Twitter: Building Both Local and Non-local Community

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I admit, I was at first a reluctant Twitter participant. In fact, I only signed up because my internship supervisor suggested I do so to familiarize myself with the organization. Alas, I am the social media- and tech-challenged Millennial.

Though I continue to be a reluctant Facebook participant, I have wholeheartedly embraced Twitter. In fact, the Twitterverse has embraced me. Though I originally assumed Twitter was entirely about narcissism and celebrity obsession, I found it was a great way to network with national and international leaders in my industry and engage with industry developments and news.

What has really surprised me is the almost inevitable way Twitter has connected me to my local community–I can’t help but stumble across great local connections by accident! I’ve connected with the Director of our local Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, a young professional who previously served in the position for which I’m currently applying (and generously agreed shared her insights with me), the daughter of of one of my favorite writers who happens to live down the road and several other young professionals in my industry (with whom I can now commiserate).

Of course, I would have met most of these people in time. However, having just moved to the area, Twitter allowed me to connect meaningfully, creatively and quickly to the local community. Through hashtags, lists and live chats, Twitter allows users to find and engage with others associated with causes, ideas or institutions with ease. Cheers to all the friendly, interesting tweeps in the Twitterverse!

Find me on Twitter to connect and see if I can refer you to other resources–I follow 500 excellent young professional leaders, arts leaders and interesting folks from NC. Check them out! Also, stay in touch! Introduce yourself below or subscribe to my RSS feed.

Mentorship vs. A Personal Board of Directors

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“Like avocado appliances and Friendster, mentoring is well and truly over,” wrote one of my favorite young bloggers, “Entry-level Rebel” Jessica Stillman.  If so, where would young professionals find the all-important connections and guidance traditionally cultivated in the mentor relationship?

Instead of identifying with one mentor, which can be counterproductive, she writes, young people should embrace a personal board of directors, “a group of people you consult regularly to get advice and feedback.”

Call it mentor promiscuity, but I have embraced a slew of mentors myself, realizing upon reading Jessica’s post that I had created my own personal board of directors. There are the Academics from college–the Composer and the Ethnomusicologist–and, more recently, the Nonprofit Executive-Thought Leader, the Artist-Entrepreneur, and the Leadership Guru who happened to offer professional coaching services to those of us listening to Rosetta Thurman‘s radio show.

Indeed, these folks have provided insight and opened doors for me during my unfolding Gap Year. Each is generous and each offers at different times a particular expertise and set of resources. Though I feel I receive much more than I give, I appreciate and understand how these relationships help me to see my path and to move forward. I diligently cultivate and maintain these relationships through emails, hand-written notes and initiating meetings over coffee.

Cheers to the generosity of mentors everywhere and to the members of my so-called personal board of directors!

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Importance of Intergenerational Exchange in Quest for Social Change

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The baby boomers who founded and led our nonprofit organizations in the past decades are retiring. Nonprofit sector leaders are speaking of the “leadership void” the sector faces. In this regard the sector faces two major challenges: recruiting young leadership and retaining young leadership.

Studies show young people are drawn more than ever to community service but the sector’s notorious low pay and underemployment often render nonprofit work irrelevant when young people graduate with an average of $21,000 in student loan debt.

Young people that do work with nonprofits often face intergenerational conflicts and tension. The Millennial generation’s trademarks–ambition, confidence and informality–often look to the baby boomer generation like cockiness, narcissism and disrespect. Thus, the sector must find creative ways to harness the talents of both generations and foster an exchange maximizes both the younger generation’s digital media and tech expertise and the older generation’s institutional wisdom and connectedness.

Chesapeake Bay Trust appears to have figured it out. A recent article published in the Washington Post, Training the next generation to care for the Chesapeake Bay, highlights the Chesapeake Conservation Corps program, which engages 16 interns in “Maryland’s attempt to seed the next generation of conservationists.” This collaboration between the state, the Trust, local nonprofits and foundations is an excellent example of the innovative programs needed to foster the all-important intergenerational exchange.

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