Re-Imagining Your Community. Re-Inventing Your Role.
The call for ALL leaders to engage in planning for change.
On Friday, September 19 nearly 300 leaders from the nonprofit, for-profit and government sectors came together for the Nonprofit Leadership Summit. The day was designed to bring sector leaders together to engage in discussion of the theme of “Living in Possibility.”
Nationally recognized speaker, Majora Carter of the Majora Carter Group, presented the keynote. Majora shared her experiences of solving big problems with local solutions. This included a review of her latest project Startup Box South Bronx - a social enterprise designed to increase opportunities for South Bronx community members to be a part of the tech economy by creating a technology and entrepreneurial ecosystem in the South Bronx. Rather than trying to fit the unemployed into jobs for which they had no skill-set, she endeavored to create an ecosystem to build upon existing strengths - which, for many, included playing video games. Training individuals to become video game testers - which was typically a job outsourced to other countries - engages them in learning the teamwork essential in tackling error detection challenges across multiple platforms, so communications, record keeping, and related team management skills are constantly reinforced.
Majora talked about the challenges inherent in social enterprise like Startup Box South Bronx - where enterprise minds often think of it as "too social" and social minds often see it as "too enterprise." She shared with the audience the ways that she works to build investment from within the community. Majora outlined the template that she uses for project planning, implementation and hopefully success:
Identify the market or policy need
Design an attractive solution that meets the needs of the target audience
Obtain one (or more) "angel" investor(s)
Do something! – Launch the beta version
Learn from projects and refine as needed
Reiterate and expand
She encouraged the attendees to always question assumptions and the status quo and to always ask "Why can't we...?"
The day continued with Majora interviewing a panel of NH’s own agents of change. Three leaders who have made names for themselves by seeing things differently, working from possibilities, and embracing true collaboration were on hand to share their stories.
Facilitator: Majora Carter
The panelists emphasized the importance of listening to find out what is important to potential collaborators and stakeholders. They cited the listening process as critical to determining what motivates people and thus ways to keep them engaged in your project. Eric Chinburg got some laughs and provoked some new thinking when he reiterated Majora's call to always ask "why" and provided some examples from his work where he challenged ideas that many others might have accepted as "that's just the way it is." Anna Thomas shared how personal challenges in her life have helped her to become even more committed to making a difference in her work. Christine Frost shared that she has made going out and asking the tough questions into something that she enjoys. All of the panelists agreed that is important to surround yourself with top notch people and invest in the tools they need to get the job done.
The Corporate Fund presented their annual Excellence in Nonprofit Management Awards during the luncheon. This year’s winners were CATCH Neighborhood Housing and Cornerstone VNA. Rosemary Heard accepted the award on behalf of CATCH Neighborhood Housing and Julie Reynolds accepted on behalf of Cornerstone VNA. Joe Murray of Fidelity Foundation represented the Corporate Fund to present the awards. Congratulations to both organizations.
These annual awards for excellence in management are made in tribute to Walter J. Dunfey, New Hampshire businessman, philanthropist, and leader. Walter J. Dunfey was a successful entrepreneur and business executive, a co-founder and director of Dunfey Hotels (now known as Omni International hotels) and subsequently The Dunfey Group. In 1983, as Chairman of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, he took the lead in establishing The Corporate Fund, approaching other New Hampshire business leaders with a novel concept: that companies pool their financial resources and management expertise to strengthen the State’s nonprofit organizations. This award is given in his name to recognize his contributions to the field.
The afternoon got down to the business of HOW we make the kinds of changes that were talked about in the morning. Melissa Nemon facilitated a discussion that explored what nonprofits need to do to move forward, how funders will need to adapt to support these changes, and how government can work to promote change and partnership among all sectors. Panelists included representatives from government, a nonprofit organization, a for-profit organization and a community foundation.
Facilitator: Melissa Nemon