As the inaugural program officer at the West Foundation, I manage a grant making portfolio of organizations working on community development around the globe. Recently, I coordinated an impact assessment to comprehensively review the foundation’s grant making strategies and intended impact. At the culmination of this process, the board shifted our funding priorities to focus more deeply on community-led decision making in the international development realm. After this review, the foundation also chose to devote 25% of its funds to multi-year, unrestricted grants to its long-term partners.
I also lead the foundation’s emerging nonprofit’s initiative. Through a series of focus group discussions and interviews with partners, we discovered that local indigenous groups are often overlooked by U.S. institutional funders. The emerging nonprofits initiatives gifts $10,000 to early stage indigenous group that are poised for growth. Even though we are based in Indianapolis, Indiana, by leveraging partnerships with the Frida Fund and One World Children’s Fund, we can now quickly identify and support emerging community groups in the Global South.
The themes of talent development and retention come up again and again in my work with nonprofit partners. As a result, I’m passionate about building capacity across the sector by increasing access to professional development opportunities for nonprofit leaders. So, in addition to my work for the foundation, I also serve on the steering committee for the Youth Philanthropy Initiative of Indiana (YPII) and the national board of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN).
YPII provides technical assistance, educational resources, and trainings to youth development organizations and grant making foundations seeking to integrate philanthropy concepts into their work with youth across the state of Indiana. As a steering committee member, I help organize professional development trainings for a network of 40 community organizations.
YNPN is a grassroots network focused on connecting young leaders with the resources, people, and idea. The national organization supports a network of 42 chapters and 50,000 members (and growing!) around the country with an emphasis on building a diverse and powerful social sector. The national board provides governance and strategic for the national 501(c)(3) headquartered in Portland, Oregon.
The Nonprofit Leadership Program equipped me with a birds-eye view of the nonprofit sector as well as the hands-on skills needed to be an asset for any social change organization. As an NPL student, I also learned to approach collaboration and social change with an abundance rather than scarcity mindset. This lens allows me to think more creatively about how actors and organization across different sectors can come together to generate positive change.