Since joining the staff of the North Carolina Community Foundation back in February, I’ve had countless opportunities to interact with, learn from and be inspired by a diverse cross-section of nonprofit leaders. I am a talker and a story-teller, and I love learning about the region in which I work (Northwestern NC), and connecting with leaders of all stripes who are working to address critical issues and improving the quality of life within their communities. This is the best part of my job.
I am always eager to get out of the office and to spend time with NCCF’s partners, grantees and friends. That’s one reason I have been so excited about the opportunity to participate in nonprofit leader roundtable groups in Caldwell and Catawba counties. The support of the Catawba Valley Community Foundation Board of Advisors, the leadership of my NCCF colleague Leslie Stewart, a great partnership with AFP in Catawba County and the commitment of countless nonprofit leaders have all been instrumental in facilitating and maintaining these highly active groups.
These roundtables are held once a month and, while attendance is pretty steady, there is always a mix of old and new faces. Much of the meeting consists of informal discussion—folks share challenges and successes, and offer advice and support. New partnerships—both formal and informal—have emerged through the opportunity to educate one another about programs being offered at various agencies. Last week, the Caldwell group had a visitor from the Employment Security Commission, which provided a unique networking opportunity and chance to learn about new resources for more effectively referring clients to partner agencies.
Aside from the opportunity to network, these roundtables offer up an outlet for discussing frustrations in a safe but professional way. Many folks are facing the same sets of challenges, and there is a sense of solidarity and camaraderie that always makes me leave feeling a little more optimistic about the state of the world.
These groups also provide a great mechanism for providing training on nonprofit best practices and facilitating discussions on topics of interest, including strategic planning and board development.
I used to get in trouble for talking in class. I feel fortunate to have found a career that requires me not only to talk, but to get others talking and to help facilitate the exchange of ideas. I do my best to listen, too, as I still have a lot to learn.