Conference Reflections from the Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership

Jul 5, 2012

Linda DavisToday’s post is written by Linda Davis, chief executive officer of the Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership.

Chicago is a truly inspiring city. With its sprawling parklands, extensive public transportation and historical landmarks, Points of Light could not have selected a more dynamic and inspiring backdrop for this year’s Conference. We were amazed by the variety of public figures, members of government, community leaders and celebrities who joined in this years’ Conference to create new ideas for service, discuss challenges and work together to create solutions through the power of people. Secretary Arne Duncan highlighted the importance of convening and learning together by saying, “Everyone should be teaching and be taught at the same time.”

Target Education PanelOur take-aways from the Conference were plentiful. We were inspired by the theme of programs vs. impact. It’s not about the number of programs you offer within your organization, it’s about how those programs impact your community and affect change. Programs are the avenue of impact for nonprofits, where passion, people, purpose, principles, preparation and planning intersect with programs for positive change. We were also drawn to the sessions revolving around education. “It is often said that the only way to fix education is to fix poverty, when actually it’s the other way around; the only way to fix poverty is to fix education,” stated Secretary Duncan during the session on How Citizen Service Strengthens Communities. We’re particularly passionate about education as we’re currently working with HandsOn Network to develop a program focused on youth leadership and service learning. The story of Laura Ling also during How Citizen Service Strengthens Communities session was all about hope. While she was being held captive in North Korea, she never gave up hope. “Get to know you enemies,” she said during her session, “You have more in common than you think.” Her words remind us to practice gratefulness and gratitude each day.