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In a region teeming with nonprofit organizations, the sector’s young workers found they had nowhere to turn for professional support and development. So last year, four young nonprofit professionals started a local chapter of the Young Nonprofit Professional Network. The national organization focuses on 20- to 40-year-olds to strengthen the nonprofit community and empower its professionals through networking.

The local chapter, now with 162 members, will hold free “Lunch & Learn” series, networking eventsNYTS and undertake a chapter service project.

The YNPN Greater Bflo’s leadership team is comprised of its four founders – Ryan Daley, senior manager of Community Engagement at UNYTS; Adam Bartoszek, WNY regional volunteer center manager at The Service Collaborative of WNY; Lauren Kalczynski, program manager of AmeriCorps Builds Lives through Education (ABLE) at The Service Collaborative of WNY; and Naomi Pabon-Figueroa, manager of member services of ABLE at The Service Collaborative of WNY.

Daley, 27, has worked in the nonprofit sector his whole career, discussed the new organization.

How did you four come together to form the chapter?

A: It all began will a simple online search of young nonprofit professional support that I was looking for after completing my undergraduate degree in social work. I came across YNPN and looked to connect to the Buffalo chapter and soon realized that there was no local chapter. I knew that it could not be done alone and soon contacted Adam to discuss the possibility of establishing a local chapter. Soon after, Naomi and Lauren, who work with Adam, came onboard.

Why does Western New York need a YNPN chapter?

A: Western New York is home to thousands of locally and nationally recognized nonprofit organizations that play a critical role in the shaping and supporting of this great community. Young professionals, both working and volunteering in the Western New York region, are eager for opportunities to connect with one another, develop their skills, and learn more about what it takes to successfully lead initiatives and nonprofit organizations into the future.

Who can join?

A: Our mission is intentionally inclusive, our events are designed with the core 20s and 30s YNPN demographic in mind, but they are not by any means exclusive. Every person of any age or experience currently working, volunteering or interested in any way in the nonprofit sector is welcome and encouraged to reach out and get to know the YNPN network.

Membership to the YNPN Greater Bflo chapter is free, and those interested can sign up on our website at: ynpngreaterbflo.org. Signing up to become a member on our site will add you to the chapter list-serv that will keep you up to date on everything going on with our chapter from ‘Lunch & Learns’ to themed networking events and other vital nonprofit resources.

What are some of the challenges facing young professionals in the nonprofit field?

A: Various challenges can range from budgetary constraints resulting in limited professional development opportunities, job related stress and lacking the essential skills and experience necessary to move into management positions.

What will YNPN do to address these challenges?

A: YNPN Greater Bflo provides an accessible, inclusive network of resources and support for young professionals as they work collectively to enhance their skills, knowledge base and contacts within the nonprofit sector.

What can people expect at the Lunch & Learn series?

A: The United Way of Buffalo & Erie County has generously provided the meeting space for the Lunch & Learn series. These events will be free one-hour interactive sessions with topics such as “Establishing Credibility,” “Creating a Budget” and “Social Media Etiquette.” In addition, themed networking event topics will include discussions about relevant issues such as “Volunteer Management” and “Corporate Speak: Translating Nonprofit Value to Corporate America.” All events will provide participants the ability to share knowledge and resources in addition to the opportunity to connect with other professional within the local nonprofit sector.

email: esapong@buffnews.com