ASU Lodestar Center Blog

Current nonprofit sector research and recommendations for effective day-to-day practice from ASU faculty, staff, students, and the nonprofit and philanthropic community.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - 3:35pm
posted by
Sarah Hipolito
Program Coordinator, Senior
ASU Lodestar Center

I am a firm believer in the necessity of professional development, which made the position of Program Coordinator Senior at the ASU Lodestar Center a great fit for me. Before joining the rest of the team at the ASU Lodestar Center, I worked for seven years as a coordinator of youth ministry, or was what is more often known as a youth minister, youth pastor, or youth leader. Though traditionally not a professional position, there are a number of individuals who enter the field wanting to make this their life-long career — I was one of those people. I regularly attended professional development sessions every year.

As time went by, unbeknownst to myself, I had completed all of the requirements necessary to receive a credential as a coordinator of youth evangelization from the Diocese of Phoenix. I was thrilled and continued on with my professional development. Though this is no longer my paid position, I continue professional development in this field as a volunteer.

One of the ways I am trying to improve professionally is to increase my knowledge and ability regarding Social Media. I began writing this blog post as I sat in the NMI 122 class, Digital Communications: Social Media Tools & Strategies. Do I have a Facebook page? Yes. Do I tweet? Yes (thank you @KaylaMcKinney for helping me!). Do I blog? Obviously! But, do I know how to use all of these tools in a strategic way? Not so much. There is room for learning in this area, and I am the first person who will say it, which is why I found myself in NMI 122.

This has led me to consider, "What else do I not know that I don't know?" Awkward question, I know, but it really got me thinking. Where else can I improve my knowledge base to do better what I already do (and possibly stop doing some things I do because something else is more efficient)? Our minds' capacity to learn is something that we should not take for granted. Our thirst for knowledge should be unquenchable.

While promoting the Lodestar Center's Nonprofit Management Institute at a Teach for America event, I met a gentleman who said, "I'm not interested. I've been in school all of my life and I just completed my master's. I'm done with classes." He quickly turned around and walked away before I could say, "No! You're never done, learning is a lifelong process!" Needless to say, I was disappointed, and I wondered how many other people felt this way. Doesn't everyone get butterflies in their stomach and count down the days till a scheduled professional development workshop... or is it just me?

Within the nonprofit sector there is so much opportunity for professional development and self-growth. Just read any edition of the Lodestar Center Nonprofit News, and you'll see a number of professional development classes, workshops, and events scheduled by the Center and other organizations throughout the Valley and beyond.

I think it's important for us to, every once in a while, forget about what we already know, what we're already "experts" at, what we studied for four years (or five or six... or seven), and focus on what skills we could improve; not only for our own sake, but for the sake of those we serve.

Sarah Hipolito is Program Coordinator, Sr. of the Nonprofit Management Institute at the ASU Lodestar Center. Prior to her work with the Center, Sarah coordinated youth programs within the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix for six years. She remains an active volunteer at St. Vincent de Paul Church, serving as a high school religious education instructor and is also a choir member at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Glendale.

Like this article? Get another!

Click here to read Abbie Fink's "Digital Communications: A Wise Investment."


Include me in the group that does not understand how someone thinks that their brain is full and they have no need for professional development. Almost every day I learn something new from email newsletters, magazine articles, blogs and yes even conversations. And then we have those occasional prof. development sessions. Professional development is absolutely key to keep us "in the loop." The art and science of managing nonprofits in this rapidly changing world takes time and effort. To say that you no longer need intellectual input and challenge is admitting defeat.

I'm glad you brought up the point that quality learning can happen at any moment in our day, we don't need a formal session scheduled in order for it to take place!
I had a teacher in elementary school who would ask us to name one thing we learned before we could leave for the day. To this day, I still take some time at the end of each day (almost every day!) to reflect on what I've learned.

I agree with your teacher that you should learn something everday, otherwise I feel like it is a day wasted. Even if you learn something about a friend that you did not know, or maybe some information about an organization which makes you wish to work more for them, or maybe less. I agree that we should spend time on different areas other than strengths, because it will help make us more well rounded and thereby more apt to identify with others around us. In terms of becoming a juggernaut of your field, I feel you should focus mostly on your strengths and train in areas of weakness so that you may supplement and enhance your strength. A strong base will be able to support more weight of knowledge. Also, being good at something makes us want to continue to do so!

Blog Archive