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ASU Lodestar Center Blog

Nonprofit Leadership Alliance: AMI 2014 Reflections

Each year Arizona State University’s Nonprofit Leadership Alliance (NLA) prepares students to attend a national institute designed to bring partnering nonprofit organizations and Alliance campus partners together to share ideas, best practices and forward the mission of “strengthening the nonprofit sector with a talented and prepared workforce.” Student seeking the Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP) credential from over 40 campuses across the country attend workshops, hear from national leaders and provide the host community with opportunities to learn from student case studies.

It is not easy to pull this together for the national organization or the local campus. ASU’s program conducts an annual face-to-face scholarship campaign for financial support to attend the Institute fondly called AMI. This year, the Alliance Management Institute was held in Chicago during the coldest storm on record with -12 to -45 degree weather. ASU made it there and back with no trouble at all when many campuses did not. This was a teachable environment relying on flexibility, trust and the professional qualities needed during changing times.

With help from so many donors again this year, 14 ASU students attended and soaked up all the experience had to offer. Along with overcoming their fear of asking for money, students learned valuable lessons in fundraising, speaking about their career goals and networking. Each has a story to tell about their experience and we thought you might enjoy hearing a few of their observations.

Steve Blakeslee, Nonprofit Leadership and Management Major
“When discussing the Alliance Management Institute it reminded me of the people who helped provide me with this opportunity. The people I learned the most from were Don Lindner and Dr. Robert Ashcraft. Don Lindner and I met at the Paradise Bakery Café to further discuss his support with the Alliance. One of the things I learned from Don Lindner was the value of persistence and honesty. When I went to that meeting and met with him, I did not have all the answers and he gave me difficult questions to gauge a reaction from me in that regard. Once I was honest with him and let him know about my new involvement with the Alliance, things became very relaxed and our conversation became very centralized on my growth and development in the nonprofit sector. He was the first person I officially met with in regards to the Alliance Management Institute, and I am excited to inform him about how the experience affected me.”

Jasmine Clark-Telfer, Business Major
"Attending the 2014 Alliance Management Institute was an unforgettable experience that I will carry with me for the rest of my career and the rest of my life. I learned so much about myself and about the sector, I met new people, and made lifelong friendships. None of this would have been possible without the unwavering support of our donors. All I can say is thank you!"

Samantha Ehlebracht, International Business Major
"I greatly benefitted from the few days at the AMI conference and would recommend it to all nonprofit students. The opportunities for learning and networking were at a higher level than I have had in the classroom. To our donors I would tell them how the conference changed my perspective to preparing for life after college. I feel more organized, prepared and confident going into the workforce after graduation this May because of AMI. I think that if the donors were to attend a conference now they would be blown away by how much impact it bring to the schools and students associated with the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. Their money is being spent well and I utilized as much as I could while there."

Kellie Fern, Nonprofit Leadership and Management Major
"The biggest moment of the whole conference was the first day I went to a leadership session with all the leaders from each campus. It was really cool to be able to talk with other students about their campus groups and to be able to talk about what is working for them and what’s not working. I also had the pleasure of taking with a girl from a smaller school whose program was just starting up and just beginning. She asked me about how our ASU NLA program is organized. It was really interesting how other programs are set up and it made me realize how great ASU really is. I also got to some pointers from other programs at different schools that have given me some great ideas."

Ashley Garavetto, Nonprofit Leadership and Management Major
"Besides the breathtaking ice that formed on the inside of the hotel windows and, apart from receiving the hilarious, oversized glasses at Harry Carry’s (Holy Cow!), I would like our donors to know that this entire trip was an opportunity to better myself, learn innovative ways to approach professionalism, and it will certainly be a memory that I will cherish forever."

Ramiah Jackson, Business Major
"The aspects of leadership that I heard at the conference don’t only apply in a work environment, but they can also be applied to my personal life. I learned more about taking control of my choices and learning how to lead my own life the way I want to then I will be an effective leader in an organization. The leaders I met weren’t just there to tell you how to get a job, but to also live a leadership life. They were willing to share many of their personal stories to insure us that they have made mistakes too and learned from them and are now where they are at today. The highlight of AMI was the case study. I had the privilege of working with the YMCA of USA Diversity and Inclusion department to help them revamp one of their diversity workshops in order for it to be applied more to youth and young adults. This gave me a chance to see what real organizations go through when making decisions. There were about 20 different students and we broke up into 3 different tables and came up with ideas to change their presentations. Then we all came together and had to pick and choose which suggests we were going to present to the YMCA. It was an experience to see how the diversity of peoples backgrounds affect what changes they wanted to make to the presentation. With groups in an organization there will be times that not everybody agrees and people sometimes get offended, which was one of the biggest things I learned. Basically the chance to work with a diverse group in a short amount of time was an experience I will never forget. Because everyone has different ideas and different solutions, which there is always a thousand ways to solve one problem but what’s important is coming together with the solution that will help the most."

Michele Johnson, Communication Major
"In conclusion, the Alliance Management Institute was a great opportunity that taught me a lot more than what I was expecting. It gave me inspiration to pursue areas that make my heart tick, provided insight on what not to do for a degree, and let me see Chicago. One thing I would love to tell donors is that not donating is okay. We will find the funds somehow. What is even more valuable to many of us would be sound advice on navigating a career path. Many of the donors are successful and even the most altruistic of students want to be successful too. We know the job market is hard right now and will continue to remain that way for a while into the future. We need your guidance and support."

Lyn McDonough, CNP
"As a CNP and alum of the ASU program, now Sr. Program Coordinator for the NLA, each of the 14 students represented ASU with pride, not only raised the funds to attend but expanded their network of supportive individuals and now have contacts across the country to help them be successful in their nonprofit careers. The out-of-classroom experiences offered by the program at ASU makes all the difference personally and professionally to these students. I have the privilege of watching them grow into confident, innovative thinkers and skilled professionals. Nothing takes the place of being there!"

Many thanks to our Lodestar Community Council, NLA Alumni, ASU Faculty and staff as well as families and friends for making this possible.

A third generation native of Arizona, Lyn is currently Sr. Program Coordinator for the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance (formerly American Humanics) at Arizona State University (ASU.) Lyn spent 10 years as Director of Project LEARN for Valley of the Sun United Way and Communities in Schools facilitating relationships with schools, business, government and nonprofits to better serve students living in poverty. As Director of Chapter Resources for the American Red Cross, Grand Canyon Chapter she supervised offices in five counties throughout Arizona. She is a trained facilitator, court mediator and certified to provide “Framework for Understanding Poverty” through AHA Process. She has a BA in Organizational Communication and is a Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP.)


ASU Lodestar Center Blog