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.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

posted by
Carletha Sterling
Summer 2018 Alumna, ASU Master of Nonprofit Leadership & Management
Volunteer Board Member Wings for Women, Tucson, Arizona

During my Master of Nonprofit Leadership and Management (MNLM) studies, I gained an appreciation for volunteers and an interest in how volunteers can engage in advocacy. Volunteers are considered the backbone of the nonprofit sector. According to the Corporate Social Responsibility Wire, 80 percent of nonprofits rely on volunteers for critical activities but admit they do not have the resources to manage them as they might like.

In addition, according to a Stanford Social Innovation Review report, nonprofit leaders are not taking the time to develop or support volunteer talent adequately, resulting in a weak or bland experience that leads to an unmotivated volunteer who has little reason to return.Nonprofits can enhance the operation by utilizing volunteer skills, talent and expertise. It is vital that nonprofits seek out volunteer talents and interest during the hiring process and assign volunteers to tasks related to their area of interest and skill.

However, volunteers can also be advocates. The terms advocacy and lobbying are generally used interchangeably to describe how nonprofits influence legislation and public policy. During my MNLM studies, I learned to appreciate a new definition of advocacy. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

posted by
Michelle Jimenez
Class 12 Public Ally

Before becoming a Public Ally, I somewhat understood the nonprofit sector, since the year before I had served as a City Year Corps Member in Chicago through AmeriCorps. I was knowledgeable enough about the fundamental role of specific nonprofits, but I never fully grasped the role of nonprofit agencies and their effect on social justice issues as a whole. 

Becoming an Ally enabled me to comprehend new perspectives regarding the fair and just relations between the individual and society. Further, it has exposed me to worlds and circumstances I’d never seen and were often difficult to witness. As a result, I have gained a new perspective on the importance of breaking barriers for social mobility and creating safety nets and economic justice. Consequently, my desire to play a role in transforming the world has truly been ignited.

Being a part of Public Allies in a state that was new to me challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and really immerse myself into every project put before me. I chose to see each project as a new opportunity. I told myself in the beginning of the program that, no matter what, I would always try to have an open mind and open heart. 

Monday, November 19, 2018

posted by
Kendelle Brown
Class 12 Public Ally

In September 2017, I applied to be a Public Ally after first applying for a student worker position with Public Allies Arizona. When I first applied for the student worker position, I really did not know what Public Allies was; I just knew they helped youth get involved in the community. 

After my interview, the director sent me an email suggesting that instead of taking the student worker position, I should apply to be a Public Ally myself because they had an organization that was looking for someone with my skill set. I was beyond ecstatic. During my interview, I learned that the program worked with young adults who wanted to make a change in their community with different nonprofits throughout Maricopa County. I had recently moved to Arizona from Michigan for graduate school and was so excited to learn more about the nonprofit community in Phoenix. After I was accepted into the program, I interviewed with Opportunities for Youth and was offered their data analyst intern position.

Opportunities for Youth, an initiative that had just recently moved to ASU from Maricopa County Education Service Agency (MCESA), is an organization whose mission is to “harness the power of cross-sector collaboration to create a comprehensive system of opportunity that reengages our Valley’s disconnected youth.” Through my service as a Public Ally at Opportunities for Youth, I have helped build a just and equitable society – a key part of the Public Allies mission – within Maricopa County. I have demonstrated this by helping to secure funding, bringing attention to gaps in resources for youth with disabilities, creating synergy between their Reengagement Center Action Team and streamlining their referral process.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Seth Cothrun

posted by
Seth Cothrun
Class 9, American Express Leadership Academy at the ASU Lodestar Center

In August, I was fortunate enough to spend a week at the Aspen Institute. Along with 14 other global nonprofit leaders, I was selected as an American Express Leadership Academy Aspen 2.0 Fellow. The fellowship, focused on the Aspen Institute tradition of values-based leadership, brings together leaders from the sector to discuss a core set of readings drawn from texts ranging from Plato to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Over the course of the last two months, I have had time to reflect on the fellowship as well as my overall experience with the American Express Leadership Academy. Combining Aspen with my experience with Class IX of the American Express Leadership Academy at the ASU Lodestar Center, I have spent considerable time discussing and thinking about themes and challenges that are common across the sector. These challenges are faced by organizations globally, organizations of all size and scale and across focus areas – from education to equity; homelessness to environment; immigration to arts. Many, if not all in this sector, are aware of the challenges and can rehearse them on-demand: funding, capacity, retention, burn out, etc. Many of these challenges tend to be thought of as resulting from external forces, even if they manifest internally (e.g., retention is often talked about as being directly correlated to external funding availability). And, many times they are. However, if we are being objective, we know that is not always the case.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

posted by
Prisma Paredes
Class 12 Public Ally

What I have learned in Public Allies:

  • · Social justice
  • · Data rescue 
  • · Networking
  • · Public speaking
  • · Advocating for myself

I felt like I was stuck working in a place with no more room to grow and develop. I didn’t know what my next step was going to be. I was working mixed shifts at Starbucks, wondering what the next challenge would be. I’ve always known my dream was to become an educator and empower children – to love, to learn and to believe in their capabilities. I wanted to be a person children can look up to for guidance and encouragement and be able to make a difference in their lives. One day I got a message – it was from my future director telling me to apply to Public Allies.

I can honestly say that my life has changed dramatically with Public Allies. They not only helped me overcome some small fears, such as writing a professional email and making connections with nonprofits, but also taught me to advocate for myself. I was always terrified to speak out. 

Monday, October 22, 2018

posted by
Gigi Eung
Class 12 Public Ally

Public Allies core value: Collaboration

We believe in the strength of the collective and we build consensus and empower each other to achieve common goals.

It takes a village to raise a child. As the Human Resource Staffing Coordinator (and later, the Volunteer Coordinator) for Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale, I realized that it really does take a village to raise a child. There is strength in the collective power of partnerships and teamwork. Above all, I learned that crisis, obstacles and challenges are all areas of opportunity. All are blessings in disguise. It is what happens in times of crisis that leadership, collaboration and partnerships come together to create something magical and positive in the hearts of all those affected – in this case, the children of Arizona. In terms of Public Allies, everyone leads to help create a just and equitable society for each other. However, the children are the great futures that we must never allow to suffer alone. That is why it takes a village to raise a child. We cannot do it alone.

During the Arizona teachers strike, my organization was hit hard. What seemed like a small walkout turned into a statewide political movement that trickled down into localities, especially those in youth development and education – of which Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale is all about. The kids had nowhere to go during the walkout. What happened was beyond what I had imagined. It is one thing seeing the massive #RedforEd strikes on television and online every day, but it is another thing to actually be affected by the strike directly. Every day was tentative; schools were closed, some districts reversed information about school closings/openings in a matter of hours.

Monday, October 15, 2018

posted by
Pamela Timmons
Class 12 Public Ally

Thinking back, I had no idea where I was in life or where I wanted to be. I only knew I wanted to be in the nonprofit sector; I knew wanted to help. I have always known that to be my purpose. How I was going to get there and do my life’s purpose was up for debate. That is when I discovered Public Allies Arizona.

They took a single mother of two, who was pretty much stuck in life doing the bare minimum, and believed in me. They gave me a chance to express my talents and gifts in order to better serve the community.  They also allowed me the opportunity to connect with my purpose. I am here to help others find a way out of no way. 

Throughout all the trainings, workshops and countless social engagements, I started to remember who I was and what I brought to the “equation called life.” I brought hope that you too can dig deep and grasp anything your heart desires, anything you reach to seek no matter the situation. I realized you do not have to let your circumstances define you.

This is the mindset I chose to keep during the 10-month program. While serving at my placement, I filled my purpose by contributing to a cause.

Monday, October 8, 2018

posted by
Samantha Witter
Class 12 Public Ally

Through Public Allies Arizona, I was placed at AZCEND as the Family Resource Center Coordinator. AZCEND is a one-stop-shop for families in the Chandler/Gilbert community. AZCEND offers food boxes through their Food Bank, rent and utility assistance though the Community Action Program (CAP), and senior programs through the Chandler Senior Center and the Gilbert Community Center. In addition, they offer case management for homeless clients in the Interfaith Home Emergency Lodging Program (I-HELP). At AZCEND, they aim to change lives by nourishing minds and bodies to create a connected, thriving community.

 Within the Family Resource Center parenting workshops, early literacy programs, Giggles, Squiggles and Squirms (G.S.S,) child watch, and community health are offered. I set up and coordinated parenting workshops, helped with G.S.S, and assisted with child watch. In addition, I attended networking and community events to do outreach for our programs.


Monday, October 1, 2018

posted by
Hanna Burris
Class 12 Public Ally

I began working with Public Allies in the summer of 2017, just after graduating high school. A close friend of mine was already participating in the program and I admired how she was taking control of her life. I applied because I wished for a similar experience.

After the interview process, I was placed at the Arizona Commission for Post-Secondary Education (ACPE), which ironically, was my least desired match. The ACPE was my least favorite organization choice because it was out of my comfort zone. I prefer hands-on work; I did not want to work at a computer all day. However, I joined Public Allies to further develop my professional “real-world” skills; so inevitably, I was placed at the ACPE. My position title was College and Career Goal Arizona Communications and Volunteer Specialist. My roles included supporting the College and Career Goal Arizona (C2GA) programs as well as assisting the other in-house programs.


Monday, September 24, 2018

posted by
Ellie Slater
Class 12 Public Ally

After graduating college and moving to Arizona, I was unsure of what path to take in life. I knew I wanted to continue my education but I was not ready to be back in the classroom setting, I wanted real-life experience. In my search for continued learning, Public Allies quickly became an appealing way to continue my personal growth. Going into the program, I had a general idea of where I wanted to go in my career but was unsure how to accomplish my goals. I felt as though I needed more professional and personal development to become a more effective community leader and social worker in my future. Public Allies helped me accomplish this.

 Throughout the placement process, I was introduced to Arizona Foundation for the Handicapped (AFH) and immediately knew that it was the type of organization I wanted to work for. I have always been interested in working with individuals with special needs and AFH provided me the opportunity to serve a population I am passionate about. During my time at AFH, I learned so many important lessons from members. They taught me about positivity, friendship, hard work and countless other lessons.



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