Tag Archives: side projects

2016 Goals for Brain and Body

It’s only the second week of the year, so I’m trying to set some goals that will keep me happy and healthy.

Body Goal: I’m not going to set a number, but I did decide to take a challenge. DMU (where I work) is involved in the ALA “Fight for Air” Climb on April 10, and I signed up to do stairs on 87 floors in four of Des Moines’ tallest buildings as part of the event. I just found out I’m moving offices to the fifth floor, so I’ll have lots of opportunity to train if I take the stairs!


Brain Goal: I saw this 2016 Reading Challenge image floating around on social media, and I thought the checklist might be a good goal for reading:


I’m obsessed right now with downloading books through the library on Overdrive (just because I can get them quickly and read hands-free while I feed a baby), and loving being part of a book club. I did finish Fates & Furies at the beginning of last week, although I’m not going to recommend it because – despite some lovely writing, the dialogue and characters irked me. It’s gotten other good reviews, though!


Lastly, I have another side project happening next Friday: NON-CON 2016. I’m excited/nervous and if you’re in Des Moines and interested in advocacy at all, it should be a cool event!


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NON-CON is in one month

I’m so excited! YNPN Des Moines is hosting our first mini conference and after party on Jan. 8, 2015 to celebrate our second programming year. We’ll be exploring topics in nonprofit management through the lens of art, a theme that was inspired by our hosts, the Des Moines Social Club, and a desire to have a Powerpoint-free conference.  NON-CON attendees will creatively address challenges in the nonprofit sector and enjoy a space to meet and learn from potential collaborators.



Who’s it for? The event is open to professionals of all ages and experience levels. Whether you currently work at a charitable organization or have goals to be a change-maker in our community, you will come away excited and energized to fulfill your mission. It’s FREE for YNPN Des Moines members or $45 for the general public. (I’ll let you in on a secret – the membership is a steal!) Get tickets here.

The best thing about planning this is working with a team of our up-and coming leadership, and pulling in amazing artists and nonprofit pros to facilitate.

Laura of XO-LP will bring her nonprofit pro background and super illustrator skills together as part of a team going inside the mind of fundraising.

Emily, a nonprofit pro by day and yoga instructor by early morning/evening will drop some burnout prevention tactics.

Kristopher and Emily of RUN DSM will be there with all of their characteristic energetic reciprocity.

Nick Renkoski, a man of many talents, will facilitate an unconventional opening session.

I had to get out of my comfort zone to recruit sponsors and am so thankful to the companies who stepped up to support this event! We’re splitting our sponsor dollars with the Social Club, so it was cool to find a way to contribute to an organization I’ve appreciated for a long time. Please join us Jan. 8!


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Be there: YNPN Des Moines 1st birthday

I’m incredibly proud to be part of the leadership team that’s worked to get the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) Des Moines off the ground over the past year and a half. Yes, that’s me, ginormously preggers, standing on a chair trying to get everyone’s attention for announcements at our Super Swag Social in late May. I got everyone’s attention. Ha.


Building this organization has been one of the more intense exercises in collaboration/delegation and such a lesson in what awesomeness can happen when you trust a group of enthusiastic people to run with their ideas. I’ve learned so much from the team of volunteers who’ve all put in crazy hours to plan events and get our organizational documents in order.


We celebrate the one-year anniversary of our official launch this month! If you work in nonprofits, want to work in nonprofits or feel like meeting idealist-type people and having a good time, please join us at our 1st Birthday Bash on Tuesday, Jan. 14 at Jasper Winery.

Learn more:

ynpnDesMoines website 
ynpnDesMoines on Facebook
ynpnDesMoines on Twitter

YNPN National 

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Side project: YNPN Des Moines

One of the big reasons I left full-time journalism was because I was so inspired by all of the amazing people I’d write about. They were doing things that were interesting and community-building. Reporting for Juice gave me a great view of what was going on and what was needed and I and was (literally) taking notes on how I wanted to get involved. Sometimes working at a newspaper creates lots of conflicts of interest and makes it difficult to pursue leadership roles.

Volunteering was a huge part of my life growing up and when I think about what brings out the best in me, I look back to the roles I had in the community where I was raised. I love Des Moines and I feel like there are so many opportunities to “be the change,” but I do also notice that because of the small-town nature of our city, leadership is sometimes passed down generation to generation.

We have an amazing group of philanthropically minded families in Des Moines, but I’ve sensed that as transplant you really have to make the effort and raise your hand, so to speak, or you’re not necessarily going to get called on. This was a strange lesson for me, because where I grew up, I had established myself from a young age as a dedicated volunteer. My best friend and I both won Rotary Youth Service awards, and my weekends were more likely spent dressed in historical attire giving tours of a turn-of-the-century schoolhouse than hanging out at the mall. When you move to a new place, you can’t rest on a reputation you built as a teen.

Now, almost two years after I’ve left journalism, I feel like I’ve had the opportunity to find fulfilling full-time work and truly pursue some cool side-projects. It was awesome and exhausting* to help pull together the July TEDxDesMoines event with a small, dedicated team. And last weekend, I helped launch a new group called YNPN Des Moines, a startup chapter of the national Young Nonprofit Professionals Network.

I wrote awhile back about “my problem with non” and growing into a new professional identity. The team steering the formation of YNPN is all about building up the fantastic network of people who do good in Des Moines, in hopes that we can foster collaboration, share resources and help each other become even better versions of our personal and professional selves. We’re really excited to get it off the ground, and then hopefully pass the torch to others who are motivated and have time to take on the group.

If volunteering was a big part of how you grew up, but you haven’t made the connection to a charitable group yet and don’t want to switch over to the nonprofit world, here are some ideas:

Attend the annual YPC Nonprofit Forum this Thursday evening:

I’ll be there representing the Des Moines “I Have a Dream” Foundation and recruiting for YNPN.

100 Chicks for Charity also has a meeting that night. It’s a quarterly giving society whose members contribute $50 four times a year to a nonprofit that presents and gets the most votes at the meetings. It’s a great concept. I know $200 might seem like a lot of money to give to charity, but if you think about how much you spend to update your wardrobe seasonally, it might even out. (There’s also a 100 Dudes who Donate)

I also help put together the Giving City newsletter for DSM, which comes out monthly. It’s full of nonprofit fundraiser events, so if you’re looking for a night out on the town that also gives back, sign up!

* “Getting Involved” can be draining and energizing in the same way that establishing a new workout routing can be. I’m still working on balancing out the number of meetings I have with downtime at home, and some weeks leave me more wiped than others. So I’d advise — from experience — that you dip a toe in before committing to more organizations than you can handle. If something isn’t working out, make every effort to follow through on a commitment, but be honest and up-front about needing to back away and pitch in when and how you can.

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