Growing Professionally and Personally through Young Leaders Council in Williamson County – by Patty St. Clair
Young Leaders Council (YLC), a Nashville-based nonprofit organization that has trained more than 2,500 men and women to effectively participate on the boards of nonprofits in the Middle Tennessee area for the past 33 years, has extended the application deadline for the 2018 Williamson Chamber class until September 4. Partnering with Williamson, Inc. for the sixth year in a row, YLC will offer 28 hours of leadership training, including board member responsibilities, strategic planning, financials, conflict resolution and fundraising, in 11 weekly sessions beginning September 27 and then meeting on consecutive Thursdays through December 6 from 8 – 10:30 a.m.
Young professionals between the ages of 25-40 who live and/or work in Williamson County should apply by the deadline at www.youngleaderscouncil.org/applicants for the 2018 class. The participation fee is $500.
More than 100 young professionals have completed the YLC program in Williamson County since 2013, including Shikhar Shukla, Business Development Manager at Skanska USA, who graduated from last year’s class. “Young Leaders Council not only provides an opportunity for young professionals to learn the importance of civic and community leadership, it helps them get connected to other driven, like-minded individuals in Williamson County. Through years of fine-tuning, the course is a perfect balance of theoretical classes and practical skills, taught by some of the leading nonprofit professionals in Middle Tennessee.”
After completing the program, each participant serves a one-year internship on a local nonprofit board as a non-voting member to put their newfound skills into action. Sydney Ball, Regional Business Development Manager at First Citizens National Bank, did her internship on the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center Ambassadors board after completing the YLC program in 2016, and is planning to chair the same organization next year. “YLC opened my eyes to the responsibilities of taking on a board member position and how important, and formative, this can be for an organization,” Ball reflected. “Each session is structured to provide practical application that can be applied in numerous scenarios and to help participants be prepared to lead organizations in years to come.”
A graduate of YLC/Williamson Chamber Class 2017, Chase Harper, Business Development & Rideshare Administrator at The TMA Group, is currently serving his internship at the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County. According to Harper, “It has been exciting to see the great things you can accomplish for your community if you just take a little of your time. At the Heritage Foundation, I have seen projects started and completed, great ideas put in place for the future, and leaders stepping up to make a difference.”
Employers realize the value of nonprofit leadership training because young leaders bring back to the workplace those skills they have learned through their volunteer experiences. Serving on the boards of area nonprofits introduces young leaders to a network of valuable contacts, in addition to providing an invaluable service to the community.
Working for a nonprofit himself, Harper said that YLC has given him “a better understanding of how the board manages The TMA Group and a greater respect and appreciation for those who volunteer their time to help make TMA a better place to work and Middle Tennessee a better place to live.”
Carmen Stanek, a 2017 YLC graduate commented, “While the class instructors focused on teaching the important specifics of the nonprofit sector, they also educated the class on how to become better leaders. Fortunately, the instructors offered books, tools and resources that could help guide those of us interested in learning more about ourselves. This ultimately helped me land my new job as director of professional development at Williamson County Association of REALTORS.”
Stanek continued, “If you are looking for a way to better yourself, this is a great organization to push you in the right direction. YLC helped me feel better connected to the community, introduced me to new friends, and educated me on ways to give back.”
“This program can serve as the perfect opportunity for young professionals to develop themselves and grow professionally beyond their job description and contribute to our community,” said Shukla.
Ball concluded, “If I can encourage young professionals to do one thing to help advance them both personally and professionally, I would start with the Young Leaders Council. It laid the groundwork for my passion for philanthropic work and community engagement.”