Preparing young leaders to drive impact

Preparing young leaders to drive impact

Michelle Saddler shares advices with young nonprofit leaders.

On October 26, 2020 the Baumhart Center hosted the final session of the Young Nonprofit Leaders Series (YNLS), a six-week, online learning experience designed to equip early and emerging nonprofit professionals with the knowledge to develop their careers and accelerate their impact.

Over the course of the series, over 300 young professionals heard from accomplished and rising leaders, including Heartland Alliance President Evelyn Diaz, Alford Group CEO Brenda Asare, Institute for Nonviolence Chairman Wendy DuBoe, and Loyola’s Baumhart Scholars. 

In the final session, ‘My Pathway to Impact’, participants heard from Michelle Saddler, Principal at Kittleman & Associates LLC, followed by a panel of experienced nonprofit professionals including Darcy Addison, Brian Barasch, Ilana Bruton, Kirstin L. Jones, and Meghan Phillipp.

Saddler shared her inspiring journey into the social sector and her goal to make the world better than the world her parents grew up in. Saddler shared three high-level tips for rising leaders seeking to make an impact in their careers:

  1. Live through your values
    Saddler believes it is important to take pauses and periodically assess what drives you. Values, she says, are “the core... If you are living out your values and your passions, you will push yourself to the point of having impact and you will push yourself in a way that makes you better.”
  2. Be prepared to say yes to the right opportunities
    “As long as [the opportunity] aligns with your values and passion, say yes.” Saddler encouraged the rising leaders build on opportunities when they come along, especially when you see a possibility for impact that is aligned with your values. In her words, “luck is when opportunity meets preparation.”
  3. Focus on YOUR journey
    Saddler encouraged rising leaders to focus on their own path and to not get derailed by the perception of others. “It is your path, your mission, and your plan.”

Adding a plethora of inspiring journeys, the panel of nonprofit professionals shared their experiences. Darcy Addison, Fundraising Consultant with the Chicago Architecture Biennial, described the “leaps of faith” she took, and how those led her to pathways of greater impact.

Brian Barasch candidly shared his journey and conveyed how steadfast he was to the value and mission of advancing the arts. He offered a valuable insight: “I realized I could be passionate about the arts and help advance that agenda without actively being an artist…I wanted to be in that realm of impact, even if it was in a different capacity.”

Both leaders’ experiences resound Saddler’s primary advice about living through your values. Echoing a similar intersection of passion and skills, Kirstin Jones, a Finance Analyst for the Obama Foundation, described her pathway to impact people’s lives through social finance.

Closing out the evening, and final gathering for YNLS, Saddler shared one last piece of advice: “if you can enhance the return for communities, then they can enhance the services for people.” After all, impact is cyclical – it starts with people and benefits communities.

The Baumhart Center is committed to developing leaders who thrive at the intersection of profit and purpose and providing tools to help leaders embark on, as Saddler says, “great journeys”. YNLS is one way the Center is engaging rising leaders and building the social sector for Chicago and beyond. Applications for the 2021 YNLS cohort will open in late summer of 2021.