Reflections: A Conversation with Diane Hayes

Reflections: A Conversation with Diane Hayes

Recently, Kim James, Executive Director of the Young Leaders Council, sat down for lunch with Diane Hayes, the  beloved former YLC Executive Director for more than 25 years. Their conversation covered numerous topics, including Diane’s legacy at YLC, challenges faced as a nonprofit leader, opportunities to advance YLC’s mission for the future, the many perks of retirement life, and what’s next on Diane’s to do list.

Kim James: Diane!  I am so excited to have this conversation and reflect with you!  Thank you for joining me today.  Having had the opportunity to work with you during my time in the program, I never realized all that it took to keep things running smoothly at YLC – now I’m aware!  Leading an organization for 25 years is no small feat.  What are you most proud of accomplishing in your time with YLC?

Diane Hayes: I’m so proud of how we worked hard to build the name recognition and respect for Young Leaders Council. When we first started, so many people didn’t know who we were or what we did. So as people started understanding more about our mission and the value of YLC’s training, that helped spur growth for the organization. The growth helped us reach more young professionals who benefited from training and moved on to serve as leaders on nonprofit boards. Ultimately all of this was great for the community.

Kim: After investing so many years in the growth and success of YLC, what’s your biggest hope for the future of this great organization?

Diane: My biggest hope is that the organization will continue to grow and that more companies will realize just how important community service and leadership is for their employees. And with that more young professionals will see how impactful it is for their personal lives to be involved as leaders within the nonprofit community.

Thankfully YLC managed to survive during the most difficult season of the pandemic, and I’m even more hopeful at how the organization will continue to impact the community as a whole as things continue to improve.

Kim:  What was the most difficult part of serving as the Executive Director for YLC?

Diane: I think most nonprofit executives would agree that the never-ending need for funding to support your work is the toughest part. With so many organizations doing great work, the resources are limited and that often makes it difficult to fundraise.

Kim:  I can certainly identify with that.  How are you enjoying your retirement?

Diane:  Well, I don’t have to worry about deadlines anymore!  I have just been enjoying the lighter load and less responsibility. I really enjoy traveling and spending quality time with my granddaughter!

Kim:  You’re living the dream, Diane!  I’m happy for you and so very grateful that you continue to support YLC and me in this capacity. Thank you so much for sharing your time and wisdom with me today! 

What a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with one of Nashville’s treasured nonprofit leaders!  It was such a pleasure to catch up with Diane and hear her reflect on her time with YLC. I was also excited to learn that Diane is currently focusing on a new professional journey as a nonprofit consultant!  To learn more about Diane’s company and the services offered, please email her directly.

2021 Nonprofit Appreciation Luncheon

2021 Nonprofit Appreciation Luncheon

On Thursday, July 15, 2021, Young Leaders Council hosted its annual Appreciation Luncheon, which honors nonprofit partners and donors that have helped support YLC’s mission over the years.  The Luncheon was generously sponsored by AllianceBernstein (AB) and highlighted YLC’s partnerships with the hundreds of nonprofit partners that supported the placement of over 275 program participants in one-year board internships in 2020 and 2021.  

Close to 50 individuals attended the Luncheon at Thistle Farms. YLC Board Chair Sarah Rochford Benfield and Kate Chinn, Head of Community and Civic Engagement for AB, shared thoughtful remarks during the event. YLC is grateful to everyone that was able to attend and support the event. Click here to view additional photos from the Appreciation Luncheon. 

Interested in learning more about YLC’s board internship matching program? Please contact Rachel Reyes for more information. 

Young Leader Spotlight: Erica Rivero

Young Leader Spotlight: Erica Rivero

Erica Rivero, Director of Inventory and Systems Management at Thistle Farms, is a member of the Young Leaders Council Nashville Class 76. In a recent discussion, Erica shares how participating in the YLC program, where she received training on how to be an impactful board member at a non-profit, enhances her capabilities as a professional in the non-profit sector.

Kate: Thank you for sitting down to share your experience with the YLC, Erica! How did you first learn about the Young Leaders Council?

Erica: Glad to be here! I first heard about the YLC because Thistle Farms, my employer, hosted a YLC intern. I am someone who is passionate about leadership and the non-profit sector, so the program sparked my interest.

Kate: We are glad that you got involved! What has been the most valuable part of the YLC program to you?

Erica: Many of my class members are new to learning about non-profits and the types of community-based organizations that we have here locally. I have worked in this space since my time as a student at Belmont so I came to the program with a different lens.

The best thing about the YLC program for us all is that the YLC instructors all have deep experience in non-profit management. They have all worked in the space for a long time. They understand the problems that non-profits face; for instance, the challenges associated with growth. We are learning from experts in the YLC program.

Through the YLC, I have gained a better understanding of how my own organization functions, which strengthens my leadership capacity as an employee. For instance, Noah Spiegel’s session on board member responsibilities included a discussion of the life cycles of non-profits. This session provided context that situated my understanding of the growth of the non-profit social enterprise where I work within the broader non-profit sector.

Kate: Thank you for sharing – and congratulations on recently completing the program! What are your hopes for what’s next, now that you’re a YLC alum?

Erica: On a practical level, I love that this program allowed me to learn about other non-profits in our community. The community response to the COVID-19 pandemic illustrated the importance of partnerships between non-profit to meet community needs. No one organization could do everything alone. I will take the knowledge and relationships gained through YLC to continue to connect with other non-profits for partnerships moving forward.

I love how Nashville welcomes immigrants, and I will serve as a board intern at Conexión Americas starting this fall. I am excited to play a larger role in connecting immigrants to resources right here in Nashville. I am passionate about leadership and social justice and I will find ways to continue contributing in this space.

Young Leaders Council Announces Spring 2021 Participants

Young Leaders Council Announces Spring 2021 Participants

More than 90 diverse, young professionals participate in YLC’s Spring Nashville, Junior League, and Belmont Massey Cohorts

Young Leaders Council (YLC) is proud to announce the Spring 2021 participants in the Nashville Class 76, Junior League of Nashville, and Belmont University – Massey Graduate School of Business Cohorts.  A combined 92 young professionals from diverse backgrounds are represented in the program this spring, which kicked-off officially in mid-March with a celebratory opening session and inspirational keynote address from YLC alumnus and President/CEO of Young Motivation Group Derek Young.

A full listing of the 2021 spring roster is available below.

YLC’s mission is to train diverse, committed individuals to effectively participate on the boards of nonprofit organizations and make a difference in the community by replenishing the Nashville volunteer leadership base.  Each year, YLC hosts five cohorts consisting of a series of eleven interactive training sessions specifically designed to address fundamental board skills and prepare participants to be successful nonprofit board leaders.  Training is facilitated by industry experts and reflect on success indicators deemed crucial for today’s nonprofit leadership. Once training concludes, participants connect with a nonprofit organization where they will complete a yearlong internship as a non-voting member of the board. 

“YLC trains the best and brightest young professionals within our community.  Our students transition from the program with an exceptional amount of skill, knowledge, and confidence – empowered to make an impact for our nonprofit community,” said Kim James, Young Leaders Council executive director.  “By focusing on the leadership goals of participants and needs of our nonprofit partners, the program is fully immersive and strategically designed to ensure student success.”     

Over the past 35 years, more than 2,700 students have participated in the YLC program, providing highly-skilled community servants to support hundreds of nonprofit partners in the Nashville and surrounding area.  Kim James, YLC’s Executive Director says “our program is designed to empower young professionals who are aiming to take their community involvement to the next level.  The unique training and professional engagement offered through YLC ensures that each student is exceptionally prepared to make an impact and help address the need for effective volunteer leaders in the nonprofit boardroom.”

About Young Leaders Council Young Leaders Council was founded in 1985 by the Council of Community Services, the HCA Healthcare Foundation, and the United Way.  More than 175 graduates enter the nonprofit community each year from five YLC classes, including two in Davidson County and three in partnership with the Junior League of Nashville, Williamson, Inc. (Chamber), and Belmont University – Jack C. Massey School of Business.  To learn more about YLC, please visit

The Hill We Climb: A Panel Discussion on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

The Hill We Climb: A Panel Discussion on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Event moderator Joyce Searcy with panelists: Yuri Cunza, Ashlee Davis, Joanne Pulles, and Yanika Smith Bartley

Recently, Young Leaders Council (YLC) hosted The Hill We Climb: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Discussion Panel featuring Joyce Searcy, Founder and Principal of Momentum, LLC and Community Relations Director for Belmont University, as moderator.  Guest panelists included: Joanne Pulles, Vice-President for Community Engagement at HCA Healthcare and President of the HCA Healthcare Foundation; Yanika Smith-Bartley, Vice President and Chief Diversity & Talent Strategy Officer for Asurion; Yuri Cunza, President and CEO of the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; and Ashlee Davis, Vice President and Senior Diversity & Inclusion Manager for AllianceBernstein (AB). If you missed the live panel discussion, you can watch the event recording below.    

Event Attendees engaged in virtual networking on platform, iBreakthrough.

Sponsored by diversity consulting firm, people3, the free virtual event welcomed close to 100 attendees and represented a major step for YLC as the organization seeks to create awareness and support systemic change throughout the Middle Tennessee non-profit community.  The panel discussion was part of YLC’s Impact Series, which provides continuing education enrichment for alumni and community partners. Participants left the event with insight, awareness and actionable steps to help them increase opportunity, equity and engagement of diverse voices throughout non-profit organizations and the community.

When asked why this conversation is important for YLC, panel moderator, Joyce Searcy said “the corporate and nonprofit leaders who participated in this important panel discussion are helping to prepare YLC students and alumni for the hill they must climb as board members within the Nashville community.  My hope is that as board leaders, they dare to ask the necessary questions, challenge the status quo, and create the perfect environment to drive change.”

Watch the instant replay.

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Is your organization breaking down DEI barriers?  We’d love to know your story!  Share your experiences and suggestions on how the nonprofit community can move the needle for increased equity and inclusion among our executive and board leadership using #NashvilleDEI.

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