Alumni Spotlight (Dr. Kyla Stripling and The Well Coffeehouse)

Alumni Spotlight (Dr. Kyla Stripling and The Well Coffeehouse)

Dr. Kyla Stripling Dr. Kyla Stripling, Ed.D., is the Senior Director of Strategy and Transformation for Amsurg and a graduate of the YLC 2023 Junior League of Nashville Cohort. Kyla is currently serving her YLC board internship with The Well Coffeehouse, an organization committed to Turning Coffee Into Water and focused on finding sustainable solutions to poverty. The Well Coffeehouse turns profits into hope by using its revenue to make a difference in local and global communities.

We recently caught up with Kyla, who also serves as a board member for a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Advisory Council, to learn more about her experience as a board internship work for The Well Coffeehouse and how it differs from the work of the for-profit board she supports.

In what ways has your YLC training helped prepare you for success as a nonprofit board member?

YLC helped hone my leadership abilities, deepen my understanding of nonprofit operations, and enhanced my community engagement skills. Through YLC, I learned valuable project and volunteer management techniques and how to foster effective teamwork and collaboration. The training emphasized adaptability, problem-solving, and reinforced a strong commitment to ethics and social responsibility as a board member. These skills are critical for navigating the challenges of nonprofit governance and help to ensure that I effectively contribute meaningfully to the organization’s mission.

You also serve as a for-profit board member for the DEI Advisory Council. How has that experience been different or similar to your experience as a nonprofit board member for The Well Coffeehouse?

Serving on a mission-driven nonprofit board differs from a for-profit company’s DEI board mainly in focus and objectives. Nonprofit boards are dedicated to advancing specific social, environmental, or humanitarian goals, measuring success by their impact and community service. In contrast, DEI boards within for-profit entities balance promoting inclusivity and equity with achieving business goals, aiming to enhance performance through diversity. Thus, the nonprofit board experience centers on mission fulfillment, while DEI board service intertwines social justice with business outcomes.

How can other YLC alumni support the mission of The Well Coffeehouse?

I encourage YLC alumni to support The Well Coffeehouse by following the organization through social media, patronizing one of its five Nashville area locations, shopping in the online store, or donating to support an upcoming water project.

Alumni Spotlight: Nikki Walker, Executive Director of the East Nashville Hope Exchange

Alumni Spotlight: Nikki Walker, Executive Director of the East Nashville Hope Exchange

Nikki Walker photoNikki Walker is a graduate of YLC’s Nashville Class 77 and currently serves as the Executive Director for East Nashville Hope Exchange (ENHE), an organization focused on strengthening children’s literacy through the exchange of knowledge and support among families and the Nashville community to affirm the right to read for all. YLC recently caught up with Nikki to learn more about her work and how she’s using her professional passion to make a difference in the East Nashville area.

Please tell us a little about your work with the East Nashville Hope Exchange. How did you get involved with the organization and how does the mission align with your own personal values?

In my role as Executive Director for East Nashville Hope Exchange, I am responsible for the planning, management, and direction of the organization’s operations and programs. ENHE provides programming designed to close the educational “achievement gap” between children from poorer and more affluent families. This gap has increased due to learning loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Youth literacy rates in the U.S. are at the lowest level in thirty years and are even worse among low-income families and especially for black and brown students.

I started working with ENHE in 2017 as a summer volunteer coordinator and, after transitioning to a new role with a different company, continued to stay engaged with the organization as a program volunteer before joining the Board. The work that I’m able to do through ENHE fuels me each day to ensure that all children have access to a good education, and I will continue advocating until access is no longer a barrier.

How did your YLC training prepare you to effectively serve as a leader in the nonprofit community?  Are there elements of the program that have been particularly useful for you in your current role?

YLC provided me with a better perspective of how nonprofit boards work, and how the collective impact of the work affects the organization’s goals and outcomes. Before going through the program, I didn’t truly understand how all of that came together. Now in my current role, the most useful things learned were centered around board responsibilities, understanding the financials, and fundraising. I have learned that these are the most important things to know when leading and driving success for the organization. Gaining knowledge from YLC’s experts in these areas, really prepared me for what I am doing now.

What advice would you share with others looking to elevate their community impact by serving on a nonprofit board or becoming an executive leader for a nonprofit organization?

I would tell them to make sure that the work of the organization aligns with your passion. Truly take the time to learn about the organization, ask meaningful questions, and, if you can, go see the work in action. That will really help you decide whether that is in fact the area in which you want to serve. For those looking to become nonprofit executive leaders, it’s important to invest your time in learning the operational structure of the organization you desire to lead.

For more information on East Nashville Hope Exchange, please visit or reach out to Nikki directly at

Fall Impact Series 2022

YLC hosted its first Fall Impact Series Half-Day Conference on Thursday, September 29th at the Family & Children’s Service – Honey Alexander Center. The Fall Impact Series was sponsored by Amazon and offered attendees an opportunity to network and hear unique perspectives on pressing topics related to nonprofit board leadership from recognized community leaders.

Photos by Roland’s Photography

The Conference featured two discussion tracks, including a conversation with highly accomplished nonprofit board and executive leaders focused on “Driving Mission and Board Success”. Beth Torres, President & CEO of Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee; Perri duGard Owens, Board Chair for the Nashville Children’s Theatre and President & CEO of duGard Communications; and Cullen Douglass, Board Chair for Family & Children’s Service and Wealth Management Advisor with Northwestern Mutual, served as panelist for session one. Sarah Rochford Benfield, YLC Board Chair and Business Analyst Executive Support for HCA Healthcare, served as moderator.

Photos by Roland’s Photography

Session two focused on identifying “Strategies to Build and Maintain an Equitable and Inclusive Leadership Environment.” The conversation featured perspectives from notable education and philanthropic leaders such as Dr. Maya Bugg, CEO of the Tennessee Charter School Center; Kaki Friskics-Warren, Executive Director of the Maddox Fund; and Samuel Jackson, VP of Programs & Grants for The Healing Trust. Dr. Candace Warner, Founder & CEO of people3, Inc. served as moderator.

Photos by Roland’s Photography

YLC is grateful for the generosity support provided by Amazon and for the thoughtful discussion and suggestions shared by our panelists. 

Would you like to share your feedback for future Impact Series topics? We would love to hear from you! Please email your suggestions to Kim James at

Spotlight on Spring 2022 Graduates

Spotlight on Spring 2022 Graduates

Mallory Yoder – Nashville Class 78
Lead Manager, Business Engagement Strategies
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

I loved the opportunity to meet new people in different industries through the YLC program. I also enjoyed learning more about the nonprofit organizations that are helping make a difference in the communities we call home! 

YLC taught me the important leadership role board members serve for nonprofit organizations – and more importantly how board members can lead with passion and servant hearts to selflessly support organizations and communities. The program is so engaging and inspiring, and everything I learned through YLC can also be applied in your professional capacity.

Jackson Zeitlin – Belmont-Massey / Nashville Class 78
Affiliate Broker
Zeitlin Sotheby’s International Realty

Through the YLC program, I gained a foundational knowledge of how I can apply my skills and expertise to organizations in a way that will truly benefit them and support their mission. I now feel that I can provide professional value and leadership support beyond the basics of volunteering

I also really enjoyed interacting with such a broad spectrum of young professionals who were interested in giving back to the Nashville nonprofit community. As a community that affords us so many opportunities, it was a great reminder that there are plenty of people that desire to go the extra mile for the causes they care about. Everything I learned in the YLC program has value that extends into other facets of my life.

Brittainy Hall – Nashville Class 78
Senior Consultant
Kotter Inc.

There were many aspects of the YLC program that I enjoyed, but the one thing that stood out the most was the opportunity to engage and learn from a diverse group of thought leaders. Every week I left feeling inspired and more knowledgeable than I did before I started the session. There aren’t many leadership development programs where you have the opportunity to learn from such a unique group of subject matter experts and community leaders.

I also gained a new level of confidence and a growing network of support through YLC. I started the program knowing virtually nothing about what it meant or what it took to be an impactful nonprofit board member. Over the years, I have continuously searched for a way to give back to the community that also helped me develop professionally, and YLC helped me achieve that goal. The wisdom, knowledge, and relationships that I have been able to cultivate during my YLC journey have been unmatched. I am super grateful that I took my dear friend’s advice and applied. This experience, I believe, has changed the trajectory of my career and life for the better. 

Joseph Underwood Nashville Class 78
Senior Supply Chain Analyst
Tractor Supply Company

The time spent learning and hearing from the other participants of the cohort was easily the most enjoyable part of the program. Listening to the ideas that they have and understanding their backgrounds on how they came to think or feel that way gave me new perspectives on a variety of topics. I would encourage anyone going through the program to come in with an open mind and the desire to learn not just from the great teachers, but also from your fellow cohort members.

I think the investment in training for the program is indispensable. Our cohort was able to learn from industry and non-profit leaders with years of experience. The ability to hear from them and leverage their experience as well as collaborate with my classmates about their own experiences gave me a wealth of knowledge about the nonprofit space and the responsibility that their board members carry. I would recommend this program to anyone who is wanting to not only learn and develop but more importantly wanting to give back to their communities now and moving forward. You are able to build relationships with the other members of the cohort, spend time learning from so many industry titans, and make a difference in the community you live in. The commitment of time and resources will pay off exponentially.

Alumni Spotlight – Winter Newsletter 2019

Alumni Spotlight – Winter Newsletter 2019

Alumni Spotlight: Dana Blickwedel (Class 17)

Dana Blickwedel, YLC graduate of Class 17, is our honored guest in the Alumni Spotlight of the Winter Newsletter. He is a seasoned professional in all things business strategy and currently serves as Vice President at Tennessee Craft, an organization that supports the growth of artists in Tennessee.

Dana opened his home for the YLC Christmas Party December 11, and we are delighted to feature Dana in our Winter Newsletter as well. Get to know a little more about Dana and his experiences since graduating the YLC program.

How has YLC positively impacted you since you graduated the program? 

It has broadened my exposure to the many opportunities there are to make a positive impact to our community.  By becoming involved with community organizations I was able to improve my leadership skills and appreciate different perspectives that I might not otherwise have encountered.

Have you served on boards since you graduated and which ones? 

Tennessee Craft Board, Past Treasurer, Current Vice Chair; Belmont Mansion Board;  Belmont Foundation Board, Treasurer; St. Ann’s Episcopal Church Vestry; St. Peter’s Episcopal Church Vestry

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received and from whom? 

Take ownership of your mistakes and learn from them.

What book have you most recently read and loved? 

Read AND loved?  That is a tough one.  Though not particularly recent, I would say “Boys in the Boat.”

What are three things you can’t live without? 

Easy……Faith, Hope, & Love.