Feb 28, 2023 | All Alumni, Nashville Alumni, YLC News
Nikki 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 www.enhopeexchange.org or reach out to Nikki directly at email@example.com.
Jun 30, 2022 | All Alumni, Junior League Alumni, Nashville Alumni, YLC News
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
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
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.
Dec 19, 2019 | All Alumni, News, Nonprofit News
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.