If you weren’t at last week’s Young Nonprofit Professional’s Network (YNPN) event– Blog Out Loud: Tomorrow’s Leaders Talk Today— then you really missed out. The event, held at the Grandel Theatre in Grand Center and hosted by the St. Louis Chapter of YNPN, gave eight current/future leaders of our community the chance to share what’s on their mind today when it comes to nonprofits in St. Louis. Each speaker had 10 minutes to share their perspective and vision.
The speaker line up was diverse and the topics were both creative and interesting. Some speakers went the slightly more formal route and used powerpoint point and posters to enhance their presentations while other chose to just speak from the heart.
While all of the presenters did a really great job, one speaker in particular really seemed to capture the audience’s attention- Stephanie Krauss. For those of you who don’t know Stephanie, she is the inspirational leader of the Shearwater Education Foundation that works to reengage St. Louis City’s disconnected and dropout youth back into school, and get them ready for life. Krauss collaborates with 10 nonprofits to run Shearwater High School, a college preparatory charter school for disconnected and dropout youth, on the campus of Ranken Technical College.
Krauss brings a unique mix of professional credibility, personal experience, and passion to her current role as President/CEO of Shearwater Education Foundation. At 16, Krauss dropped out of school due to factors similar to those faced by St Louis’s disconnected youth. Soon after leaving school she received her General Equivalency Diploma (GED). Krauss went on to enroll in college, graduate less than three years later, and begin Teach For America at age 18, making her one of the organization’s youngest Corps Members ever.
The topic of her “blog” was “Getting great counsel: Know what you don’t know. Know the people who do.” She told the story of how her network of advisors and personal mentors have been critical players in both starting and running Shearwater. Stephanie shared the types of mentors she sought out and how she developed relationships with them. Her presentation led to three main pieces of advice:
- Be honest and humble (know what you don’t know).
- Be specific and strategic in what you are asking for of your mentors and ask lots of questions. This is the time to listen.
- Get mentors and advisors for whom you would drop everything for if they called you with any sort of request (know the people who do). These are people you should have immense respect for. Let the men and women who are older and more experienced than you guide you, let them be parental.
The other great speakers for the day included:
- Dave Dietrich, Director of Development for the American Youth Foundation
Topic: Board Ranker
- Rebecca Dohrman, Assistant Professor of Communication for Maryville University
Topic: Bridging the Gap Between Nonprofits and Academia
- Shante “Mama Life” Duncan,Founder and Chief Executive of S.H.E.R.A.H. (Sisters Helping Each Other Reach A Higher Height)
- Kate Howell, Development & Communications Manager/Assistant Director, Festival of Nations for the International Institute of St. Louis
Topic: The Power of Diverse Communities and Attracting More Immigrants to the Nonprofit Sector
- Matt Menietti, Program Associate for Capital Innovators
Topic: Is Co-Playing the Solution to St. Louis’ Brain Drain?
- Juard van Dijkhorst, Nine Voices Community Producer for Nine Network of Public Media
Topic: Collective Impact and Public Media
- Bill Winfrey, Program Coordinator for America SCORES
Topic: St. Louis’ City-County Divide & Hanging on to Our Top Grads