Last year, TNOYS held its first-ever leadership conference for nonprofit executives in an effort to meet the need for quality leadership and management training in the nonprofit sector. After a successful event and positive feedback from attendees, we brought back the conference for a second year and once again were able to share some valuable training and insight for the leaders who attended. Held on August 8 in Austin, “Leading Together: TNOYS’ 2nd Annual Leadership Conference for Nonprofit Executives,” provided a chance for nonprofit leaders to come together to learn from both each other and the impressive lineup of expert speakers.
This year’s conference theme, “Leading Together,” inspired many of the keynote speakers to share learnings that focused on the importance of collaboration in effective leadership. Opening keynote Pamela Benson Owens, a management and leadership consultant, focused on the importance of internal collaboration within an organization. She shared best practices for effectively leading a team, including putting people in roles that best fit their strengths and ensuring they are given the space to focus on their jobs and not overstretched. Dr. Michael Hole, a pediatrician, professor, and Presidential Leadership Scholar, focused on reaching across sectors in the community to improve services. He cited programs his Opportunity Ventures project has spearheaded, including StreetCred, a program that helps low-income clients receive help with tax preparation while waiting for medical appointments. Similarly, lunchtime keynote speaker Dr. Colleen Bridger, the City Manager of San Antonio, spoke about how dozens of entities came together to help San Antonio develop a certification program for trauma-informed care.
In addition to hearing these inspiring speakers, attendees were also given the opportunity to focus on skill-building during two workshop sessions that were held throughout the day. Attendees could choose from workshop options along three different topic tracks: Organizational Development, Operational Management, and Leadership Development. Workshops included nuts and bolts skills such as fundraising, branding, and managing multi-generational teams. Given the smaller group size of the workshop, discussion and personalization of content was encouraged. One session in particular with leadership consultant Alise Cortez allowed for individualized reflection, with attendees taking a Gallup Strengths Finder assessment in advance and then analyzing the results together on-site.
The day closed out with an inspirational talk from closing keynote Mary Flanagan, Executive Director of HERdacity, who shared tips with attendees about keeping your passion alive in nonprofit leadership. And in a final closing session, consultants Dr. Lynda Frost and Anna Jackson led the group in an interactive, collaborative exercise using the Liberating Structures framework that encouraged them to reflect on learnings from the day.
Throughout the event, there were many opportunities for nonprofit executives in attendance to get to know and learn from each other, including a networking reception the night before the conference, and breakfast and lunch gatherings.
TNOYS is very grateful to the many expert speakers and sponsors who gave their time and resources to make this event possible, as well as the attendees who took time out of their demanding schedules to travel to Austin for the experience. We look forward to offering more leadership and professional development training opportunities in the future!