Last month, the Young Professionals Council hosted its first-ever virtual event for Omaha area YPs. Community Service 101, hosted by the Council’s Talent Development Committee, brought together a panel of four Omaha leaders to speak about how to get involved as a volunteer, committee member or board member in our city, and what you can gain from this type of experience.
Over 40 YPs joined to learn from Jennifer Jirak-Brungardt, the Executive Director of the Omaha West Rotary Club, Cindy Gonzalez, a Board Member for Completely Kids and UNO Publications, Marjorie Maas, the Executive Director of SHARE Omaha and Mick Mulhall a Board Member for Immigrant Legal Center of Omaha.
Panelists were asked a handful of questions from Council member moderators and the audience, but here are a few of things YPs might find helpful:
How do you join a board?
- It’s not as difficult as you may think, but takes some commitment. When you’ve found a group you want to get involved with, lean into your network and find out if there’s someone who’s willing to make a connection or introduction for you.
- Start out as a volunteer! Sometimes, being on a board can be a large commitment. By starting out a a volunteer for an organization or non-profit, you have time to make sure it’s a good match. This also shows the organization you are committed.
Why is it important?
- Research shows that organizations with diverse boards perform better.
- Diversity includes race, ethnicity, nationality, origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age, etc.
- Decisions being made now will affect our future, so we need to make our voice heard.
What are your boards/committees/groups looking for from young professionals?
- Boards are looking for YPs because they bring a new perspective and have a pulse on what’s happening in our community and on social media.
- Boards are also looking to YPs of color to serve as a voice for their communities, and to bring a diverse perspective within boards as well.
- The rules are always changing, and fast. Boards need people like YPs, who can adapt quickly to the demands and needs the organization might have.
What would a YP get out of serving on a board/committee?
- YPs can use their voice in a board/committee setting to influence change.
- You are able to serve your community in a new and exciting way. These experiences will enrich your perspective.
- In a board/committee position, you will quickly learn how business decisions are made, which can be helpful if you’re starting out in your career or are looking to gain leadership experience.
- You get to serve your community, but also serve yourself!
A few other helpful tips if you’re considering volunteering in a board or advisory member position:
- Make sure you’re committed.
- Attend the meetings and do the work beforehand. Read the agenda, follow up materials, and come prepared.
- Decisions are made by those who show up. If you raise your hand, pretty soon you’ll be seen as a leader.
- Learn by doing — jump in with both feet. Do your homework, review the work, policies, financials, etc. and set yourself up for success.
We believe we have some of the most talented YPs right here in Omaha and our city needs you. Check out our engagement directory and SHAREOmaha’s website to learn about different organizations you can get involved in Omaha today!