Independent Sector’s members represent the variety of ways that working toward the common good happens in our country, and they reflect an array of unique visions for making a better tomorrow.
Each month, we also get to ring in a number of “member-versaries.” Check out this month’s anniversaries (there are a lot this month!), and spend some time learning more about each of these organizations!
Young Nonprofit Professionals Network
Long before Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) was a true national network comprised of local chapters, it was a single chapter in the Bay Area. Before that, it was an open invite to young nonprofit employees in and around San Francisco to have an informal meetup in a bar to discuss shared challenges like low wages, limited opportunities for advancement or professional development, and an earnest desire to build more sustainable careers in the sector. That first meeting took place in 1997, and for more than a decade after—with YNPN chapters cropping up in cities across the country—the network was an entirely volunteer-run operation with a working National Board. In 2011 YNPN—headquartered in Portland, Oregon—hired its first executive director and continued to expand its staff and offerings to young nonprofit professionals. After serving as an interim co-director in 2016, current Executive Director Jamie Smith took the reins of the national organization in 2017. In addition to leading this long-time IS member org, Jamie was a member of our previous cohort of American Express NGen Fellows. As part of the culminating project from the 2017 program year, check out Jamie’s conversation with Ola Ojewumi and Jeremie Greer about racial justice.
Peter G. Peterson Foundation
Founded in 2008 and headquartered in New York City, the Peterson Foundation has been a member of IS from its founding. From its inception, the foundation has raised awareness about America’s long-term fiscal challenges and served as a forum to discuss solutions to ensure a sustainable economic future. In its ten years, the foundation has become one of the leading nonpartisan national voices on issues of fiscal responsibility. Though the Peterson Foundation is a powerful force in the policy space today, its founder had humble beginnings in the American Heartland. As the son of Greek immigrants who operated a 24/7 Greek diner in Nebraska in the Great Depression, Peter G. Peterson took lessons from his parents’ sense of hard work and commitment to community. Recent news from the foundation include the completion of its ninth annual Fiscal Summit earlier this month and the passing of its founder and namesake in March prior to that. Today, the foundation is led by the late founder’s son, Michael A. Peterson.
The seeds of the Saint Paul-based Jefferson Center were planted in 1971, when political scientist Ned Crosby began working on a doctoral dissertation on social ethics with the aim of refining an innovative process for democratic decision-making. That method was formally coined in the late 80s as the Citizens Jury, and Crosby founded the Jefferson Center in 1974 to build upon the method and develop similar democratic decision-making processes that could be scaled to guide policy decisions. In subsequent decades, the Center was a guiding force through an uptick in the use of Citizen Juries to evaluate policy issues until, in 2013, Crosby stepped down from the day-to-day management of the center. Since then, it has been led by Kyle Bozentko. Though the main office is still in Saint Paul, the Jefferson Center has an Ohio Branch office in Akron.
This San Francisco-based firm was founded by yet another of our NGen Fellows program alums, Amy Lazarus. As the name of Lazarus’s org suggests, it is dedicated to making welcoming and effective spaces the norm in workplaces and communities toward faster systems change. In addition to the numerous innovation networks Amy is engaged with now, she has more than 20 years of experience in diversity and inclusion work in a variety of settings. Earlier this year, when we asked Amy and a few other NGen Fellows alums from different cohort years to reflect on their experience in the program, Amy spoke to a few of the many meaningful connections she’s made in her time working to advance equity.
American Indian Science and Engineering Society
Founded in 1977, the Albuquerque-based American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) sustains 189 chartered college and university chapters, 15 professional chapters, and 158 affiliated K-12 schools dedicated to increasing representation of American Indian students in STEM studies and careers. As an eminent leader in STEM opportunity for American Indians, AISES has awarded over $10.3 million in academic scholarships to students taking advantage of its programs and resources. AISES is led by Sarah EchoHawk (Pawnee). In addition to its main Albuquerque location, AISES has a Colorado office located in Boulder.