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Get on Board! Young Professionals on Boards of Nonprofits and Associations

Many young (or new) professionals are interested in serving on the board of directors of a nonprofit or association. That's why a group of us (Shana Campbell, Gina McClure, Jennifer Teters, Garen Distelhorst, and I) from ASAE's Leadership Academy Class of 2010 developed a toolkit to provide helpful information on how you can find a board position, increase your chances for being selected for a board, and learn how you can best contribute as a board member. 

We created a survey that was sent out to young professionals to learn how they have been successful with getting on a board. The purpose of the survey was to gain insight into the tools and processes that young professionals used to get on a board of an association or nonprofit. The information from the survey was also found to be valuable for executives as it helps them understand the benefits of having a young professional on their board.

The survey asked questions like:

  • Why do young professionals want to serve on a board of a nonprofit or association?
  • How do young professionals find out about board positions?
  • What are the three most important actions that a young professional can take right now to improve his or her chances of being recruited or selected to serve on a board?
  • What assets, skills, or experiences do you think were essential for a young professional to be successful on a board?

This survey was supported by Boardsource, Humanics, Young Non-Profit Professionals Network and the ASAE Young Association Executives community. 

The results of the survey and project will be presented at the 2011 ASAE Great Ideas Conference on Monday, March 14. In addition, there will be follow-up publications released after the conference. If you're interested in this topic we would love to see your comments.

Rebecca Swain-Eng, MS, works for the American Academy of Neurology in St. Paul, Minn. She is a graduate of the inaugural class of the ASAE Leadership Academy.



I began serving on boards of associations in high school and find it to be rewarding, challenging and a fantastic learning opportunity. I've found that my experiences as a board member have given me a better appreciation for volunteer relations, governance and other areas that I don't get to focus on much in my job. I wish I could make it to Great Ideas this year to see the presentation, but regardless I look forward to any follow-up stories on this topic.

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