YPAL is dedicated to championing inclusion and belonging. We were honored to be invited to the 2023 CNPE ChangeMaker’s Conference to put this work into action. Here is what we learned. 
By Alexis Miller, YPAL Ambassador

Oct 19, 2023

Hundreds of people representing local nonprofits, businesses and community organizations met for the ChangeMaker’s Conference at the Norton Healthcare Sports and Learning Center in Louisville’s Russell neighborhood.

The conference gave attendees the opportunity to learn how to make their nonprofits and organizations stronger and more inclusive. Attendees came to the conference with an open mind and full heart, and left with a vision and internal fire to make Louisville a place cultivating belonging, where everyone who utilizes any institution can take an active role in shaping their community.

john a. powell was the morning’s keynote speaker. He addressed how society and organizations have advanced from equality to equity, and now to belonging. When asked how society can keep moving forward
without having fully achieved the step before, Dr. powell gave a profound answer, that set the stage for the discussions to follow.

“Do you know what a moon moment is?” he asked.

He then described how U.S. President John F. Kennedy, in 1962, promised American citizens that we would place a man on the moon before the end of the decade. This promise was made without plans for the rocket being drawn up. The trip would require thousands of work hours, books of coding taller than their writers, and equipment that did not yet exist. But Kennedy’s promise spurred belief in the ability to achieve
this goal, and, in 1969, the Apollo 11 crew landed and Neil Armstrong became the first man on the moon.

What does this mean in terms of societal advancement, especially for nonprofits and businesses? It means that we are only limited by what we are able to dream! If we have an idea of what we want our future to look like, we can make plans and take the steps to make it a reality, no matter how daunting the tasks. With powell’s goal of universalism and belonging laid out before us, the conversation moved to difficult discussions about biases and creating meaningful connections prepared to take the steps that would be required of us.

Speakers from The Perception institute rounded out the morning session and much of the afternoon discussing how our internal biases (even those of which we may not be aware) affect our movement
through society and how we engage and connect with others in Louisville.

Louisville prides itself on its diversity and the steps actively being taken to overcome past discrimination that has had lasting impacts on groups in our community. This charge is often headed by local nonprofit groups, so we must be aware of our potential biases and actively combat them. YPAL also prides itself on being a diverse and inclusive group of young professionals and we strive to always have a warm welcome for anyone. YPAL’s mission is centered around our three pillars: connect, engage, and develop, and within “connect” we are seeking to increase togetherness and belonging. This involves equity training for board
members and utilizing our diverse group of Ambassadors to extend our reach to young professionals and the Louisville community as a whole.

The ChangeMaker’s conference gave us all a “moon moment” to collectively picture the future we would like to see in Louisville, and The Perception Institute gave us clarity and actionable steps we can take to see this idealized future blossom into reality. As a member of YPAL, I know I left with a renewed vigor and sense of urgency to put these practices into action and fight for the growth and advancement of YPAL, but also for a better, more connected future for Louisville where every citizen gets to help shape this city to which they BELONG!

All thanks to the Center for Nonprofit Excellence for hosting the ChangeMaker’s Conference 2023 and allowing YPAL to be a part of such an important day! Special thanks to john a. powell and The Perception
Institute for their powerful lessons on belonging and connection. Our gratitude goes to the LG&E KU Foundation, Brown-Forman, and Beam Suntory for sponsoring the Coffee and Networking, Lunch, and the Awards Celebration & Reception, respectively.

We cannot wait to see the growth of Louisville and the nonprofit community at next years’ conference!

To join Center for Nonprofit Excellence, click here.