The following is written by Nichole Martini, Co-Chair of the EPIP-NY Chapter.
EPIP is Transformative. EPIP inspires me. Through all the ways I have participated in EPIP, I have moved to a deeper understanding that there is a movement building; a movement of an entire generation of philanthropy professionals that will change the world. EPIP serves the young in philanthropy, but also those new to its circles. Over the years, I have never found such an honest, open, and trusted circle of colleagues as I have at EPIP. The National Conference is always like a homecoming, re-connecting with those who keep returning, and embracing those who are new each year. We are creating a passionate body of people taking on leadership challenges all throughout the country and the world with a similar commitment to work together and guide philanthropy to a new level of impact. It is through this collaboration and spirit of camaraderie that we can hold each other accountable to the values that we share for ourselves and for our sector.
EPIP Cultivates Leadership. In a recent leadership team meeting at Equality Charter School (my new employer), we were asked what we thought the difference between management and leadership was. My reply: “management is moving a team or system towards action and leadership is a state of being.” This distinction for me has developed in large part by the support and nurture of EPIP and my progressive roles in it. EPIP’s National Conference theme this year was “Lead.” This call to action to develop a state of being, a presence as a leader, was particularly poignant in my new role of responsibility as the Director of Development. Leadership is beyond the amount of people you manage, projects you complete, or systems you implement. It is a state of being that acknowledges the power of your own voice and the impact the risk-taking can have on the world. Leadership creates change. EPIP is a place where this state of being can be cultivated in a community that wants each and every person to understand their own power and collectively work together for the improvement of the entire world.
EPIP is an investment with an exponential ROI. Every year I have to self-fund my involvement with EPIP including membership and the trip to the conference, wherever it happens to be in the country. Each time the conference nears, I debate whether it is worth the financial investment. I keep investing. Reason being, in terms of re-charging my passion and providing clarity of why I am in the non-profit sector, EPIP sincerely provides an exponential ROI. I am energized by the intelligent conversations of my colleagues from around the country, the networking that is easy in the space that EPIP creates, and the intergenerational learning that EPIP cultivates through its bridge to more senior leaders in the field. If I come to the conference discouraged about the sector, I leave with a renewed hope for change.
EPIP is Life Changing. Few things can be said to be “life-changing” in the field of philanthropy. Most of us get frustrated with the perpetuation or deepening of the problems we are trying to solve through strategic philanthropic investment. We have the same conversations and the same challenges of implementation each year. However, my experience with EPIP has been sincerely life changing. Maybe it is the age of our membership, or the unconquerable spirit of the community, but EPIP is a movement, as Winston Churchill said that will: “Never, never, never, never give up.” This year’s conference was a powerful reminder of what can be achieved through leadership development and an investment in a movement: Change.
This series, “Conference Reflections,” will feature a new post from one of our 2013 National Conference participants. To check out more of what happened during those three magical days, check out this site. And follow these posts to hear more from the fabulous leaders who made it what is was.