I am serving the Detroit community through enabling Co.act Detroit to help develop the next cohort of nonprofit leaders. These leaders will make invaluable contributions to the Detroit community, and be better equipped to do so through my contribution. My partner, Suzie Choi, and my project is to analyze the current status of the nonprofit leadership pipeline, and to create recommendations that address issues with the path nonprofit professionals take towards becoming a leader in the sector. This includes researching professional development opportunities, practices, and programs that can better prepare these nonprofit professionals to take the next step in their career. It also includes interviewing current stakeholders in the sector that know of trends or shortcomings in existing nonprofit leadership structures currently impacting Executive Directors and emerging leadership talent. It also includes figuring out the skills and competencies that are most essential for nonprofit leaders to have to take the next step. Lastly, it also requires understanding leadership practices and models that allow leaders to enjoy more balanced lives, and be more effective at the same time - thereby increasing retention of these talented individuals.
The impact these recommendations could have, if implemented by Co.act Detroit, Michigan Community Resources, and their partner organizations, on the leadership pipeline in Southeast Michigan is invaluable. Currently talented individuals with immense leadership potential (including Kyla, my boss at Co.act, who stated this to Suzie and I directly) in the space do not want to pursue Executive Director roles due to the impact these roles have on the lives of those who hold them. The issues in the nonprofit sector - long hours, low wages, and emotionally draining work - lead to burnout and an exodus from the sector. These recommendations, if implemented, would retain individuals currently leaving the sector, prepare them for Executive Director roles, and allow them to stay in the sector longer due to healthier leadership practices.
The results of this could be incredible. Proper development opportunities and healthier work practices could attract talented college graduates, and professionals in the private sector suffering under stressful work conditions. These individuals could make incredible differences, and continue to implement the organizational practices that attracted them to the work. They would be a part of a chain reaction of more and more talented individuals entering the space and improving the communities of Detroit, which, even as Detroit is seeing a renaissance, need increased assistance. The construction of an improved nonprofit leadership pipeline could truly result in a revitalized nonprofit sector and flourishing Detroit.