FDU Hosts Conference for Women in Nonprofit Leadership

May 30, 2018 — Passionate. Experienced. Committed. A few words to describe the participants who recently gathered for FDU's 6th Annual Conference for Women in Nonprofit Leadership.

Women, from all over the State of New Jersey and beyond, gathered at the Madison Hotel in Morristown, NJ on May 17 to listen and learn, as to what opportunities the future may hold in the nonprofit community. Individuals with more than 20 years of experience and others just starting out, joined together as one, representing nonprofits with many different missions, visions, and values.

"For the past six years, the FDU conference addressing the issues of women leaders in the nonprofit community has represented something fantastic - that is, the opportunity for women to help women," said Sally Glick, principal and chief growth strategist, Sobel & Co., LLC, and Steering Committee Co-Chair. "When women come together, share their experiences, build relationships and network, it's quite powerful."

The theme of the conference, 'Looking to Tomorrow,' was carefully selected by the Center for Excellence: Leadership, Governance, and Philanthropy conference committee members. Important issues such as gaps in funding, the crowded nonprofit landscape, the cyclone of impacts on nonprofits including the importance of the 2020 census, were all discussed.

“There is such a great demand for nonprofit services in the state and not enough funding to go around," said Deborah A. Fredericks, associate dean of continuing education in Petrocelli College of Continuing Studies at FDU. “At FDU, we take great pride in educating the nonprofit leaders of today and tomorrow. As we all know, it is never too late to reinvent ourselves. Once you identify your passion in life, run with it, but take care of yourself along the way."

During the conference, experts in the nonprofit community addressed the anticipated challenges coming in the short and long-term, as well as the impact of these changes on women leaders.

One very clear message was delivered by Michele N. Siekerka, Esq., president and CEO of the NJ Business & Industry Association. During her presentation titled 'Non-Profit Nirvana...Taking Your Organization to the Next Level' she stressed the importance of empowering staff to do their job, providing resources, hosting trainings and setting them free. She also discussed the importance of lifting skills to lift wages in the workplace.

"The information presented at the conference is fabulous and the networking opportunities are endless and that is why I am back for a second year," said Michele A. DaSilva, director of education, Right 2 Breathe, a nonprofit based out of Flemington, NJ. "Right 2 Breathe has only been in existence for five years, I have a lot to learn. In addition, I am proud to say that I am an FDU alumna. I earned my Associate degree in Science in 1991 and Bachelor of Arts in 1996 from FDU's Florham Campus."

During the networking lunch, participants approached presenters with questions, traded business cards and spoke about their experiences.

"This is my second year back and FDU consistently does a good job with this conference," said Barbara Krusko, chief development officer, West Bergen Mental Healthcare, located in Ridgewood, NJ. "The conference is organized, diverse, and has good speakers."

Throughout the course of the day, the importance of self-care was discussed. Having a passion and working hard for your nonprofit is commendable, but avoiding burnout, setting boundaries and treating yourself is imperative. As a leader, one must kill negativity in a minute otherwise it will flourish.

Other topics focused on branding, the importance of social media, and the value of constant networking. There were many question and answer sessions, and participants took full advantage of those opportunities.

"It was so good to be in a room filled with women leaders who are doing great things to take care of their communities while learning to take care of themselves," added Jackie Lue Raia, director of corporate outreach and training for FDU’s Petrocelli College. "The new, professional business relationships created here today will continue to grow and we look forward to many future collaborations."

The Center For Excellence: Leadership, Governance and Philanthropy at Fairleigh Dickinson University was established to be the leading education support and training center dedicated to ensuring effective leadership in the nonprofit community. The Center is designed as a resource for emerging and ascending leaders in executive management, board leadership, and executive philanthropy. For more information, please visit www.fdu.edu/cfe.