Partner Spotlight - Nonprofit Association of Oregon

Organization Name: Nonprofit Association of Oregon

Organization Mission: The mission of the Nonprofit Association of Oregon is to strengthen the collective voice, leadership, and capacity of nonprofits to enrich the lives of all Oregonians.

Staff Size: 20 people (6 of those would self-identify as “young professionals”)

Location: We like to consider ourselves are part of the neighborhood communities that we serve which are – inner North/Northeast, St. Johns, The Pearl District/OldTown China Town, Beaumont & Rose City/Hollywood

Founding Date: 1977

Interviewee Information:

Name: Jim White

Title: Executive Director

At age 25, what were you doing and what were you thinking?
At age 25, I was in the US Army at Fort Bragg jumping out of planes and thinking I was helping bring an end to the Cold War. I have always had a mission focus to my career and I have been honored to serve in the nonprofit sector.

About the Nonprofit Association of Oregon:

Why is NAO’s work important?
NAO is vital to helping nurture nonprofit action, build connections and capacities and act as a megaphone for the voice of the nonprofit sector.

Why Portland?
NAO works all over the state, but is based out of Portland with partnership relations and connections throughout Oregon.

If NAO had a theme song, what would it be?
Lean on Me” by Bill Withers.

Great theme song! How about a dream spokesperson?
Dan Pink! Everyone should check him out:

What is NAO’s greatest frustration?
Getting the necessary national and local attention on the significant role of nonprofits in our society.

And on a lighter note, how about your greatest achievement?
Every day, working with nonprofit leaders to solve problems and build a better Oregon, is an achievement for NAO.

If NAO won it big on the lottery, what would you do with $100 million?
Dedicate those resources to building the voice, capacity and leadership of the sector and fund discussions on the tough questions facing the way nonprofits work… and the way we need to change.

All About Young Professionals:

What roles do young professionals fill at NAO?
Young professionals play vital roles throughout the organization – in management and coordination of NAO activities.

What is the greatest difficulty in employing young professionals? (Don’t worry… we won’t take it personally!)
Fitting skills sets with existing needs – and – taking chances on the potential of people that are really smart, but don’t yet have the experience or skills set for a specific job.

And better yet, what is the greatest reward in employing young professionals?
The enthusiasm, the passion, the desire (and drive!) to change the world…

What kinds of changes, if any, has NAO made to accommodate young professionals?
NAO has taken strides to clarify the potential growth trajectory within the organization to include young professionals, as well as providing professional development opportunities that will set young professionals up for a broad set of opportunities in the sector.

What are the top skills that you look for when hiring a young professional?
Capacity to learn and an ability to grow in the position.

What do you think is the greatest challenge facing young professionals today?
There is not enough upward mobility for young professionals yet… but the change in generational leadership is coming.

And more importantly, what should young professionals do in the face of that challenge?
Stay patient and keep pushing. Our sector needs the new ideas and passion of the snake people to keep us changing and creative.

And Before We Conclude:

If you had one bit of advice to pass along to young professionals in their pursuit of becoming tomorrow’s leaders, what would it be?
Take chances now while you can. Don’t live in regret for what you might have done. You will learn more from your mistakes than your successes.

What can YNPN Portlanders do to help NAO?
Keep questioning, keep pushing new models of social benefit, keep making the waves that will promote change!