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Why did you apply to be a Nonprofit Board Fellow? 

Before coming to Kellogg, I worked in fundraising at UChicago Medicine. I knew that I wanted to stay involved in nonprofit work and gain experience on a board. I was also interested in building my nonprofit network, especially with an organization that had national reach. The Board Fellows program and YMCA were perfect for that. The structure of the program itself was also a draw for me. It was an honor to be part of such a small cohort and I liked the idea of going through more intense training that lasted longer than alternative options—it really gave us the opportunity to build relationships across our cohort

Can you describe your experience?

The training is phenomenal. I would have always been hard working and committed as a nonprofit volunteerlots of people are, especially at business school. But the difference in the Board Fellows program is that you get such specific and detailed training that most people, even established board members, never have. Whether it was on high level topics like fiduciary responsibility or tactical questions about tax filings, that training gave me a jump start that made me confident enough to try things outside of my comfort zone.

What were your biggest takeaways?

I really came to appreciate that, even though I was the youngest person in a room of people who’ve had incredible careers, I did know enough to belong there. The academic framing and the opportunity to share notes with other Fellows had helped me understand what distinguishes functioning vs non-functioning boards. I felt like I could add value. The experience has also helped me be more strategic when deciding how to use my time on a board, what types of projects or committees I work on, etc. That will make a big difference as I continue to be involved with YMCA of the USA and other nonprofits.

What surprised you about your experience?

As a Fellow, something that surprised me was that the board I was on was so welcoming. It can be intimidating being in your late twenties and joining a board of accomplished professionals, but everyone was so generous. I was able to get to know inspiring leaders of major companies and that taught me a lot. A second thing that surprised me—as part of the student leadership team—was just how complex it is to build a cohort. We had such a diverse, talented, and committed group of applicants, it was really hard to narrow down. I found that role challenging, but also a very rewarding part of the experience. 

What advice would you have for prospective or current students who are interested in the program?

For me, the program was extremely rewarding, and having the opportunity to join the board afterwards is truly special. But it is a major commitment. As an applicant, try and be clear on why you're passionate about this and be able to convey those passions. Then, as a Fellow, I would say you should prioritize networking: with your nonprofit, but also with the rest of your cohort. Everyone gets the benefits of the curricular component, but beyond the academics, different people find different parts of the experience most engaging. For you, it might be learning about other people’s approaches or the amazing discussions at small group dinners. Don’t wait for a reason; maximize your opportunities to get to know people.

Golub Capital Board Fellows Program Nonprofit / YMCA of the USA

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