President's Perspective Blog

Mike’s Monday Message Takeover: AFP's Inaugural Leadership Institute Cohort

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Cohort 1

At AFP, we believe fundraisers belong at every organization’s leadership table. The Leadership Institute is our effort to support fundraisers who aspire to the next level of leadership in the nonprofit industry. This program encourages the development of leaders who value IDEA and ethics as cornerstones of their practice.

After years of research, conversations, and collaboration, we were thrilled to launch the inaugural Leadership Institute cohort in Saint Paul, MN last week. During the week, participants learned through individual and group reflection, small group activities, and experiential learning exercises. Each activity addressed the four pillars of the program — culture building, self and other awareness, growth mindset and learning agility, and effective communication.

The leadership institute classroom

Participants were challenged to communicate their core values, define what they need in organizational culture, and what they want to contribute to that culture. In addition to guided lectures and group discussions, the cohort bonded during hands-on activities and a dynamic group simulation. At the conclusion of the week each participant left with an individualized career map, an action plan (comprising both 30 and 365 days), and a clearly defined personal brand.

As much as I enjoyed the week supporting this amazing group of professionals, I’m more excited to share the thoughts and takeaways from the participants themselves on the experience.

  •  “The AFP Leadership Institute Program is hands down some of the best leadership training that I have received, especially for nonprofit professionals. The International design of the program, the authentic conversations, well prepared instructors, mixed with a diverse group of professionals, made for a very open and welcoming environment for everyone to be authentic and vulnerable. I would highly recommend this course to anyone who is serious about their leadership role or to someone who desires to lead.” - Christopher Beck, Senior Advisor Principal Gifts and Inclusive Philanthropy, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
  •  “The AFP Leadership Institute was an invaluable experience for any fundraising professional who wants to prepare for a leadership role. It was everything you hope for in a professional development experience – outlook expanding, career mapping, and all with other professionals who are seeking the same thing in a kind and generous environment. I highly recommend and thank you AFP Global for this immersive new experience.” - Katie Cassidy, Assistant Director of Philanthropy, Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra
  •  “The fundraising profession now has an intentional and inspiring leadership program focused on empowering fundraisers. It is self-aware, growth-minded, and fun. This cohort has transformed me as a person, a professional, and as a leader! On the heels of beginning a new position, I am ready with a new perspective, increased confidence, and a visionary path to leading.” - Robert Suggs, CFRE, Director of Major Gifts, Trinity University

The Leadership Institute would not be possible without the efforts of some very important partners. Thank you, Lori Gusdorf, and the AFP Foundations for Philanthropy board of directors, for their unwavering support of this initiative; our Leadership Institute Advisory committee for their efforts supporting the program application and review process; and to Jeremy Wells, SVP of Philanthropic Services, Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation for hosting our first cohort at the Foundation and welcoming us to his city.

A special thank you to our partners from Carter Global and Bridge Philanthropic (Caitlin Green, Lenora Ritchie, Delphia Ridley, Dr. Gloria Chance, and Dr. Carter Womack) for their knowledge and expertise throughout the curriculum development process. To the facilitation team (Caitlin, Dr. Chance, and Dr. Womack) who guided our group throughout the week, your empathy, kindness, and authenticity were truly on display and felt by everyone.

To our inaugural cohort I want to say thank you for being present, engaged, and supportive of one another. I’m excited to see this group grow as professionals, leaders, and as a powerful force in the nonprofit sector. It was an honor to share this journey with you. After a long week of reflection, learning, and pushing beyond our comfort zones, to see the level of enthusiasm and excitement from the cohort about their experience was exciting to witness.

Leadership Institute Cohort Group Picture

At AFP we are committed to leadership development, and we are just getting started in this work. We look forward to continuing to engage this cohort and each cohort following, to promote the relationship building, networking, and continuous learning nonprofit professionals need to support their leadership journey.

Ian Adair, MS, ACNP
Director, Leadership Development & Credentialing

Ian Adair

Ian Adair is the Director of Leadership Development and Credentialing at the Association of Fundraising Professionals global office. Ian is a three-time nonprofit CEO, TEDx speaker, author, and recognized expert in leadership, fundraising, and nonprofit management. 

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11 Dec 2023 President's Perspective Blog
11 Dec 2023 Member Story
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