Week Three: Minnesota Nice
(Note: I realize that Minnesota Nice as a term doesn’t actually mean that people are friendly in MN, but that is what I mean here. I wanted to put that out there before my Minnesota friends think that I had a miserable week surrounded by passive-aggressive people.)
I spent most of this week back in Minnesota. I learned that Minnesota has a rich history with nonprofits, and that a lot of really talented and passionate people live and work here. Maybe one of them will bestow an Honorary Minnesotan title on me? Here are a few highlights of my week:
- APRA-Minnesota chapter conference. My colleague, Alison Roberts recommended I check this out (to read more about Alison, click here). This conference featured fellow east-coasters Lisa Howley and Chris Pipkins. The funny thing about this is that they both live in VA or MD, so I just flew 900 miles to see two people speak who live within a two hour drive from me! It was worth it- Lisa and Chris are seasoned and dynamic speakers. I especially enjoyed Lisa’s points about branding your team/yourself. Another highlight of this conference was APRA-MN in general. APRA was born out of MN, so it should be no surprise that this chapter is well-developed. Mark Egge is the outgoing president (he has a blog too…click here to read it), and in his state of the chapter he listed all of the benefits APRA-MN provides to its members. I was really impressed! Outside of their programmatic offerings, they maintain a list of research links (including Minnesota-specific ones), which is a great time saver if you work in a small shop. He mentioned they’re doing a new researchers boot camp in February, so if you live in/near MN and you’re new to the field, you might want to check that out. Here’s a photo from the conference of Mark giving his state of the chapter speech (disclaimer: I lifted this from the APRA-MN Facebook page):
- Minnesota Women’s Consortium friend raiser. My friend Jenny is on the board of this small but mighty organization, and she invited me to join her at a fundraiser/friend raiser since I was in town. I met a lot of great women and was motivated by the grassroots feel of this nonprofit (click here to go to their website). Apparently, Minnesota is the only state to have an organization devoted to gathering all sorts of partner organizations statewide in order to advance equality for women. Another victory by the great state of Minnesota!
- My first client engagement. This week I was honored and beyond excited to participate in my first client engagement at Concordia St. Paul. This may have been my favorite part of my time in MN (I suppose that’s a good thing, since its my job). I spent two days with Matt Hewitt and Ryan Marshall, two Concordia alums, and we walked through all sorts of research resources and methodologies. I learned something, hopefully they learned something, and it was a nice reminder of how you can do more with less. Small shops are forced to be creative about how to find information that larger shops take for granted, and I’m happy to say that we were able to get to everything we needed. Thanks to both of these guys for making my first gig so much fun!