Nonprofit Management Summer Camp: Marlboro College hosts intensive workshops

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BRATTLEBORO — On Friday, Aug. 18, Marlboro College's Center for New Leadership is organizing a Nonprofit Management Summer Camp. According to Kerry Secrest, one of the presenters, attendees will gain new skills and network with others in the nonprofit sector in a relaxed setting.

"It's a fun day," she said. "As adults we don't get to go to summer camp, and this is a pretty close deal to that. There's a lot of laughter."

Participants choose one 90-minute workshop in the morning and one in the afternoon. Options include "Making Your Meetings Amazing" and "Become an Email Master," both offered by Travis Hellstrom, as well as workshops on collective impact, offered by Jodi Clark, and shared leadership, presented by Lori Hanau.

Secrest herself is presenting two workshops. She said that "Time Trap: Overcoming the Myth That It Can All Be Done" is designed to help participants prioritize their needs.

"It's not really time management, which assumes that if I organize my to-do list, it can all be done," she explained. "Rather, it brings the question of what I really want to do because we can't get it all done."

Her other workshop, "Giving and Receiving Effective Feedback," examines the feedback process from various perspectives.

"It can be a number of scenarios — a supervisor to an employee, peer to peer, or even in your personal life," Secrest said. "There's more of a thoughtful process as to how to look at feedback so that it can be given in a way that can be heard, and you can also give the feedback that you need to give, so that both parties' needs are given consideration.

"I also will be talking about how to prepare ourselves — even in our bodies — when we know we need to have a difficult conversation," she continued. "When we're afraid, adrenaline can start running, and that can be counterproductive for having a calm conversation. And it's also important to learn how to stay grounded when we receive difficult feedback. My intention is always to help people leave with a plan to increase their skillfulness in a way that will be helpful to them longterm."

Secrest traced her interest in working with individuals within an organization to her work with the American Red Cross.

"When I worked in Washington, D.C. at the American Red Cross, I was the director for youth programs," she recalled. "When I started to put an emphasis on the team and leadership, we accomplished so much more, in contrast to my first year as a manager where I would only focus on the outcomes.

"Then I started doing retreats with my staff on a quarterly basis, and loved it, and they loved them," she went on. "When I moved up to Vermont, I started thinking about how I could focus on this aspect of the work. I took a job at the Brattleboro Retreat in human resources, and then moved out to consulting on my own, so I could focus on the organizational-development side of human resources."

She noted that during her career she has concentrated increasingly on the role of individuals in an organization.

"I've learned that it all starts with the self," she commented. "Leadership starts with your own inquiry and your own reflection about what your patterns are and where they came from."

She said that she finds her work with organizations and individuals enormously rewarding.

"I love being able to support people and organizations to increase their impact and change for good," she concluded.

For more information about Marlboro's Nonprofit Management Summer Camp, call the Center for New Leadership: 802-258-9200, or click on https://www.marlboro.edu/community/cnl.

Maggie Brown Cassidy, a frequent contributor to the Reformer, can be reached at mcassidy@sover.net.

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