'Reignite Your Vision' Theme of University's Axelson Symposium June 4-5

axelson symposium

'Innovation Institute' opens two-day event

CHICAGO (May 4, 2012) – More than 500 nonprofit leaders are expected to attend the 13th Annual Axelson Center Symposium for Nonprofit Professionals and Volunteers, June 4-5 in Chicago. The event is a key networking and professional development conference focused on effective strategies for leadership, innovation, funding, communication, and growth in the nonprofit sector. This year's conference theme is "Reignite Your Vision."

Hosting the event is North Park University's Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management, which works to enhance performance and effectiveness of individuals and organizations in the nonprofit sector through education, service, and resources. A pre-conference Innovation Institute on June 4, and the Symposium on June 5, will be held at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza.

Dr. Pier Rogers, director, Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management, said a goal of the conference is for participants to learn at least one "best practice" they can implement in their organizations. "We want attendees to think outside of the box. The language of management and best practices is something that we really want to encourage," she said.

The Symposium provides a "mind-opening opportunity" for nonprofit leaders to share ideas for excellence, said Kathy Schaeffer, Axelson Center advisory board member and president, Kathy Schaeffer & Associates, Inc., Chicago. "Every year, participants praise the Symposium for its on-target focus on the issues that matter most today. No other conference in Chicago attracts such a talented and diverse gathering of thoughtful, caring leaders dedicated to learning new and better ways to carry out their nonprofit missions," she said.

Harold Rice Jr., executive director and chief executive officer, Albany Park Community Center, said the Symposium will help to better position agencies to be "viable and relevant" for years to come. "The significance for nonprofit leaders at all levels to attend this year’s Axelson Symposium is because it's filled with critical information and tools for those in the leadership position to make significant impact and critical gains with the negative headwinds that this sector will face for the next 2 to 5 years," said Rice, also an Axelson Center advisory board member.

Highlighting the June 4 Innovation Institute is an internationally known speaker on workplace innovation, Larry Keeley, who is president and co-founder, Doblin Inc., Chicago. Other speakers that day are Mary F. Morten, president, Morten Group, Chicago; Martin Levine, general director, JCC Chicago; and Dr. Robert Wright, chief executive officer, the Wright Institute, Chicago.

Presenting the opening keynote address at the June 5 Axelson Symposium is Robert Egger, founder and president, Washington-based DC Central Kitchen, the nation's first "community kitchen." "We think he will really add to what we hope this conversation will be about — innovation, and about reigniting the vision of your organization going forward," Rogers said. Aaron Hurst, president and founder, Taproot Foundation, New York City, will also speak June 5. Taproot connects pro bono business talent with organizations working to improve society, and has a Chicago location.

Attendees will learn from more than 40 experts leading concurrent workshops and forums on a variety of topics important to nonprofit leaders, such as board leadership, funding models, volunteer engagement, succession planning, communication, philanthropy, and a debate titled, "How Corporate Should Nonprofits Be?" A resource center includes more than 20 corporate and nonprofit exhibitors that will provide cost-saving resources and strategies for nonprofits.

At the Symposium luncheon program, the Alford-Axelson Award for Nonprofit Managerial Excellence will be presented to two nonprofit organizations that embody exemplary management practices. The Axelson Center Excellent Emerging Nonprofit Organization Award will be presented to one young organization with potential for growth and greater effectiveness. The luncheon emcee is Ana Belaval, morning news anchor for Chicago's WGN-TV.

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