'The Engagement Effect' Theme of Axelson Center Nonprofit Symposium June 3-4

Axelson Symposium Speaker
The annual Axelson Symposium in downtown Chicago is a significant networking and learning event for leaders of nonprofit organizations.

University symposium key learning, networking event for nonprofit leaders

CHICAGO (May 14, 2013) – As many as 550 nonprofit leaders are expected to attend the 14th Annual Axelson Center Symposium for Nonprofit Professionals and Volunteers, June 3-4 in Chicago. The event is a growing and significant annual networking and professional development conference for nonprofit leaders in Chicago and the Midwest. This year's theme is "The Engagement Effect."

North Park University's Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management is hosting the symposium at the Holiday Inn, Chicago Mart Plaza. The center provides resources and learning opportunities to enhance the performance and effectiveness of individuals and organizations in the nonprofit sector through education, service, and resources. A "Pre-Conference Revenue Institute" is planned for June 3, followed by the symposium the next day.

The conference theme relates directly to constituent groups that nonprofit organizations work with regularly. "This includes policymakers, donors, the boards, the staffs, and other volunteers," said Dr. Pier Rogers, director of the Axelson Center. "All of these groups need to be cultivated to strengthen relationships." Participants will be able to choose workshop sessions arranged in categories by constituent groups, she said.

One of the two-day event's primary strengths is the variety of organizational perspectives and experiences that are represented in a diverse lineup of speakers. Another strength is the idea-sharing and conversation that takes place throughout the day, said Christa Beall Diefenbach, associate director of the Axelson Center. "Networking is an appeal of this event, and people come here because of it," she said. "Attendees make connections that will benefit their organizations for years to come."

The June 3 Revenue Institute is focused on trends and strategies related to revenue streams. Speakers are Dr. Elizabeth Trocolli Boris, director, Center on Nonprofits and Philanthrophy, the Urban Institute, and Steven D. Zimmerman, principal, Spectrum Nonprofit Services. In addition, panelists from Chicago-area nonprofits will address alternative revenue streams and changes in foundations in separate sessions.

The symposium's opening keynote address, "Founders Fired Up" will feature leaders of local nonprofits. "Six founding executive directors are going to talk about the ideas they had to start their nonprofits," Rogers said. "They'll discuss the strategies they used to build momentum, and the extent to which it is important to keep that community engaged." The six are Jenna Benn, Twist Out Cancer; Malik Gillani, Silk Road Rising; Jonny Imerman, Imerman Angels, and also a "CNN Hero;" Lisa Nigro, Inspiration Corporation; Reveca Torres, Backbones; and Jeremy Weisbach, Jimmy Insulin.

Following the keynote, symposium participants will attend concurrent workshops and forums led by nearly 50 experts. Subjects include board engagement, communication, fundraising, staffing and volunteers, engaging young leaders, management strategies, strategic partnerships, and government funding. At the symposium's conclusion, Shirley Sagawa, co-founder, Sagawa/Jospin Consulting Firm, will address "The Charismatic Organization." Some organizations believe a charismatic individual is needed to lead an organization to be successful, Rogers explained. "She really believes the notion that charisma can be infused into the organization itself," Rogers said. 

At the June 4 symposium luncheon program, the Alford-Axelson Award for Nonprofit Managerial Excellence will be presented to two nonprofit organizations that embody exemplary management practices. This year, there were a record 55 nominations. The Axelson Center Excellent Emerging Organization Award will be presented to one young organization with potential for growth and greater effectiveness. Twelve organizations were nominated.

The late Jimmie Alford, a North Park alumnus who died unexpectedly last December at his Chicago home, will be honored at the luncheon. For 50 years, he devoted his life to the betterment of nonprofit organizations throughout the United States. Alford was founder and chair of the Alford Group, and executive-in-residence at the North Park University School of Business and Nonprofit Management (SBNM), where he taught graduate courses and workshops.

Use @npunews to follow North Park University News on Twitter. For further information or resources, contact John Brooks, Director of Media Relations and News, via email or at (773) 244-5522. Learn more about North Park University.

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