I Wanna Get Paid for This! 7 Step Plan Toward a Nonprofit Career

This past weekend I presented at the Minnesota OUT! Campus Conference. I have close ties to the Minnesota GLBTA Campus Alliance, the group that hosts the conference and many of the organizers were asking me about how I got involved with nonprofits and if I’d be willing to present to college and high school students about how to get engaged in the sector.

I hesitated at first, but the more I reflected on my process I realized that there were seven distinct steps I used in my process in getting engaged in the nonprofit sector.

Here they are:

1) Knowing You

What issues or topics get you most excited? What social issues are you most passionate about? When you think about solving those social problems, what kind of solutions get you so excited the hair on the back of your neck stands on end?

2) Campus Matters

What activities do I participate in on campus? How do they link with what I want to do? How do I leverage campus activities to gain experience in the area I want to work in?

3) Know who? : Your existing network

Who do you know that is leading a career in the sector you most admire? Who in your network can offer stories about their success? Who can you get together to ask questions about the field?

4) Knowing who? : Building your network

Who do you want to be in relationship with? Are there people that are leading careers that you admire but don’t necessarily know? Are there presenters, speakers, bloggers you want to have conversations with?

5) Volunteer

Get off campus. Get engaged with a nonprofit that is related to the work that really gets you passionate. The folks in #3 can probably help you find places to plug in. Once you’ve volunteered there for a while, ask for more responsibility to gain the skills you’d like to develop. Volunteer gigs can also help you meet the folks you thought of in #4.

6) Do your homework

This can include reading blogs and books, attending events or research topics relevant to your areas of interest. Doing your homework can also help you build your network and find places to plug into volunteer opportunities and internships.

7) Know Your Hang-ups

What are some of the things that stand in your way? What about this process makes you nervous or holds you back? Make a list of things that you feel may be holding you back, then map out some strategies. Knowing what holds you back can build your confidence.

If this is something a group you work with wants to explore more, send me an email FromOurPerspectiveBlog@gmail.com to schedule a workshop presentation of “I Wanna Get Paid for This! Building your Nonprofit Career”.

In the meantime, here’s a list of places to start with for “Doing Your Homework”

Buy the book, “How to Become a Nonprofit Rockstar: 5o Ways to Accelerate Your career” by Trista Harris and Rosetta Thurman. Click the image to the right and buy the book right now!

Or do some poking around on any of these websites:

Blogs I love:





All things nonprofit in Minnesota:


Places to search for jobs and internships:



Colonization, Liberation and our Queer Bodies

Let me start by saying this, my synopsis of last night’s keynote at the Minnesota OUT! Campus Conference will not even be able to come close to capturing the power with which Coya Artichoker, Lisa Weiner-Mahfuz and Susan Raffo successfully wove together stories of colonization, movement building and a daring vision to liberate our queer bodies.

I sat in the center of the room wide-eyed as I listened to these three incredible women describe their journeys, their histories and how they came to understand how inextricably bound their liberations were, both with one another and with everyone in the room.

To call what these three shared with us last night a keynote would be doing it a disservice. It was story telling, it was movement building. Their story began by reminding us that this land we stand on has a bloodied and painful past. The ground Augsburg College was built on is Lakota and Anishinabe land. Before Minnesota was colonized, before the founding of the United States a whole history and culture was being shaped; since colonization it has been slowly and systematically chipped away at.

These three dared to dream with us about a bold vision for liberation. A bold vision that is rooted in the reality that we live our days on colonized land, a vision that refuses to exclude any body, regardless of how complex it may be.

They dreamed with us about a social justice movement based on universal design where those most marginalized with complex histories set our agendas. They shared that when we center those complex experiences, “all boats rise.” We all stand to benefit when we build a movement based on liberated bodies.

The story challenged us to think about what liberation looks like and how we can transform our LGBT movement into a broader based more inclusive struggle toward justice.

Coya, Lisa and Susan called us to return as a movement to community organizing and base building. We’ve lost sight of what it means to build a vibrant and mobile network of people that stand in solidarity with one another. Instead, we choose to be shortsighted focusing on narrow single-issue politics.

Like I started with, my words and reflections cannot even come near the powerful story telling these three did last night, but if you want to explore their work more, check out these links and join me in pondering these questions:

How can queer folks explore more deeply the implications that colonization has had on our LGBT movement?
In what ways can we create spaces to dream a bold vision for social justice based on collective liberation and interdependence?
How can we move our work back toward organizing and base building?

Lisa’s writing on Bilerico
Susan’s writing Bilerico
Coya’s writing on Bilerico

The 5th annual Minnesota OUT! Campus Conference kicked off last night with a fierce round of introductions that honored the history of the organization and made a clear statement about the organization’s politics of intersectionality.

The evening began with an inspiring welcome from board chair, Scott Anderson. Scott challenged this weekend’s attendees to push themselves not to leave this weekend and return to business as usual, but to use the weekend as a chance to build skills and new networks aimed at broadening our LGBT agenda to one that includes racial and economic justice, immigration and sovereignty as central to our queer work.

Scott described the work of the Minnesota Campus Alliance as, “transforming our state campus by campus throughout Minnesota and helping people to live their full and complete lives.” (The Minnesota Campus Alliance has trained 3,000 people from 50 campuses in three years, across the Midwest.)

He shared the successes of the organization and called for attendees to get involved and become leaders in the organization. Check out the Get Involved information here.

Following the welcome was the Minnesota premiere of the film, “Two Spirits.”

TWO SPIRITS interweaves the tragic story of a mother’s loss of her son with a revealing look at a time when the world wasn’t simply divided into male and female and many Native American cultures held places of honor for people of integrated genders.

Fred Martinez was nádleehí, a male-bodied person with a feminine nature, a special gift according to his ancient Navajo culture. But the place where two discriminations meet is a dangerous place to live, and Fred became one of the youngest hate-crime victims in modern history when he was brutally murdered at sixteen. Between tradition and controversy, sex and spirit, and freedom and fear, lives the truth—the bravest choice you can make is to be yourself.

A post-film Q&A was hosted by Two Spirit activist, Richard LaFortune. LaFortune appears in the film and travels the country telling the story of Fred Martinez and raising awareness of Two Spirit identities.

Richard LaFortune, also known as Anguksuar, or 'Little Man' Photo by Anne Hodson

He shared with the audience the origin of the term Two Spirit, a term that emerged in 1990 as a result of years of conversations and community building across North America. Prior to 1990 the term was not widely used across First Nations communities.

Two-Spirit People (also Two Spirit or Twospirit) — an English term that emerged in 1990 out of the third annual inter-tribal Native American/First Nations gay/lesbian American conference in Winnipeg — describes Indigenous North Americans who fulfill one of many mixed gender roles found traditionally among many Native Americans and Canadian First Nations indigenous groups. The mixed gender roles encompassed by the term historically included wearing the clothing and performing the work associated with both men and women.

A direct translation of the Ojibwe term, Niizh manidoowag, “two-spirited” or “two-spirit” is usually used to indicate a person whose body simultaneously houses a masculine spirit and a feminine spirit. The term can also be used more abstractly, to indicate presence of two contrasting human spirits (such as Warrior and Clan Mother) or two contrasting animal spirits (which, depending on the culture, might be Eagle and Coyote); however, these uses, while descriptive of some aboriginal cultural practices and beliefs, depart somewhat from the 1990 purposes of promoting the term.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two_spirits

There are many terms to describe a spectrum of gender identities across First Nations languages. But, the term Two Spirit has been claimed by a wide variety of First Nations queer folks.

1988 marked the first international gathering of Two Spirit communities and that gathering just so happened to take place in our hometown of Minneapolis. 20 years later, the gathering was held in Minneapolis once again building on the rich history of Two Spirit organizing happening across the continent.

One inquisitive audience member asked LaFortune about Two Spirit individual’s relations within First Nations communities. At one point, he turned to Coya Artichoker. Coya spoke eloquently about her experiences navigating queer communities. She named racism within white queer communities as a larger and more prevalent issue than homophobia in First Nations communities in her life. Coya linked the startlingly high rates of domestic violence against women in native communities with the colonization of first nations peoples. Coya named colonization as a key issue for First Nations peoples to work through in order to reclaim the more free expressions of gender and sexuality that were originally core to native cultures. Coya also spoke to the startlingly high rates of domestic violence against women in native communities and how colonization not only contributed to but is believed to be the impetus of this violence. Stay tuned to FromOurPerspective for more posts, including a recap of the keynote where Coya will be speaking along with Susan Raffo and Lisa Weiner-Mahfuz later tonight!

Scott Anderson, Co-Chair of MN GLBTA Campus Alliance Photo By: Anne Hodson

Welcome! I’m Scott Anderson, chair of the board of the Minnesota GLBTA Campus Alliance.

On behalf of the board, MOCC planning committee and all the volunteers thank you all very much for being here for our 5th annual Minnesota OUT! Campus Conference.

The Minnesota Campus Alliance seeks to create welcoming and inclusive campus communities through education, training, skills building and ally and leadership development. We’re transforming our state, campus by campus, providing communities with reframed definitions of gender and sexuality and tools to end all forms of oppression including sexism, racism, heterosexism, abilism and all other systems that keep us from being our free and complete selves every day.

Annually, MOCC has been one of our largest organizing tools, providing a space for hundreds of campus and community activists to hone their skills and build a statewide network aimed at transforming the experiences of folks living, learning and working at institutions of higher education in our state.

I can hardly believe it was five years ago that a small group of us were brainstorming in the library at Metro State University about what to name this conference and the potential impact this organization could have across the state of Minnesota. And now, look at this. More than 500 attendees, volunteers and presenters from 5 states and 40 different colleges registered for what is certain to be the greatest Minnesota OUT! Campus Conference to date.

Whether you’re a MOCC veteran or a first timer this weekend is sure to inspire you, challenge you and provide you with new skills and new networks to move your campus communities into action around a broad social justice agenda that recognizes racial justice, immigrant rights and economic justice are indeed queer issues.

The Minnesota Campus Alliance is a volunteer run organization and we have been lucky to have phenomenal volunteer leaders take up the challenge of running this organization during the past 5 years. This weekend, as is tradition at MOCC every year, we will seek new board members and new leaders to engage in our critical statewide work. The organization needs a range of skill sets from event planning and logistics to financial management and fundraising to training and facilitation. Please visit the information table or seek out anyone with a board member tag or volunteer tag to have a conversation about getting more involved. Inside your program booklets are board interest forms. Please take some time this weekend to review leadership opportunities with the MN Campus Alliance. As our organization grows it will require new leaders, fresh ideas and a variety of voices, identities and experiences to shape our strategy as we move into the next five years.

No welcome speech would be complete without a series of thank you’s. An innumerable amount of thanks go to Augsburg College and Mike Grewe for hosting us here this weekend. Let’s hear it for Augsburg! The team here at Augsburg has been phenomenal and the success of this weekend will be in no small part attributed to their outstanding work here on campus.

Also, a huge shout out to the MOCC planning committee and MN Campus Alliance board for their hard work, dedication and leadership in making this weekend possible. Thank you to all of our workshop presenters and caucus facilitators your skills and talents are truly reflective of the vibrant diversity of activism represented regionally and nationally.

And I personally want to thank Anne Phibbs for her visionary leadership. It was Anne’s vision that brought people together in 2006 in a basement classroom at the University of Minnesota which lead to the formation of the Minnesota Campus Alliance.

And to our keynotes and featured presenters this weekend, Coya Artichoker, Kenyon Farrow, Richard LaFortune, Susan Raffo and Lisa Weiner-Mahfuz we are humbled to have such incredible movement leaders gathered with us as we reflect on broadening the depth and breadth of our statewide campus work.

Our larger LGBT rights movement hasn’t always created a space where we can explore a truly intersectional, multi-issue agenda but your thoughts, actions and visions have pushed all of us to look more critically at what our movement priorities can be.

This is my call to action to all of us in the room: use this weekend to move beyond business as usual, to embrace the opportunity to shift our movement from a narrow definition of LGBT rights to a movement that centers the experiences of those most marginalized and one that leaves no body behind.

Thank you again for being with us this weekend and please welcome founding members of the Minnesota GLBTA Campus Alliance.

FOP Note: Look for a post this weekend from one of the co-chairs of the 1st MOCC, FOP’s own Alfonso Wenker, about the history of the Minnesota OUT! Campus Conference!

We are excited that FOP will be the official blog of the 2010 Minnesota OUT! Campus Conference.

MOCC is the annual conference of the Minnesota GLBTA Campus Alliance.

MOCC is a conference for all students, staff, faculty, alumni, and community members from around the state of Minnesota and surrounding region to discuss issues facing gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and ally (GLTBA) communities on college and university campuses and in the greater community. Attendees will have an opportunity to network and meet one another; talk about issues and topics that are being faced on campuses and the larger community; and be challenged and learn valuable skills around building coalitions, fostering activism, and developing leadership through a lens of social justice.

Kevin and I were both active with the organization during college and at this year’s conference he and I will be presenting a handful of workshops. We are both excited to debut collaborative projects with our friend Becky Saltzman. Becky and I will present a workshop we’ve developed on effective facilitation tools for cross-cultural leadership. Kevin and Becky will lead a conversation called “Beyond Welcoming Churches: Faith Organizing with non-Christian Identities. Additionally, I will be presenting a workshop called “I Wanna Get Paid for This! Building Toward a Nonprofit Career.”

We have also been asked to tweet the keynote and caucus sessions. You can follow the conversation on Twitter @campusalliance and #MOCC.

The conference has a fierce line-up of keynote speakers, all of whom I consider to be LGBT movement leaders, movers and shakers. The theme of MOCC this year is “Uniting for Justice: A Deeper Look into Race, Economics and Immigration in GLBTQ Communities”. I couldn’t think of a better team of folks to take these issues on in a real and powerful way.

Here’s the line up!

Coya Artichoker is a founding collective member of the 2-Spirit First Nations Collective. They are a Collective that are working towards building a stronger political presence for 2-Spirit folks within the national dialogue of queer rights. The Collective works with four other sister organizations to develop curriculum and training for the Racial and Economic Justice Institute day at the Creating Change Conference of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Coya has recently been featured as one of the “40 under 40” leaders making change in the Advocate magazine. She was also named one of the “20 Most Powerful Lesbians in American Politics” by David Mixner.

Kenyon Farrow has recently taken over as Executive Director of Queers for Economic Justice—an organization dedicated to organizing, research, and advocacy for and with low-income and working-class lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. He has been honored as one of the “Movers and Shakers” in HIV/AIDS Activism in the African-American Community by The Body.com, was named as one of Out Magazine’s Out 100 for 2008, and is in this year’s Advocate Magazine’s “40 Under 40” LGBT Leaders in the United States.

Susan Raffo is particularly drawn to the interconnections of trauma and oppression in both our individual bodies and our collective bodies. As part of this, Susan cofacilitates with Heather Hackman a workshop called, “More than Skin Deep: Uprooting White Supremacy One Cell at a Time” that looks at the deeper implications of white supremacy for white people. Susan is the editor of Queerly Classed: Gay Men and Lesbians Write about Class(South End Press, 1995) and Restricted Access: Lesbians on Disability (with Victoria Brownworth, Seal Press, 1995).

Lisa Weiner-Mahfuz is a co-founder of Intersections/Intersecciones Consulting with Lisbeth Melendez Rivera. From 2005-2010, she served as the director of capacity building for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. As the first staff person to be hired into this role, she actively embedded racial, economc and disability justice work into building stronger movement organizations. Weiner-Mahfuz’s writings can be found in Colonize This! Young Women of Color and Feminism (Seal Press, 2002), Fireweed Magazine’s “Mixed Race Issue” (Issue 75), and through on a Web-based project titled BustingBinaries, which she co-authors with Ana Maurine Lara.

I can’t wait to get tweeting and blogging for this incredible conference! I hope you’ll join me in the online conversation.