Tell us about yourself.
My name is Eleanor Sharp, Senior Program Manager for Nonprofit Learning Point for the Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence. I have 10 years of experience in adult education as a teacher, curriculum specialist, and program designer. Just before joining the Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence in late January of this year, I was administrative faculty at VCU in the Office of Continuing and Professional Education, during which time I earned my Master of Education in Adult Learning. My real start in adult education came when I was an English Language teacher overseas in Malta and Russia.
What is the focus of your work and the need you are addressing?
Almost everything I do, professional and even personal volunteer work, is about educating the whole person and creating avenues of exposure for growth and development. At NLP, we address the needs of nonprofit professionals by hosting creative programming in leadership development and nonprofit management; over 70 classes a year, the 8-month Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program, coaching, OnSite programming, workshops, organizational partnerships, and a Conference.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
People! People! People! What amazing industrious interesting people that I get to meet at NLP! I don’t know that anything is more rewarding as a teacher or program specialist than seeing someone get a promotion because you helped them receive training that led to a professional certification or endorsement….or when you have someone tell you that their mindset has changed and they feel more confident and effective as a leader/colleague/contributor/creator because of their experiences in your programming. Seeing how people grow and do amazing things is really what keeps me going and wanting to always provide even better and even more supportive programs.
What are some major challenges you have faced and how you handled them?
Well, I’m right at the 6 month mark in this position so many of my challenges have been around learning all the parts of a new job! It’s also my first real foray into a 501c3, outside of a volunteer role. And let me tell you, after six years at VCU, it’s pretty different! I handle the challenges of working in a new organization (and all the system differences that come with that) by really relying on my colleagues and doing as much reading and research as possible. I try to meet in person with as many NLP stakeholders as I can to learn from them as well, like our committee members and instructors.
Keeping my eyes and ears open has been the best way to problem solve any issue. The benefit of working as an active part of a great team is that there are many people to help find the best solutions and you never feel alone.
What’s coming next for your organization that really excites you?
Wow! We’ve been working really hard on some exciting new things! The first is NLP OnSite, where we can take our classroom content and really shape it to fit an organization(s) for more specialized delivery. This helps us live out our mission of providing accessible services to those people or organizations that have a hard time fitting our regularly scheduled classes into their schedule.
And… drum roll please… we will be announcing information for our 2015 conference very soon! I can’t share too much now- but definitely keep an eye out! It’s really exciting stuff! We have also planned some scheduling and registration changes for 2016 to better support our students and certificate seekers in our classes. Start looking on the website in October for those updates!
How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission?
How aren’t we?! I don’t know what NLP would do without ConnectVA! We post all of our classes and events on the ConnectVA site, we use the community conversations forum to make announcements and stay abreast of important topics, and we also refer students and organizations there for support when we don’t have the resources they need. Oh, and, I found my job there!
Anything else you would like to share?
I think I’d like to take a moment and say thank you to all of our staff, volunteers, instructors, and coaches! Without the hard work of my amazing teammate at NLP, Laura Pilati, and our committee members, advisory board members, and all the professionals that serve as instructors and coaches, our classes and meetings would not be as dynamic as they are. Every single one of them does an amazing job! I’d also like to thank all of my colleagues at the Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence- so to all the staff in Organizational Solutions, HandsOn Greater Richmond, ConnectVA and Operations- THANK YOU! It’s been a great first 6 months!