This was my first time visiting New Orleans and it did not disappoint! I loved the culture, the food, the music and the AFP conference was an amazing educational experience as well. I’ve loved my time in Humanics at Fresno State and this was the perfect way to end the year. Whether it was the team bonding time, information from a breakout session, or the amazing public narrative by keynote speaker Bryan Stevenson, my time in NOLA was an amazing educational experience and I can’t wait to go back!

I’ve been to a few AFP luncheons before, but this was my first AFP professional conference. We started each day by catching a trolley to the convention center and proceeded to choose from various breakout sessions. The breakout sessions I attended were focused on leadership skills and building authentic organizations. One of my favorite sessions encouraged CBO’s to have “moral values, not moral high ground”. The panel did an excellent job putting the focus on impact not expense and reminded me that good leadership starts with an emotional awareness of yourself. Another amazing session was presented by Kishshana Palmer, titled “Nature vs. Nurture- are Great Leaders Born or Made?”. Kishshana was practical, motivational and inspirational to say the least.  She focused on transformational leadership and challenged us to think of leadership as a learning cycle that doesn’t stop. She shared personal stories of success and failure and did an amazing job getting the message across that transformational leaders personally get filled up before they pour out. One other session that stood out to me was on building authentic organizations. The speakers focused on what it takes to build healthy relationships between donors, participants and board members, and advised organizations to set clear goals that align with their particular mission. While this wasn’t new information to me, it did affirm that Humanics is doing an amazing job at building and reinforcing authenticity within our community.

One of the other highlights of the conference was the main speaker Bryan Stevenson. Bryan a social justice activist, lawyer and amazing story teller. He finished of the conference by sharing his public narrative which was incredibly transparent and moving. His call to action was to fight for injustice which consisted of a four-part challenge too: stay proximate to the issues of the hurting, change the narrative, stay hopeful, and to get uncomfortable. His first step to fight against injustice was to stay close and proximate to the situation. He shared how it’s easier to stand back and have an opinion in things rather than to dive in and actually help solve an issue. Next, he recognized and called out the ideological issues that our country has and challenged us to be make plans to change the existing narrative of injustice. Overall Bryan was one of the most impactful speakers that I have heard in a long time. His message was filled with story after story of personal trial and success and he even had me in tears at the end of his speech.

The AFP conference was truly an amazing educational and professional experience and I’m incredibly thankful to have traveled with my peers and professors. The sessions, the speakers and culture of NOLA all hold impactful memories that I won’t forget. Although my time with Humanics is over, I’m looking forward to taking all that I’ve learned to help lead and enrich my community!