By: Micah Jorrisch, Vice President of Development and Communications, Maryhurst

I consider myself to be the type of young leader that is always eager for the next big challenge. To the chagrin of many managers, I have developed a knack for leaving my “lane” and pursuing opportunities to stretch my leadership skills. In 2015, while in a previous role, I hit a professional development wall. My organization was struggling to find me projects to keep me engaged and there were no promotion opportunities on the horizon. I felt stuck.

Fortunately, a mentor within my organization pointed to our involvement with the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, an organization, that at the time, I had never heard of. Through some research, I learned about the Senior Leadership Conference and the Rising Leader Scholarships. The rest, as they say, is history. Little did I know that by receiving a scholarship for the 2016 conference I would be starting a journey that has been shaping my leadership path ever since. 

Here are the top five ways this conference has impacted me as an aspiring leader:

  1. SLC builds my networks: SLC opened my eyes to an entire country full of people just as passionate and driven about the human serving sector as I was. Every SLC that I’ve attended has expanded my network.
  2. SLC challenges my thinking: When I found SLC, I found a new tribe; one that offered peer support, mentorship, and thoughtful dialogue about how I, as an aspiring leader, can make the biggest impact to my community as possible. It’s not only the great speakers and sessions, but conversations at dinner or over a drink. 
  3. SLC gives me a voice: SLC is a forum for many kinds of leaders at varying stages of their journey to share their expertise. In 2016, I was given the opportunity to lead a session on millennial leadership to a room of over 50 executives, most of whom had way more experience than me. This was a major first for me but SLC leadership was super supportive! 
  4. SLC expands my self-confidence: My involvement with SLC and, in particular, receiving the Rising Leader Scholarship, was catalytic in building the confidence to challenge move into a new, expanded leadership role (with another Alliance member!), help establish local networks to enact change, and develop the focus and resilience needed to succeed in our often-difficult world.
  5. SLC refreshes my soul: It can be really easy to get down on ourselves as human serving professionals. Funding uncertainty, unstable federal, and state legislation, and an overbearing news cycle can make the most idealistic of us hide our head in the sand and require us to be constantly vigilant, and sometimes leads to massive burnout. SLC surrounds me with brilliant, successful people who inspire me to keep moving forward, because if not us then who? 

Of course I can’t give all the credit to the SLC and the Alliance, but I cannot think of a more catalytic opportunity like the one I had back in 2015 when I decided to take a chance and apply for a scholarship to attend some conference I had never heard about. If SLC can unlock my leadership potential, just think about what it can do for your aspiring leaders! 

Learn more about the 2019 Senior Leadership Conference and register online.