Demystifying the Nonprofit Sector for Students

Bowdoin held a symposium Friday, “Profiting from Nonprofit,” treating students to a lunchtime gathering of professionals working in the nonprofit sector.

The four-hour symposium, funded by the Preston Public Interest Career Fund and coordinated through Bowdoin Career Planning, aimed to demystify the nonprofit sector for students and dispel a myth that nonprofit jobs don’t pay decent wages. Of the 100 people attending, 76 were students interested in nonprofit and social justice careers, eight were faculty and staff, and 18 were nonprofit professionals, including many former Bowdoin students.

Keynote speaker Shenna Bellows, executive director of Maine’s American Civil Liberties Union chapter, gave a talk, “Make a Living Making a Difference: The Lasting Impact of Nonprofit Work.” She described her path toward her current job, offered career tips and spoke about the rewards of her work. “I’m really interested in the idea of power and how we influence the structures of power we’re in,” she said, adding that working for a nonprofit gives her power to wield influence and make change, particularly by bringing people together and forming coalitions.

Following Bellow’s talk and a round-robin discussion among students and representatives from participating organizations, a panel of nonprofit leaders spoke about funding models and revenue-generating strategies. The panelists were Lauren Dietlin, chief operating officer of Maine Women’s Fund; Sean Sullivan ’08, director of Portland Greendrinks; Peter Taylor, vice-president of program development and grantmaking services for the Maine Community Foundation; and Eleanor Kinney of No Small Potatoes Investment Club, Slow Money Maine.

The following alumni also attended the symposium: Kaitlin Hammersley ’08, intern/trainee placement coordinator, CIEE; Sean Mahoney ’86, vice president and director of Maine Advocacy Center, Conservation Law Foundation; Brian Marcaurelle ’01, program director, Maine Island Trail Association; Andrew Marshall ’94, educational programs director, Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association; Lara Seaver ’00, sponsorship online outreach specialist, Reverb; Mark Swann ’84, executive director, Preble Street; Rachel Turkel ’11, program manager, Unite for Sight; Samantha Waxman ’10, program fellow, StreetWise Partners; Brooks Winner ’10, community energy associate, Island Institute; and Ian Yaffe ’09, executive director, Mano en Mano.