Across the United States, women gathered…to their individual computer screens. This year’s National Leadership Training Conference (NLTC) was a little different than most. Instead of spending a weekend under the LA sun, we convened on Zoom, each of us experiencing the sun (and storms) of other cities. Although it steered many of our conversations, COVID couldn’t stop us from connecting with other WYSE branch leaders, sharing ideas, setting goals for the new program year, and developing strategies for leadership and overall branch efficacy.
To encourage engagement throughout the weekend between directors of all branches, we hosted a fun social media challenge - use #WYSENLTC2020 on Instagram and Twitter, and on Sunday we’ll raffle off WYSE swag! So many fun tags and behind-the-scenes moments were featured, especially with the creative Bingo card.
What Is the National Leadership Training Conference?
A proud tradition, the National Leadership Training Conference (NLTC) is an annual conference bringing together directors from each branch and the National Board of Directors. The weekend is organized by the National Board and is one of the training resources the National Board provides for new and incoming directors. Extra special this year - the very first Alumni Committee joined in organizing and facilitating the programs and since virtual gathering allowed for more space, NLTC was opened to other directors who usually don’t have the opportunity. The most valuable takeaway from any NLTC is the connections directors make with other branches that will last throughout the year, and hopefully for a lifetime.
So, what happened this year at NLTC?
Friday, July 10th
Since we couldn’t convene together, this weekend missed the opportunities for those sweet in-person initial greetings, bonding opportunities, and even welcome hugs! However, that spirited energy to kick off a productive weekend certainly still existed! A brief, hour-long social Zoom session was jam packed with conversations and activities to make it feel as if we were actually sipping wine and snacking together. After some introductions and mingling among this intimate group of Board members, Alumni Committee members, alumni, and current mentors. We had fun with a trivia game and tested our knowledge on WYSE hertory, including an old game called Condom Destroyer! All in all, a fun, light way to kick off a fabulous, productive weekend.
Saturday, July 11
A discussion on HerStory and 10 beautiful branch introductions gave us a taste of everyone’s background before we dive into business. After addressing the time of COVID, Melissa led us through an inspiring leadership session where we got in touch with our inner selves, learning what type of leader we are – lions and otters and golden retrievers and beavers, oh my! Next, Amanda Diaz from Tulane presented on Diversity, Inclusion, and Cultural Sensitivity. Hearing how her branch practices anti-racism was a great way to address how WYSE and each of us can do more anti-racist work. Not only is it a lesson necessary to implement at all times, but it was also crucial during this current call to action. We continued this conversation of specifically applying themes of anti-racism into mentoring dynamics with our panel of guest speakers. Nickie Acero from Step Up, Jaylene Chung from Young Storytellers, and Aisha Al-Amin and Reagan Jackson from Y-We discussed the topic of Representation, Equity, and Belonging in Mentorship Programs. Hearing them interact and share their experiences offered us informative ways to progress and instill best practices. Our day ended by meeting with our “zoommates,” reflecting on everything we heard. Though our day was sprinkled with breaks to fight zoom fatigue, we finally could shut our computer screens and rest up before another full day.
Sunday, July 12
Sunday kicked off with branch presentations. Erin Cook from Marquette spoke to us on Cohesion between Directors and Mentors (shout out to the fun activity of Dip Paradise) while Meredith Steinberg from UCLA discussed New Mentor, Race, and LGBTQ+ Allyship Trainings. Then we divided up into our signature Roundtables, digging in to specific topics such as Mentee Recruitment and Retention, Finance and Fundraising, Mental Health, Running a Cohesive Director Team, Relationship with Middle School, University, & Partners, Virtual Engagement with Mentors and Mentees, Mentor Recruitment, Training, and Retention, and Yoga and Movement Break. Then we reconvened for guest speaker Jathusha Mahenthirarajan who spoke on Youth Engagement and Community Action. She totally inspired us on how we continue to empower our mentors. This motivation brought us to our branch planning to kick off some creativity. Finally, we reached our conclusion with our customary closing circle and though we missed the hand-holding, we were still grateful for the work we accomplished this weekend.
We are thankful for each and every individual who participated, spoke, and contributed throughout the weekend, easing the difficulty of distance, and ultimately helping us better shape WYSE for the new year! NLTC
Check out our Instagram Stories for more photos from NLTC weekend!
Contribute to WYSE Today
While there's still a lot to do before the WYSE program year starts, NLTC is an important transition period for incoming branch directors to engage with the WYSE National Network and prep for a successful year ahead. As a volunteer-run organization, NLTC is possible because of generous donations from our WYSE family all across the country.
Help us keep this tradition alive by donating today. ♡ You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to volunteer for NLTC or stay up to date on future WYSE Women Mix & Mingles!