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2022 Hybrid Volunteer Engagement Leadership Conference Sessions

June 8, 9 & 10, 2022

9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (Central Time)

MAVA is excited to present the following workshops at our conference. Participants will select from four live workshops offered during each timeframe.
Conference sessions are subject to change.

Am I Making the Right Choice? The Role of Ethics as Leaders of Volunteers
Faiza Venzant
We all face sticky situations involving volunteers where "the right thing to do" is not obvious. This session will provide participants with an overview of ethical core values and principles which apply to volunteer engagement.  We'll also review a decision-making process for navigating real-life ethical dilemmas on the job, as well as tips on how to incorporate ethics into the fabric of your organization. Content is based on the "Professional Ethics in Volunteer Administration" material developed by the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration.

Are We Bridgers? Exploring Our Sector’s Role in Social Change
Ellen Ray, Rosie Drumgoole

According to the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer report, 64 percent of us report that Americans are incapable right now of having constructive and civil debates about issues we disagree on. As organizations committed to service and community, what is our role in bridging this divide? In this agitational session, we will contend that service can --and must-- help us meet this moment and that there is an important role for organizations like ours to play in social change. Service organizations must find ways to step into the "bridger" space. Let's create a community of volunteer organizations committed to becoming "bridgers."

Bridging the Breakdowns Between Staff and Volunteers
Betsy McFarland

Staff and volunteers alike are passionate and committed to the causes to which they dedicate their time and energy. Community support work is wonderful and challenging, heartwarming and heartbreaking, and by its very nature, full of complexity and conflict. Coupled with a frequent lack of clarity of roles and ineffective communication, tension and overall discord between staff and volunteers can become entrenched, hindering your organization's ability to achieve its mission. In this interactive session, we will examine the possible root causes for staff-volunteer tension and explore strategies for reducing conflict and increasing collaboration. You will leave this session with practical tools for bringing your staff and volunteers together as a cohesive team.  

Collaboration: A Key Strategy for Successful Community Engagement
Dana Litwin, Karen Reid

Prioritizing collaboration can help you take your teams from good to great, but it’s not always easy when your volunteers are remote or hybrid and staff is overwhelmed. Join experts from the National Alliance for Volunteer Engagement and discover the benefits of collaboration between organizations, teams and individuals within your agency. During this interactive session, we’ll share successful models of collaboration and explore techniques and tools for building robust teams and strengthening working relationships with new community partners and colleagues.

Communication Strategies for Cultivating Vibrant Volunteer Teams
Karen Reid

Drive up engagement, performance and motivation when you proactively communicate to your teams! During this interactive session, we'll explore best practices and essential elements of communication for engaging remote and in-person teams, learn how to communicate throughout the volunteer lifecycle and share techniques to help you cultivate cohesive, collaborative volunteer teams. You'll come away with tips for communicating change, scaling your comms to fit your needs and fostering feedback.

Creating Bold, Shared Ownership for DEI Efforts
Naaima Khan

For busy volunteer managers who juggle multiple responsibilities and wear many hats, it’s important to have the time, knowledge and experience of digging into questions of DEI meaningfully. A critical part of gaining the skills needed to implement DEI effectively is learning to evaluate DEI efforts within your department. In this session, we will focus on creating bold, shared ownership for DEI, by providing volunteer managers with a basic framework of what it means to measure DEI efforts and beginning to apply the framework in mini groups.

Creating Transformative Volunteer Experiences for Corporate Partners
Brian Rosenbaum

Engaging episodic, corporate volunteers in ways that challenge and inspire their heads, hands and hearts can engage them in ways that are transformative for the individual, your organization's relationship with the company and our communities. Join this session to learn about strategies to plan, resource and execute projects that engage corporate volunteers in ways that build and deepen their relationship with the organization, generate revenue and drive impact.

Culturally Responsive Practices When Working with Multicultural Volunteers
Yixiu Chen

In this workshop, we will discuss ways to promote social equity through Culturally Responsive Practices (CRP) in the workplace. This session will provide strategies for working with volunteers with multicultural backgrounds. Some concepts that will be touched upon in this session include:  socialization, implicit bias, Funds of Knowledge, institutionalized racism, cultural archetypes and microaggressions. Furthermore, we will define and share ways to implement CRP through the development of critical self-awareness. The presenter will draw upon her personal and professional experiences as an Asian American and immigrant/refugee family background, as well as having worked with diverse, multicultural communities in the public and non-profit sectors.

Designing Volunteer Positions
Terry Straub

The design of volunteer positions affects ease of volunteer recruitment, volunteer satisfaction and success of the volunteer program. This module focuses on how to design volunteer positions that will draw volunteers to your organization and create a well-organized volunteer program structure. "Designing Volunteer Positions" is a part of MAVA’s Volunteer Impact Leadership Training Series. Attend the full virtual series and earn your Certificate in Volunteer Impact Leadership! Register at

Effective Faith-Based Volunteer Engagement
Maureen Bourgeois

What draws people to faith-based volunteer opportunities and what motivates them to continue giving their time? In this conference session, we will discuss how volunteer engagement professionals effectively recruit, motivate and recognize volunteers in their faith communities in an ever-changing environment.

Engaging Your Supporters: Building An Experience
Cairn Reisch

What words do you want people to use when describing your organization? What about their specific volunteer role?  In this session, we will discuss how you can build experiences into volunteerism, taking the standard volunteer job description into the 21st century. We constantly ask for feedback from our volunteers, but what would we do if we started from scratch? What if we started with outcomes first?  You will leave this session with the confidence and tools to better engage the supporters of your organization from episodic, informal, traditional to even corporate volunteers.

Moving from White Saviorism to Allyship
Niila Hebert

This workshop reveals the history of volunteerism and its roots in white supremist culture and how those values have translated to how many of us think of serving historically impoverished communities and people. Adopted by MAVA's research on the 8 Strategies for Creating a More Inclusive Volunteer Program (2018), this workshop uncovers the concept of the white savior complex and it's harmful impacts within the field of volunteerism. Participants of this workshop will learn the historical implications of white saviorism and how to transform those behaviors to being an ally and advocate for a more equitable and inclusive volunteer experience

Neurodiversity in Volunteerism
Sarah Philippe

Neurodiverse people are constantly navigating a society that frowns upon mental health. This makes it difficult for them to lead independent lives and have fulfilling careers. However, this does not mean that they do not have anything to bring to the conversation.  In this session, we will address how volunteer managers can make their programs accessible and supportive to neurodiverse volunteers, as well as, how to write, post, and market positions that are inclusive and how to get staff and leaders on board.

Open Space Conversation One: Is There a Volunteer Shortage?

Karmit Bulman
The COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges for volunteerism. Recruitment is top of mind for volunteer engagement leaders; some even claim there are volunteer shortages. We will brainstorm  topics under the volunteer shortage theme. You can stay in one group or rotate as you and your colleagues explore new ways to recruit and rebuild. Written notes will be shared with all participants.

Open Space Conversation Two : Managing Up, Down and Across as A Volunteer Engagement Leader
Karmit Bulman

Managing up, down and across are skills you must juggle every day to benefit your organization and career. We will brainstorm topics under the theme of managing up, down and across.  You can stay in one group or rotate as you and your colleagues explore new ways to lead from the middle. Written notes will be shared with all participants.

Planning a Volunteer Program from Top to Bottom
Beth Steinhorn

Are you considering starting a volunteer program or expanding the program your organization already has? Planning is the key to developing a program that is sustainable and impactful. This session will demystify the planning process through five key steps to planning a volunteer program, including the why, how, who, what and when of engaging volunteers. Planning is what can transform your program into a strategy, and it can convert your organization's volunteer involvement into impact.

Professional Development and Program Recognition
Marcia Hale, Tara Waters

Leading a volunteer program in local government? We understand the unique opportunities and challenges this role presents. Join representatives from NAVPLG's Awards Program and Education Program to learn how to shine a spotlight on your successful projects, improve existing practices and move through challenges with this supportive community. This session will have relevant information for most leaders of volunteer engagement, however, it should have special appeal for those working in libraries, parks and recreation, senior services, police and animal welfare.

Reckoning with the Shadow Side of Volunteerism
Sue Carter Kahl

Volunteerism is seen as a positive activity that's good for volunteers, agencies, corporate partners and the community at large. Yet, there's a shadow side of service we don't talk about in polite company (or volunteer conferences). Volunteers with a savior complex, agencies that think volunteers are a nuisance and corporate groups that serve for the photo op. How do we reckon with the less savory parts of volunteering? This session draws on adaptive leadership lessons to shine light into the shadows. Participants will gain strategies to address volunteerism's shortcomings and courage to apply this work at their agencies.

Recruiting and Engaging Millennials for Volunteer Service
Ken Culp

Times change, society evolves, generations turn, way of life is redefined, priorities shift. Volunteer-driven organizations, therefore, must keep pace with ever-changing expectations and interests of community members and volunteers. Expectations of communities, historic districts, organizations and people are drastically different compared to the turn of the century. Millennials expect organizations and their programs to be cleaner, greener, skill-based, outcome-oriented, schedule-friendly, flexible and efficient. This workshop will focus on ten ways that Millennials are markedly different and will identify strategies that volunteer administrators can implement to adjust to these changing expectations to expand their volunteer program and engage this generation.

Reengaging Volunteers During a Pandemic: New Ways and Time-Tested Truths
Dana Litwin

This session offers data-driven solutions, lessons learned 2020-21 and core truths to effectively transition your organization from pandemic-reactive mode into a more resilient future. Participants will understand how their volunteer activities fit with the bigger picture of community recovery (and continuing struggle) with COVID-19, the impact of new paradigms on all aspects of community engagement (not only volunteers) and how to use re-engaging volunteers as a change opportunity. This presentation shares successful models of adaptive planning utilizing amalgamated data and socialized outcome measurements leading to more integrated communities, programs, technologies and operations that reinforce revenue for volunteer programs. 

Building Community: Stories from Greater Minnesota
Holly Daniels

What does community-building have to do with volunteerism? In small towns and rural areas, successful volunteer engagement depends on building relationships and empowering our neighbors to see that their gifts are essential. This breakout session will feature Pat Branstad, who will share her story of building friendships across cultures in St. James. Karl Samp from Brainerd will share about asset-based community development and how everyone in the community has something to offer.

The Importance of Emotional Resiliency In Volunteerism
Lisa Orloff

Traumatic events have the power to overwhelm normal coping abilities of individuals and groups. Emotionally charged, high stress volunteer work can have a negative impact on individuals if they are not aware of the risks or coping skills.  Resiliency training can reduce the impact that disasters, disaster work and caregiving has on those that seek to help. During the session attendees will understand the emotional risks related to disaster work and its impact on their team, recognize the signs and symptoms of disaster work related stress in their team and learn techniques to increase their ability to build and maintain emotional resiliency in disaster response.

Transforming Disruption to Impact: Writing Your Story of Impactful Innovations
Beth Steinhorn, Niila Hebert, Brittany McGarry

As disruptions unfolded in recent years, organizations faced a choice: innovate how they engage volunteers or risk their ability to fulfill mission. Innovators leveraged disruption as a release from traditional practices and forged new paths to impact. Hear stories of leaders who transformed disruption to impact. Then gather by interest (e.g., corporate engagement, informal volunteerism, technology, funder support,) and learn with others who share similar challenges. Leave with tools to weave your story of transforming disruption into impact and share it with others so that your organization is sustained regardless of what the future brings.

Universal Design for Volunteering
Emily Fox-Penner

You might have heard about universal design in the context of architecture or education as a way to make an environment or learning experience inclusive of all. This session explores how universal design principles can help make volunteer experiences more inclusive too. Join us to learn how to anticipate and reduce barriers for volunteers with disabilities and enable your whole community to participate in your volunteering program.  

Volunteer Engagement Through AmeriCorps Service
Jonathan Grinde

Join the MAVA AmeriCorps VISTA cohort for a presentation on identifying the need for a volunteer within organizations, onboarding and orienting volunteers and managing and appreciating volunteers. This session is a collaborative effort encapsulating work and experiences from VISTAs placed at several different non-profit organizations throughout the metro area in Minnesota.

Volunteerism in a Shifting Environment: What Do We Know? Where Do We Go From Here?
Polly Roach

Join us to discuss the impact of changing social, economic and community conditions on volunteerism in Minnesota and beyond. We'll use findings from MAVA's 2021 Shifting Environment Survey as a jumping off point to talk about emerging trends in our field that have been shaped by fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, reckoning with racial inequities and shifting work/life boundaries, while also looking at how pre-pandemic volunteer engagement patterns are evolving in this new landscape. This is an interactive session, drawing on participants' insights to add context to MAVA's research and explore ways to survive--and thrive--amidst change.

Volunteers and Donors: Making the Connection
Sheri Wilensky Burke

Organizations frequently treat those who donate time differently than those who donate money. We often think that volunteers are giving of themselves so how can we ask them to give money and vice versa. Development and Volunteer Engagement should be working collaboratively but more often they operate in siloes. Explore why collaboration between these areas is essential to organization success and how partnering can assure that all donors are fully engaged as mission advocates. Participants will identify the key supporters in their organization, brainstorm ways to create greater connection between groups and develop an action plan to get started.

You Are Here: Organizational Structure and Why It Matters to the Future of Our Field
Michele Wiesner

Volunteer engagement doesn't often receive the same level of respect and resources as other aspects of nonprofit management. This session will address how the location of volunteer engagement professionals can change their influence and impact within an organization. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, dedicated team space can signal an organization's commitment to volunteers and the professional(s) leading them. During this session, we will review the speaker's experience carving out a new department, how volunteer engagement professionals can advocate for themselves and their programs and how this impacts the field of volunteer engagement at large.