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Emerging leaders work to grow future of Central Florida nonprofits

Greg Fornadel, founder of the Orlando Young Professionals Collective, stands for a portrait in front of 90.7 WMFE News.
Talia Blake
90.7 WMFE News
Greg Fornadel, founder of the Orlando Young Professionals Collective, stands for a portrait in front of 90.7 WMFE News.

Young Professionals Joint Summit & Collective

The Orlando Young Professionals Collective is bringing together Central Florida changemakers to make a bigger impact on the community. The group gathered at Second Harvest Food Bank for the Young Professionals Joint Summit on January 22.

Eleven different young professional groups representing nonprofit organizations were gathered under one roof to figure out how they can better work together, according to Greg Fornadel, founder of the Collective.

“If one group is doing an event one day, we want to make sure that nobody else is doing that so that we can all go support them as well. It’s really that cross support that we noticed, and how do we build on that.”

Fornadel said the Collective’s demographic are individuals from 20 to 40 years old that are part of a young professionals group in Orlando.

However, Fornadel said the age range shouldn’t stop someone close to 40 from getting involved because he said many are ditching the term ‘young professionals’ for ‘emerging leaders’.

“It's emerging leaders. It's as long as you want to be part of it, and the great part about that is then it branches out. People are leaving the young professionals committees, and joining the board of directors for that organization. So it's a great natural stepping stone for their next part of that process.”

Fornadel adds that some emerging leaders are older in age but young in their profession.

“There has been a shift the past few years as well. Some people have had to restart their careers. So you have people who may be in their mid 40s or early 50s, who are young and hungry in the career that they're in and to be able to learn from them and their experiences is important.”

The Ups & Downs

Recruitment can be difficult, said Fornadel, as many think of the financial commitment.

“The biggest thing is letting our friends and colleagues, who are around our age group, know that it's not just the money that you donate, it’s your time that's important as well. Instead of fundraising, it's friend-raising.”

The average age of a donor in the U.S. is 65, according to the Blackbaud Institute.

Fornadel said that’s a problem and reinforces the importance of getting young people involved.

“At some point that's going to cap out. You need the new generation to come in. It sounds cliche, but we are that generation. It's our time now.”

Bankrate reports that 35% of Americans would “borrow to pay a $1,000 unexpected expense, either by financing with a credit card and paying it off over time, taking a personal loan or turning to friends or family.”

“To go out and say, it's not just the dollars, can you come out and give three hours of your time? That's big,” said Fornadel.

For those already a part of a young professionals group, Fornadel said, “the big roadblock has been able to get the young professional groups to get the respect and the attention so that we can go out and do what we need to do on behalf of the organization.”

Also, he said part of that is earning the trust of the organization that is being represented.

In addition, Fornadel stressed the importance of companies giving their employers time to take part in these groups.

“By giving your employee a few hours a month to go make a difference, it’s actually bettering you as a company because they bring that back to their HR department. When they're interviewing folks to be employed there, they say, ‘this is what we do for the community.’

Fornadel said that’s a great recruiting and retention tool.

“Everybody wants to work for a company that cares about the community, and the best way to do that is let your employees go out and care on your behalf.”

Staying Connected & Getting Involved

Young professionals staying connected and working together in Orlando is what Fornadel hopes the Collective can do in 2024.

Fornadel said they plan to team up on projects throughout the city.

“Some of the groups have five or 10 people, some have over 100. If we do these big projects in the community and they’re looking for 150 volunteers, now we have that pool to pull from. We can now do that within our organization. We're stronger together than we are separate.”

For young professionals looking to get involved with the Collective, Fornadel said the first step is to find an organization that aligns with your passion.

“If you're passionate about the mission, you will find your home there pretty quickly.”

After a brief stint as Morning Edition Producer at The Public’s Radio in Rhode Island, Talia Blake returned to Central Florida Public Media. She is a graduate of the University of Central Florida with degrees in both Broadcast Journalism and Psychology. While at UCF, she was an intern for Central Florida’s public affairs show, Intersection. She joined on as Morning Edition Host in 2019. In 2022, Ms. Blake was appointed to the Florida Association of Broadcast Journalist’s board of directors.
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