On The Board and In The Spotlight: Shaylinn Aleman

by Robin Hanson

Name: Shaylinn Aleman
Company: Arizona College Access Network
Job Title: Membership Manager
Board: Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits
Board Title: Apprentice Board Member

How long have you served on this board?
I am in my second year.

What drew you to this organization?
In 2016, I joined a program called the Manifesto Project, which, essentially, pairs a young professional with a nonprofit board as an apprentice for a year. In my current role, I work for a membership organization, which is what the Alliance is, so I felt there was enough in common — which sparked my interest. I wanted to know more about how other membership organizations function.

What would you say is one of the biggest challenges for a young professional serving on a nonprofit board?
For me, my biggest challenge was my time management. I wanted to be a part of every board and board committee meeting, which was not easy to do while maintaining work at my job.

How did you overcome that challenge?
After trying out every committee a couple of times, I narrowed it down to the one I really wanted to be a part of and have stuck with that.

What has been the biggest opportunity from this experience?
One of the biggest opportunities for me has been the ability to develop skills and have experiences that I would not otherwise have had at my job. I have been able to join committees and participate in things that have been incredible. I also have been able to meet some fantastic people and grow my professional network, which is always exciting for someone just starting out in their career.

What do you wish you had known before joining the board?
There is not one thing I wish I had known. The entire experience has been new for me as I have never done anything like this before, so I knew nothing going into this and have learned so much.

What do you feel your greatest accomplishment has been during your time on the board?
My biggest accomplishment is finally having the ability to contribute. When I first started my apprenticeship, I did a lot of soaking up the information, and that was my focus. Now that it has been over a year, I am able to understand everything and have input. I also have joined a board committee, which is also an accomplishment for me.

What would you say to another young professional considering joining a nonprofit board?
It seems to me that there are a lot of young professionals who do not think they are qualified for a board, but that simply is not true. I believe all boards need diversity and different perspectives. I would tell any young professional to find an organization they feel passionate about and do not be afraid of joining their board. I would also tell them do not be afraid of asking questions and voicing thoughts while in meetings. That’s how we learn.

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