The AHMI crew
After a long day at the conference
American Humanics is an organization whose mission is to encourage better-prepared Non-Profit leaders. The Independent sector has built a lot of momentum in the last thirty or so years and is just now reaching the point where it has enough credibility that people in the field are taken seriously and not simply as bleeding hearts and do-gooders who don’t know how to function in business or within the government. The field now requires a workforce that is trained and ready to take advantage of this momentum to make philanthropy more effective while keeping it grounded in its most basic purpose of social change.
The American Humanics Management Institute, oh so professionally referred to as AHMI (ah-me) is a three day conference hosted by the organization that brings students and Non-Profits together to work out the kinks that the last decades of non-profits are working on perfecting.
The conference was actually quite fun. It was a very different feel from the Model United Nations conference I participated in about 4 years ago- a very different crowd. MUN was poli-sci go-getters who love suits and schmoozing. AHMI, on the other hand, was made up of the more homely do-gooders who just want to make a difference. Not hippies necessarily, but the kind of person you picture staffing a summer camp. Good people, fun people. There was not quite as much inter-university mingling or site-seeing as there was at MUN, but then again, that was in New York and this was in Indianapolis- the most average city in America.
A great thing about the non-profit world is that is houses SO many different kinds of interests. There were many at the conference who were all about youth agencies. Others, environmental causes. Me, international development. I see the difficulty for the hosting organization to appeal to the interests of such a variety of attendees but when it come down to it, regardless of what the missions of various organizations are, they are fundamentally the same. Just like most businesses fall under similar business models, so too can non-profits be grouped together by administrative function.The highlights of the conference to me were a handful of very capable, very experienced non-profit professionals. Dave Sternberg, VP of Achieve Guidance (a NP consulting firm) , gave a frank intro into best practices of non-profits. Robert Egger, Monday's keynote speaker, is a total hippie still living the dream he smoked up in the 70's about changing the world one person at a time. He gave a raw perspective that helped remind me that regardless of your business savvy, passion can carry you far. Jim Morris was just the opposite. He served as President of the World Food Programme (but now owns the Indiana Pacers) and had a very information-driven perspective. I realized from his address that food aid is a band-aid. A necessary part of development, but not one that I really want to spent my time with. There were many other great keynote speakers and workshop presenters. Some amazed me with their experience and others were just okay.