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Maine Network Partners Launches Fellows Program

by LK Gagnon

In today’s increasingly connected and complex world, solving social problems requires making the most of available resources through coordinated or aligned efforts. To support the advancement of these efforts, intentional relationship building and maintenance and project management skills are essential. Cultivating this wide-ranging combination of skills takes time and resources.

To build this capacity in the visionaries, designers and coordinators of collective efforts, Maine Network Partners, in partnership with the Maine Association of Nonprofits, launched a yearlong Fellows Program for Network Practitioners in April 2012. The program was designed in conjunction with the Aspen Institute, an international organization that fosters values-based leadership, encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society and provides a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues. The program uses a peer learning approach to help participants achieve effective collective action on the important issues facing Maine communities. This approach believes that these “on the ground” practitioners are themselves the best learners and trainers for this increasingly important way of working.

The first class of Fellows represents seven different state-wide networks with two individuals from each participating. They were selected from over forty known and active networks in the State of Maine addressing a myriad of issues and will work closely together over the coming year. The Fellows include:

-Franklin County Community College Network: Betty Gensel and Glen Kapiloff

-Maine Network of Community Food Councils: Ken Morse and Kirsten Walters

-Alliance for Clean and Healthy Maine: Amanda Sears and Emma Halas-O’Connor

-Foster Care Network/Maine Youth Transition Collaborative: Marty Zanghi and Ahmen Cabral

-Maine Environmental Network: Maureen Drouin and Beth Ahearn

-Maine Woods Discovery: Bryan Wentzell and Kate Williams

-Maine Downtown Center: Roxanne Eflin and Ryan Neale

The program utilizes a learning lab approach to encourage free-ranging idea exchange, peer consultation, open examination of successes and failures and the nurturing of long-lasting relationships.

Why a focused program? Maine Network Partners created the Fellows program to help early adopters of network and coordinated practices create the knowledge base and tools necessary to not only increase the likelihood that the efforts in which they are already involved will succeed but to also begin building a pool of practitioners that can help other collective efforts succeed as well.

Maine Network Partners helps grassroots leaders and nonprofit organizations increase the capacity and impact of collaborations and networks. Since 2000, Maine Network Partners has been educating funders, nonprofits, government, businesses and individual community members about the tools and skills needed, and potential impact of working collaboratively.

The Maine Association of Nonprofits is a statewide, membership organization representative of and a champion for Maine nonprofits. MANP’s mission is to strengthen the leadership, voice, and organizational effectiveness of the state’s nonprofits so that they can better enrich the quality of community and personal life in Maine.

For more information on the Fellows program please contact Mark Hews, Director of Programming with the Maine Association of Nonprofits at (207) 871-1885 or email mhews@nonprofitmaine.org. For information on Maine Network Partners please contact Warren Cook, Bo Norris, or Carole Martin.

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