Board Trainings

Emerging Leaders

Emerging Leaders is an interactive and innovative program that prepares younger professionals from across all sectors to serve as nonprofit board members, committee members, and/or skilled volunteers.

Program Goals

  • Create a network of skilled, resourceful young leaders. Participants establish strong and lasting relationships that are personally and professionally beneficial and founded on a shared commitment to the common good.
  • Prepare young professionals for board, committee and skilled volunteer positions with local nonprofit organizations. Research shows that younger leaders are underrepresented on nonprofit boards, and boards report challenges in identifying and attracting young leaders. Over the past nine years the program has matched more than 200 young professionals with more than 100 community organizations!
  • Develop young professionals’ sustained commitment to their communities. Studies also show that young leaders who are actively involved in their communities are two to three times more likely to stay and contribute to the economy and well-being of our state.
“Regardless of whether you were familiar with the nonprofit sector or had served on a board, it was an empowering experience that made me (and everyone else I spoke with) feel prepared to serve in a board capacity. Beyond that, the opportunity to meet and collaborate with such an impressive group of peers was amazing and filled me with optimism for the future of local nonprofits and our community.”
-Emerging Leaders Graduate, 2016

Program Format

Each year approximately 25 applicants are accepted to complete the program, which takes place between September and December and includes a combination of hands-on and classroom learning. Led by skilled facilitators, guest experts, and leaders in the nonprofit field, the curriculum weaves together leadership skill development, training on board roles and responsibilities, and (optional) matching to boards and committees.

The program has been designed with special sensitivity to the schedules of its participants, who are often juggling many personal and professional commitments. The majority of the sessions are designed so that employees do not miss a lot of time on the job. All meetings take place in the Greater Portland area.

“The Emerging Leaders program reshaped the way I contribute to my community and to my workplace. The program not only showed me how I could make a difference as a board member of a nonprofit organization, but it also connected me with a network of inspiring, civic-minded peers. I am so grateful for the knowledge I gained, the leadership skills I built, and the friends I made during this program.”  ~Emerging Leaders Graduate, 2019


The Fall 2020 program has been postponed. We anticipate the next class will take place in Fall 2021. The safety of participants, speakers, staff and our communities remain our highest priority; after careful consideration of pandemic projections, public health guidance, and the continued high level of uncertainty, we determined that the types of curriculum adaptations required for safety would significantly compromise the integrity and value of this highly interactive, experiential and relational program.

We also recognize that community leaders are needed now more than ever; nonprofits and other community-based efforts are at the heart of our social safety net and are central to our sense of community, place, and spirit. While we have postponed the Emerging Leaders Program, we will be exploring and piloting alternative virtual programs to nurture and connect leaders and provide pathways to board service. We will be regularly updated MANP’s event listings.

Apply to Participate

Applications are currently closed. Contact Molly O’Connell at moconnell@nonprofitmaine.org if you would like to be notified when applications for a future class become available.

Be a Nonprofit Match

By 2025, 75% of the workforce will be Millennials. Younger nonprofit board and committee members add vital diversity to nonprofit boards. They bring different perspectives, ask fresh questions, and can provide new skill sets. Yet, according to BoardSource, younger leaders are often underrepresented on nonprofit boards. Emerging Leaders is focused on reversing that trend.

Each year a pool of nonprofit organizations is selected through an application process to serve as potential board/committee matches for the class participants. Currently this program is only offered in Greater Portland. Organizations interested in applying should be either based in Greater Portland or their service area should include Southern Maine.

Applications to be a nonprofit match are currently closed. Contact Molly O’Connell at moconnell@nonprofitmaine.org if you would like to be notified about future opportunities.

Program History

Emerging Leaders launched in 2010 as Young Emerging Leaders and was seed-funded by Norton Insurance and Financial with WEX sponsorship. The Emerging Leaders program has now matched more than 200 young professionals with more than 100 community organizations in Maine. After eight years with Lift360, the Emerging Leaders Program moved to MANP beginning in 2018. Current partners include Rippleffect and Portland Symphony Orchestra.