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Mentorship, Community, and Growth: Opportunities Through AFP-NYC's Emerging Leaders Committee

Mentorship, Community, and Growth: Opportunities Through AFP-NYC's Emerging Leaders Committee

Chapter Leadership Brief 11.17.23

By Mike Esposito, CFRE 
AFP-NYC Emerging Leaders & FDRNY Steering Committee Member
Director of Growth and Strategy at Hudson Ferris 

As 2021 drew to a close, I found myself at a crossroads in my fundraising career. I had been fundraising for a nonprofit organization for four years and was unsure of what my next step would be. I asked around and was introduced to the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP)-NYC and the Emerging Leaders Committee (ELC). I am incredibly grateful that I found AFP-NYC’s ELC, as it has allowed me to access a diverse network of members, mentorship, and professional development opportunities.

1. Mentorship and Guidance:
Since joining the ELC, I have found the bi-monthly meetings to be excellent opportunities to workshop challenges and brainstorm solutions with fellow members. When I first started as a committee member, I was struck by everyone’s willingness to share their experiences, offer advice, make connections, and provide support. The diverse perspectives and expertise within AFP provided me with a fresh outlook, helping me navigate through times of uncertainty and ultimately make the right decision. For me, these conversations are a true testament to the power of community and peer support that AFP fosters.

2. Collaboration and Partnerships:
Each ELC member is asked to serve as a liaison one of the following subcommittees: Fundraising Day NY (FRDNY), Government Relations, Professional Advancement, I.D.E.A., Membership, and Communications. Over the last two years, I have served as the FRDNY liaison on Fundraising Day New York is the largest single-day conference on philanthropy and is made possible through the diligent and consistent effort of AFP’s Board and volunteers. As the FRDNY liaison, I attended biweekly Steering Committee meetings, met and worked with multiple AFP-NYC Board Members, and provided support with the gamification of the conference’s app.

In addition to working with the FRDNY Steering Committee, I got to collaborate with my fellow ELC members on the two events that the Committee hosts every year: one focused on fundraising education and a networking event. In 2022, for the educational event, we hosted a panel discussion around the good, the bad, and the unknown of emerging fundraising forms. In the weeks and months leading up to each event, I enjoyed working with ELC members to plan the functions, recruit speakers, promote the activities, and solicit sponsors.

3. Knowledge Sharing and Professional Development:
AFP organizes workshops, seminars, and conferences where experts from various sectors of the industry share their insights and best practices. Earlier this year I attended AFP ICON in New Orleans, the world’s #1 fundraising conference, among 3,800 other fundraising professionals from all over the globe. There were countless engaging sessions throughout the multi-day conference, but I want to highlight one that centered ethical fundraising practices. “Cognitive Impairment in Donors: Best Practices & Considerations” led by, Tara Adams and Anthony Pomonis, CFRE, revealed that 1 in 9 people aged 65+ years show signs of cognitive impairment. Their session focused on best practices to utilize as a fundraiser when encountering signs of cognitive impairment in your conversations with donors and responded to questions about how to incorporate these practices in your nonprofit organization. While I had worked with many elderly donors over the years, this session provided invaluable insights into a relatively less-discussed aspect of fundraising. The session expanded my knowledge of solutions that are being developed, as Tara and Anthony are spreading awareness across the country with the goal of creating an ethical framework of best practices for fundraisers.

If you are interested in attending an upcoming AFP conference, I encourage you to register for:

  • AFP ICON, April 7-9, 2024, Toronto, Canada
  • AFP Fundraising Day, June 14, 2024, New York City
  • AFP LEAD, October 2024

If you would like to learn about how to become an ELC member, please reach out to ELC Co-Chair, Brently Winstead (

Shout out to Isiah Harris and Jace Prokupek for introducing me to AFP and encouraging me to apply to become an ELC Member! Huge thank you to Deb Brown, Brently Winstead, Caroline Ver Planck, and Victoria Shadle Williams for their support and mentorship over the years.


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