By Madlen Gubernick

On my first day as a Communications Co-op at New Profit, I was handed a sheet of paper outlining the “Millennial Impact Fellow Video Competition,” a new initiative for involving young agents of social change in New Profit’s annual event, the Gathering of Leaders. The event brought over 400 leadership-level attendees from across the country to Atlanta, Georgia, to discuss themes of diversity, equity and inclusion – and how they pertain to social impact work.

I was asked to review the document and send it out to as many people as possible, to ensure we got a variety of applicants. Within days, we received double the number of applicants we had expected.

The fellowship offered free travel, registration, and accommodation at the Gathering for millennials making an impact in their communities. To apply, millennials submitted two-minute videos explaining their work, their hopes for the future and what they hoped to get out of the Gathering if they were selected.

As I watched the videos, I realized that each and every one had impressed and inspired me in a new and complex way. They told stories of trauma, poverty, and lack of opportunity – as well as hope, optimism and promise for a better future. It was at this moment that I knew I was in the right space.

Once we selected our 12 fellows, I began interviewing each of them for the New Profit blog. Each call continued the inspiration I felt while watching their videos. These millennials from across the country, working in a variety of communities, in a range of different sectors, were coming together to share their hopes for the future. I felt so unbelievably lucky to be a part of that.

As the event finally approached, I was able to meet all of the fellows and hear their stories in person, face-to-face. They radiated strength, empowerment and positivity, while also acknowledging the range of obstacles and challenges that their communities face on a day-to-day basis.

The struggles expressed by the fellows were echoed throughout the Gathering. The two-day event featured a range of panels, highlighting the work of social entrepreneurs, investors and funders in the social impact space, and everything in between. Each panel had a different focus around the main themes, ranging from reactions to the election, to the importance of systems thinking, human design, and evidence-based research.

While at the Gathering, it was my responsibility to capture each of these panels in a blog post, sharing the powerful work being done in Atlanta with our network throughout the world. Through these blogs, I connected the dots between what I’ve learned in class as a Social Entrepreneurship minor, to the social impact space that I look forward to working in later this year after graduation.

I’m overwhelming gracious for the opportunity to be a part of the Gathering, to listen and share the stories of the amazing work being done by inspiring people throughout our country, and to connect with millennials that I’ve grown to admire and adore.

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