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104: Using Radical Transparency to Build Volunteer Buy-In

Time + Talent Podcast

Release Date: 10/28/2019

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Open, honest, and transparent communication can produce real results when applied to introducing and implementing changes to a volunteer engagement strategy. Kendra Baumer shares the success she’s had at the New York–New Jersey Trails Commission.

Kendra practices a kind of “compassionate radical transparency” (our words) as her leadership philosophy. When conducting her program assessment, she kept everyone in the loop at every step of the way. This helped build trust in the process and buy-in when she was ready to implement program changes -- all vital for an organization that is 100 years old and steeped in tradition.

Kendra’s advice around having patience with the lengthy assessment process is spot on. Assessments take time to complete and she was so smart to set tentative timelines. You never know what you’ll learn or want to explore further and you don’t want to set unrealistic expectations at the start that this endeavor can be completed quickly.

Also, she recommends that those conducting the audit not take volunteer comments personally.  In order to truly learn, we have to be able to listen without bias or preconceived notions about what’s going on in our organizations.  Plus, she focuses on “holding herself to the expectation to share feedback in a respectful manner” helps volunteers feel safe.

Anyone interested in learning more about the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference

can visit their website at https://www.nynjtc.org/ or follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @nynjtc.

If you want to reach out directly to Kendra, you can email her at kbaumer@nynjtc.org.  You can also find Kendra on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/kendrabaumer/

Guest Bio:

Kendra Baumer

Volunteer Engagement Manager

New York-New Jersey Trail Conference

Kendra joined the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference in 2017 as the Volunteer Engagement Manager. Previously, she supported the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters & Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania’s work to protect the Delaware River Watershed by developing volunteer programs that moved online activists into offline action takers.

After earning her undergraduate degree from Syracuse University, she worked in public relations where she engaged and educated consumers on LED lighting and energy efficiency. She then went back to school for her Master of Public Administration concentrated in sustainability from CUNY Baruch College. While completing her masters, she did environmental outreach and education work for the NYC Department of Environmental Protection, Somerset County Environmental Education Center and Student Conservation Association.

She enjoys hiking, camping, backpacking and nature photography.