Non-profit leaders study the ‘Art of Thriving’ at New Hyde Park conference

Ana Oliveira, Victoria Schneps, Mike Billia, Tina Handras and Bill Brown from Investors Bank

Leaders of non-profit organizations from Long Island and Queens joined executives on April 11 to network and learn about strategies for success in the global economy.

Hosted by Investors Bank, the ‘Art of Thriving’ not-for-profit conference brought hundreds of executives together at the Inn at New Hyde Park for a keynote address, panel discussion and special session on tax reform. Investors Bank has been hosting similar conferences in the New York metropolitan area since 2010, but this was its first on Long Island, according to assistant vice president and community development officer for Investors Bank, Jennifer L. Smith.

“The reason we host the conferences is to give back at the local level to nonprofits by providing resources and bringing together experts,” Smith said. “It’s our way to partner with nonprofits locally because we’re a grassroots bank.”

The overall goal for this year’s conference was to motivate and inspire not-for-profit professionals and board members as they work together to accomplish their missions and realize their full potential, even as resources are shrinking. The chosen speakers provided guidance and case studies on how nonprofits can think strategically about what is most important to achieving vision.

The keynote speaker at the event was Ed Henry, president & CEO of The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The foundation supports grant programs in the performing arts, the environment, medical research and child well-being, and Henry said he was impressed with the size of the conference.

“When you look at the number of people and the number of organizations here at this conference, it really speaks to people’s efforts to strengthen communities,” Henry said. “My only goal is to help people try to succeed at the work that they’re doing.

Investors Bank President and CEO Kevin Cummings also spoke at the event and encouraged the audience members that each of their missions is important.

John Nietzel, senior vice president for Investors Bank, said that the conference was about more than just learning from the experts. It also provided nonprofit leaders with an opportunity to share resources.

“They get the opportunity to network with people, not only bankers, but all these other not-for-profits,” Nietzel said. “You never know, they might be able to share services, share experiences, coach each other, it’s a tremendous opportunity.”

The panel discussion was moderated by Rhonda Klch, executive director of Equity First Foundation. The goal of the foundation is to provide vital financial literacy programs to a variety of New York communities. Klch said that with so many different nonprofits present, the goal of the panel discussion was to discover the shared needs between them.

“What we’re trying to do is take a variety of people from all different sectors and figure out what the common denominator is that makes everybody tick on the inside,” Klch said.

Paule T. Pachter is the chief executive officer of Long Island Cares, Inc., which brings together resources to provide for the hungry and food insecure on Long Island and provide humanitarian needs for its communities. Pachter said that as a panel speaker he was not only looking forward to sharing his experience with others, but he wanted to learn from everyone else as well.

“Not-for-profits right now are very concerned about what the federal government support looks like,” Pachter said. “For me, I’m here to learn just as much as everyone else and to share whatever expertise or opinions I have that would be of valuable to the people that are here today.”

Another panelist, The Michael Magro Foundation Founder Terrie Magro, spoke about the importance of social media to gain prospective donors.

Other speakers at the event included Director of Vision Long Island Eric Alexander and Grassi & Company CPA, Partner and Not-for-profit Practice Leader David Rottkamp.

Ana Oliveira, senior vice president and market executive for Investors Bank, introduced the panelists to the crowd and said that the conference summed up the bank’s overall mission.

“It’s the fabric of our footprint,” Oliveira said. “We really try to help not-for-profits within our communities that we serve, and having it at a venue like this where we bring some experts in to provide some advice to local nonprofits that might be having some challenges is a great thing to do and be able to offer to give back to the communities that support us as well.”

More from Around New York