MINN Volunteer Spotlight: Lauren Satterlee

MINN Volunteer Lauren Satterlee

MINN is pleased to feature Lauren Satterlee as our next volunteer in the spotlight. Lauren’s leadership and ingenuity have resulted in an overhaul of the IDEA Summit registration system, an upgrade in online systems in general, as well as a sustainability plan to train new MINN volunteers. Lauren is consistently pushing her work a step beyond what is asked, or even dreamt. She is a true visionary who can see not only where a project is going, but which barriers may impede success and then identify a system to tackle each challenge.

Lauren joined MINN as a volunteer in 2011 before going to graduate school to study international development in Boston. She immediately impressed MINN’s Communications Committee which tasked her to identify online locations for MINN to cross promote events. At the next meeting she came with a matrix of a dozen locations and had even created logins for MINN to facilitate ease of uploading. The second element wasn't even part of her assignment.

In 2013, after returning from graduate school, Lauren was recruited to assist the inaugural MINN IDEA Summit in optimizing its online registration system. This was a major task with very little guidance and Lauren stepped in and not only made sense of the online registration system, but maximized its utility for the conference. From email reminders to guests about parking locations, to sorting out room reservations for breakout sessions, Lauren tackled it all. Then she turned around and organized the day-of registration which was seamless.  In fact, Lauren’s work is so excellent that sometimes it goes undetected. But don’t be fooled, it takes a lot of ingenuity to make an event seem so effortless.  You might know Lauren also from all the live tweeting she did during the IDEA Summit. In fact she was our chief social media correspondent for the event.

But for Lauren social media and IT platforms are just a tool, her real passion is in assisting people tell their unique stories with great integrity. This year Lauren is working with a host of other volunteers to revitalize MINN’s Communications Committee as a place for sharing the innovative and important stories of MINN members and their work.  Look for her name on future bylines and/or approach her about your story idea. Lauren is a brilliant, passionate and thoughtful person who is a pleasure to have on your team. We are so grateful to have volunteers like Lauren who are elevating MINN into a true professional association for international practitioners.

A few fun facts about Lauren Satterelee:

1) When did you start volunteering with MINN and why?

I have been attending MINN events since 2009, and started volunteering as part of the Communications Committee in 2011 because I was interested in working with others who were interested in the fields of communications and international development. Shortly after, I moved to Boston to go to grad school for sustainable international development.  In 2013, when I returned to the Twin Cities after completing my master’s, I reconnected with Karen Baumgaertner, who invited me to be involved with planning the inaugural IDEA Summit. I was excited to be involved in this great new initiative for MINN, and stepped in to help with establishing the attendee registration process for Summit, which evolved into the role of Registration Lead. I am now serving as a liaison to this year’s Registration Leads and also volunteering as part of the Summit Monitoring, Evaluation, & Learning Team to help with designing, implementing, analyzing, and reporting key takeaways about the experience of attendees at the Summit in order to inform future events. It is energizing to be part of a group that is passionate about building and sustaining a network of international practitioners in Minnesota and dedicated to creating superior programming to support the work of the organization’s members. I also recently joined the newly reformed MINN Communications Committee and am looking forward to continuing to contribute my time and skills in that area as well.

2) Current job title and organization/company with whom you work?

I’m currently working with Honoring Women Worldwide as program and office coordinator. One of our main programs is a mentoring program for first-generation female college students. We’re planning to expand the program internationally next year to provide professional development to Saudi women in an intensive version of the program also based here in Minnesota. I also manage the website and communications for a program of the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life at Brandeis University called Peacebuilding and the Arts. The program focuses on the distinctive contributions of culture and the arts to the transformation of conflict and promotion of creative approaches to coexistence and reconciliation across the globe. In addition, I am currently serving as a program evaluation consultant for Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest, advising them in methods to better capture and report the positive impact of their youth programs, which aim to increase knowledge and understanding of concepts including personal finance, college and career readiness, and entrepreneurship.

3) What are your future aspirations with international development work?

I was pleasantly surprised at the sheer number of organizations that attended the IDEA Summit last year that I was not aware existed, and that are doing important work on international issues, benefiting and building the capacity of communities across the world, raising awareness, and mobilizing people in Minnesota around these same  issues. I am interested in and trained in community-led, participatory approaches to development that invest in and cultivate people’s talents and skills to bring about positive, lasting changes in their own communities. Sustainable development, in any place in the world, is about careful consideration of the economic, social, and environmental impacts of projects, and not only avoiding negative impacts but fostering positive impacts in each of these areas, regardless of the primary objectives of the project. I have a particular interest and background in projects with environmental foci, as well as regional interest and work experience in Latin America, and I would like to continue working for organizations that have a presence in Minnesota and continue working to provide resources for and facilitate sustainable development internationally. My high-level goal is to use my skills/experience/training in communications, program development, and evaluation to support organizations that are working to support the health and longevity of our natural ecosystems and biosphere while also protecting and improving the health, well-being, and equal rights of current and future generations.

4) What do you like most about volunteering with MINN?

I was thoroughly impressed by the caliber of volunteers that worked together to organize and host the inaugural MINN IDEA Summit in 2013. I was inspired by the success of the event, and the great work the organization continues in bringing together professionals in Minnesota who care about international development. My experience thus far with the planning for the 2014 Summit is equally as positive. I am committed to my own continual personal and professional growth and learning, and I am inspired that the volunteers that lead MINN share this interest and enthusiasm for continual improvement and innovation in pursuit of the organization’s mission. I also know that my value for quality work is reflected fully in the values of the other MINN volunteers, which makes the experience very rewarding as well.

5) How has your engagement with MINN helped with your professional development?

My involvement with MINN has encouraged my personal and professional growth in multiple ways. It is a great opportunity to practice my skills in communication, teamwork, leadership, and event facilitation. While MINN volunteers are ready and willing to step up and take leadership and responsibility, I have also noticed that they possess an admirable commitment to sharing the spotlight and encouraging each other to utilize, develop, and share their skills to the benefit of all involved. This supportive environment has helped me to take on roles that I might not have otherwise, and practice important skills that are very applicable in other areas of my work and life. Perhaps this is because those who are involved with MINN, who have dedicated their lives toward the pursuit of creating positive change in the world, naturally see the means to be as important as the ends.