Nov 2018 Forum – Making an Impact: Experiential Learning & Skills Based Volunteering

Making an Impact: Experiential Learning & Skills Based Volunteering


It is widely known (and demonstrated ) that volunteering makes employees happier, more loyal, and increases satisfaction with their jobs.  For job seekers, volunteering can help an individual demonstrate and build skills that can help them to land a new job or advance at their current company.  For retirees, it’s a known fact that volunteer work offers many benefits to a person’s emotional well-being.   According to a study by CNCS67% of retirees reported they often sensed a lack of companionship before volunteering, but experienced an increase in meaningful social interactions after beginning in a volunteer role.

Skills-based volunteering (SBV) is where volunteers contribute their professional skills, often providing expertise to directly supporting a nonprofit’s internal operations, strengthening the infrastructure and capacity of the organization.   SBV is a unique approach to community engagement that matches employees’ workplace skills, expertise and knowledge with nonprofit needs to increase their impact in the community.

Experiential learning is where individuals are learning new skills sets from experience or “learning by doing”.  This is a potent way to develop new skills, new attitudes, or new ways of thinking while actually applying current aptitudes and skills into new roles or tasks.

By leveraging all types of skills, from IT support and strategic planning to marketing and HR consulting, both experiential and skills based volunteering helps nonprofits expand their reach and become more sustainable, while allowing employees, job seekers and retirees an opportunity to build their portfolio of practical and leadership skills, and at the same time give back to a cause they believe in.

This month’s forum will be a panel of individuals that have both SBV and Experiential Learning experiences, and will discuss the benefits of each, and share personal stories of their own volunteering as well.

Our Panelists

Erin Simon is a is the Volunteer Director of the AARP Foundation Experience Corps program in the Twin Cities, a national program to mobilize elders to build caring relationships that help children develop social, emotional, and academic skills, while cultivating meaningful connections to the community. Erin has spent 5 years with the Twin Cities program, building up the volunteer presence to over 100 literacy tutors and mentors at 20 Minneapolis and St. Paul Elementary Schools. Erin is also a dancer and dance educator in the Twin Cities.

Jim Schiebel  is currently Professor of Practice at Hamline University in the School of Business. as well as Regional Volunteer Director of AARP( a volunteer position), and serves on the boards of the Congressional Hunger Center, tpt (Twin Cities PBS), Twin Cities Jazz Festival, and Minnesota Voice.   In 1989,  Jim was elected Mayor of Saint Paul. During his years at Mayor he served as Chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayor’s Task Force on Hunger and Homelessness. President Bill Clinton nominated Jim to be Director of ACTION in 1994, which then became Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), as well as continue to direct VISTA and the Senior Corps.

Kate Schaeffers, PhD, LP is the Executive Director of the University of Minnesota Advanced Careers Initiative (UMAC ), a program for Boomers transitioning from career jobs into meaningful engagement.  She is a psychologist, consultant, and coaches professionals who are transitioning into new roles, jobs, and careers, and organizations that are exploring ways to tap the talent of a multigenerational workplace.  Dr. Schaefers is volunteer state president for AARP-MN, and a founding board member of our own SHIFT as well.

Tracy Nielsen currently serves as the Executive Director for HandsOn Twin Cities. Prior to her current role, Tracy worked with United Ways for twelve years serving in roles as Chief Executive Officer for United Way of Kenosha County, Communications Director and VP – Marketing and Resource Development for both United Way of Racine County and United Way of the Wine Country in Northern California. Tracy has held other roles in the nonprofit sector, including a ten‐state AmeriCorps Program focused on the retention of low‐income and first generation college students throughout the Midwest, as well as AmeriCorps*VISTA member focused on addressing the issues of homelessness in Racine, WI.


Monday, November 5, 2018
Networking: 6:15 – 7:00 pm
Presentation: 7:00-8:30 pm
Location: Minnesota State University Mankato at Edina


Event fee: $15 for members; $25 for non-members




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Refund Policy: In the event that SHIFT cancels a program, you’ll receive a refund of your registration payment. SHIFT will not issue credits or refunds in the following circumstances: you cancel your registration, register but do not attend, or attend but leave early, or do not attend all sessions of a multi-session course.