YPN5Q is a weekly Q&A series spotlighting the state’s top young business and civic leaders and creative minds — professionals propelling change through entrepreneurship, the arts, public service, social media, and community involvement.
This week we hear from Alfonso Wenker, deputy finance director at Minnesotans United for All Families, the official campaign to defeat the Minnesota marriage amendment on Nov. 6, 2012, that would ban marriage for same-sex couples in Minnesota.
Prior to joining the campaign, Wenker worked at PFund Foundation, a community foundation that advances social justice for LGBT communities in the Upper Midwest.
Wenker was a founding board member of the Minnesota GLBTA Campus Alliance — a statewide coalition of students, staff, faculty, alumni and community members uniting for change on college and university campuses — and was appointed one of four co-chairs for the 23rd annual National Conference on LGBT Equality in 2011.
He has served on the NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota Foundation board of directors and the Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy-Minnesota steering committee, and currently serves on the board of directors for Community Shares of Minnesota, a nonprofit that connects, funds and raises awareness for local community groups fighting for fairness and equality.
Wenker’s work is featured in the book “Become a Nonprofit Rockstar: 50 Ways to Accelerate Your Career” by Trista Harris and Rosetta Thurman.
Although Wenker has primarily worked with and for LGBT nonprofits, he approaches his work with a social justice framework that recognizes the intersection of justice movements and strongly believes in organizing across issues for social change.
Name: Alfonso Wenker
Current job title: Deputy Finance Director
Current employer: Minnesotans United for All Families
1. What do like most about your job?
That every day is different.
I lead our events team on the campaign and each day I get to work with Minnesotans from around the state to ensure our campaign has the resources we need to succeed. It’s incredible to see the number of people that have stepped up to defeat the amendment.
We have more than 7,000 donors already and it’s inspiring to work with them day in and day out. It’s incredibly rewarding to work with someone to take an idea and build it out into an engaging event.
2. If you weren’t working at your current job, what would you like to do?
I previously worked at PFund Foundation, and I would love to go back to LGBT philanthropy after the campaign.
Only one percent of foundation dollars in our state go toward addressing LGBT issues; this is a statistic I am committed to shifting.
3. What skills are important to succeed as a young professional today?
There are three things I’ve found very useful in my career:
• Clearly articulate the alignment of your personal mission and the mission of the organization you work for. This step has helped me understand my role with my employer and how I can make an impact through my profession.
• Have confidence in your work — but don’t get cocky. Do good work, know you do good work, and ask for help when you don’t have the answers.
• Develop trust and open communication with your supervisor.
4. How do you start each day?
I like to give myself plenty of time to wake up — about two hours. I take my time getting ready before I head to St. Paul for work.
I grab the mail for work in downtown Minneapolis, pick up a coffee at the University 280 Dunn Bros. and listen to MPR as I drive down University Ave.
5. Which living person would you love to meet?
I know it’s cliché, but, President Barack Obama.
His was the first presidential election that I got to be actively involved in. I, like many others, got inspired to be involved in the political process because of his message.
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