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Michigan Nonprofit Association Blog

MNA’s Blog is designed to give you, the nonprofit community, an informal look into the issues currently facing Michigan’s nonprofit sector and an opportunity to share tools, resources and best practices. It’s also a way for us to get to know each other a little bit better through candid discussions of the topics, challenges and opportunities that our sector deals with on a regular basis. Check back daily and participate in the discussions by posting a comment or emailing our bloggers. We love hearing from you!

Michigan nonprofits: Where are we now? MNA's new president and CEO has her finger on the pulse

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Mental Health Awareness Month: Expert tips for boosting wellbeing

TW Blog Post 5.23.22 Mental Health

By: Tammy Pitts, Chief Communications Officer, MNA

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and on this day—the morning after the horrific tragedy in at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas where 19 students and their two teachers were brutally killed in the classroom—many are heartbroken, devastated, and angry.

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Nonprofit Employees Prefer Flexible Work Arrangements

TW Blog Post 5.4.22 Return to Work

By: Tammy Pitts, Chief Communications Officer

The days of making the commute into the office five days a week are long gone for many. In fact, 2019 feels like it was a lifetime ago. Flexibility is now the name of the game.

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Message from MNA’s President & CEO, Kelley Kuhn on the vision of MNA

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Meet MNA’s New CEO - An Interview with Kelley Kuhn

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By: Tammy Pitts, MNA’s Chief Communications Officer

We’re celebrating Women’s History Month this March to the fullest by honoring the women of Michigan Nonprofit Association including our president and CEO, Kelley Kuhn. She takes over the reins from former president and CEO, Donna Murray-Brown who stepped down last December to relocate to Kentucky with her family. Kelley is among the many women making a significant impact on Michigan’s nonprofit sector. While she has a new title, she isn’t a new face to MNA or the sector. In fact, as you’ll read here in the debut of her new series, “Keeping up with Kelley”, —she’s been passionate about nonprofits her entire life.

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How Nonprofits Can Protect Themselves from Cyberattacks

Twitter Blog Post 3.1.22 Cyberattacks

By: Mariah McAnallen, MNA Communications & Branding Manager

Cybersecurity experts say the prospect of cyberattacks is increasingly likely due to the war in Ukraine and advise consumers and organizations to brace for that possibility and take precautions.  So, what exactly can nonprofits do right now to prepare?  Turns out, quite a lot, actually. 

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Kelley Kuhn on the TTFromtheD Podcast

Kelley Kuhn on the TTFromtheD Podcast

On the Feb. 9th episode of TTFromtheD Podcast, Michigan Nonprofit Association's Kelley Kuhn chats with host Teresa Creggett Moore about her career, motherhood, finding balance and everything in-between.

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Black History Month Spotlight - Mark Dean

Black History Month Spotlight - Mark Dean

(Photos: ©risingafrica.org)

Mark Dean - Computer engineer, scientist, and inventor

Dr. Mark Dean co-created the IBM personal computer in 1981—helping to modernize the computers many of us use today in homes, schools, and offices. Dean holds three of the nine patents that IBM received  for its orginal personal computer. Dean also helped develop the first color PC monitor and the first gigahertz computer processor chip which sped up the computer. Because of his trailblazing work, he became the first Black person to be named an IBM fellow in 1999—the highest honor given to a person for technology contributions to the company.

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'I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams': Accounting Aid Society’s first Black CEO, Priscilla Perkins

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By: Tammy Pitts, MNA Communications & Marketing Director

Late author and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison once said, “Black women are the touchstone by which all that is human can be measured.” As a Black woman on the leadership team at Michigan Nonprofit Association, I was so honored to interview a trailblazer in Southeast Michigan: Priscilla Perkins, president, and CEO at Accounting Aid Society and current MNA member. When she popped on the Zoom screen for our interview, I was immediately captivated by her bright smile which lit up the entire screen. There was also an infectious energy that I could feel even in a virtual format. The following is an excerpt from our conversation.

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Black History Month Spotlight - Garrett A. Morgan

Black History Month Spotlight - Garrett A. Morgan

(Photo: ©Biography.com)

Garrett Augustus Morgan - Inventor, Entreprenuer, and Businessman
On this first day of Black History Month, we are celebrating the many accomplishments and contributions by African-American Inventors starting with Garrett Augustus Morgan (1877-1963) who saved countless lives with his inventions.

The son of freed slaves, Garrett was born in Paris, Kentucky in 1877 during the Reconstruction era. Garrett was a boy with big ideas and blazed a trail for Black inventors with his patents which included an improved three-position traffic signal, a hair straightening product and a breathing device for firefighters.  He moved to Ohio when he was just 14 years old and in 1895, he found work as a sewing machine repairman at a company in Cleveland. He saved all of his earnings and was eventually able to open his own repair shop in 1907. But that wasn’t his only business, Garrett Morgan also started the Cleveland Call newspaper which featured stories important to the Black community.

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MNA 2020-2021 Annual Report

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Watch our interview with the Michigan Nonprofit Association's esteemed past President, Donna Murray-Brown. Ms. Murray-Brown talks about all the challenges M.N.A., and all nonprofits, have tackled this past year. In addition, highlighting our tireless work toward impactful initiatives such as D.E.I.J. focused programs and Redistricting, to name a few.

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Top 10 Blogs from MNA in 2021

Top 10 Blogs from MNA in 2021

2021 continued to bring challenges related to COVID, furthered the conversation on racial inequality and social justice, and brought change to the very top of the Michigan Nonprofit Association.

The following are the 10 most popular articles of 2021. Revisit our most popular blogs from the past year or discover some of them for the first time.

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The power of the HUMAN connection in the IT sector

The power of the HUMAN connection in the IT sector

By Adam King, MNA Technology Director

As the IT Services Director at MNA, I am fortunate enough to meet and work with numerous nonprofits across Michigan that work to improve communities and make an impact on society. In late 2021, I had the opportunity to meet with the leaders of Human-I-T, an organization in Detroit.

Human-I-T is a social enterprise that is focused on the creation of equitable access to digital opportunities through several different programs. As part of their mission, they work with businesses and organizations to divert unwanted technology from landfills into the hands of people who need it the most. This program effectively solves two problems at once – filling the gap of the digital divide and curbing the e-waste crisis. Human-I-T then provides jobs to the local economy by wiping the sensitive data on the devices and refurbishing them for their second life. The refurbished devices are distributed to local organizations in need of this technology.

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How Data Impacts Nonprofits

How Data Impacts Nonprofits

By Nellie Tsai- Social Innovation Officer, Michigan Nonprofit Association

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A Year End Message from MNA's President & CEO, Donna Murray-Brown

A Year End Message from MNA's President & CEO, Donna Murray-Brown

As 2021 draws to a close I want to take the opportunity to reflect on a year that turned out much differently than any of us could have imagined. 2021 was yet another year disrupted by the pandemic with many of us forced to miss events or keep our distance from our colleagues, family, and friends. We continued to navigate meetings, fundraisers, and other events online. I salute those of you who found the strength to keep going even when times were tough. 
 
MNA’s commitment to advocacy and influencing change never wavered this year. We advocated for changes in the language and application process for the Paycheck Protection Program and we continued our webinars where we provided Covid-19 resources exclusively for Michigan nonprofits to help them operate in an environment that is anything but normal. Most importantly, we continued our quest for diversity, equity, inclusion and justice for all.
 
Some of our initiatives included:

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MNA Launches Anti-Racism Accountability and Action Cohort

MNA Launches Anti-Racism Accountability and Action Cohort

The past two years have laid the racial inequities that persist in our nation to bare. Throughout the pandemic and following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others, MNA knew that we had to double down on our work to address racial inequality. Now more than ever before, we are committed to confronting ingrained systemic racism with action.

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Garden of Hope: A Michigan nonprofit helping girls be their best

Garden of Hope: A Michigan nonprofit helping girls be their best

As a middle school student, Asia Jones was inspired to help other girls around her succeed. Growing up in Mason, Michigan, she noticed that some of her peers weren’t getting the same kinds of opportunities that she was. “I realized that not all of my friends had the village of support I had, and I wanted to fix that,” she said. She and her mom, LaShaunta Waller, began hosting workshops for friends at their house. As Jones began helping girls at her school, she realized the larger need around the Greater Lansing Area.

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Detroit Foundation Urges Local Nonprofits to Apply for Grants

Detroit Foundation Urges Local Nonprofits to Apply for Grants

By Tammy Pitts, MNA Director of Communications and Marketing



The impact of COVID-19 on Michigan nonprofits has meant canceled in-person fundraisers and a strain on budgets and resources. Yet, at a time when local nonprofits need funding to remain afloat, one of the oldest charitable organizations in Detroit tells me that applications for grant funding are down. Grants are vital for nonprofits- especially in a pandemic. So, what could be the reason for a decline in applications for funding that can be used to help children in the Detroit area? Board member Eileen Dixon of the Detroit Industrial School Foundation provided some insight.

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Year-End Giving: How to inspire your donors

by Claire Horlings

We’re nearing the end of the year and you’re likely preparing to kick off your year-end giving campaign by writing an appeal letter to donors. If you’re wondering how to make your letter stand out from the crowd and get results, here are a few tips.  

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Nonprofit organizes trips to redistricting hearings to provide platform for Native American voices

Nonprofit organizes trips to redistricting hearings to provide platform for Native American voices

By MJ Galbraith | Courtesy of modeldmedia.com

Community Redistricting is a series about how Michigan communities are working together to end gerrymandering so that all residents have a voice at the local, state, and federal level. This series is made possible with funding from the Michigan Nonprofit Association.

After 80 Michigan residents stood before the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission to comment on the draft maps released by the commission this past October, the in-person portion of the Lansing public hearing, it had appeared, was complete. It was time for the commission to move on to remote public commentary, held virtually via Zoom.

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Communities left questioning the redistricting process as they don’t see themselves represented

Communities left questioning the redistricting process as they don’t see themselves represented

By MJ Galbraith - Model D

Jerron Totten has a question for the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission.

If the purpose of the Michigan Redistricting Public Comment Portal was to enable the public, as the website itself states, “to submit public comment to the Commission, and tell them what’s important to know as they draw the new district lines,” why was the most popular map submitted not reflected in any of the Commission’s recently released draft maps?

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Donna Murray-Brown’s Sabbatical - “A Human Being, not a Human Doing”

Donna Murray-Brown’s Sabbatical - “A Human Being, not a Human Doing”

MNA President and CEO Donna Murray-Brown reflects on sabbatical

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Meet MNA’s new Business Development Officer, Claire Horlings. A few fun facts!

Meet MNA’s new Business Development Officer, Claire Horlings. A few fun facts!

By Tammy Pitts, Director of Communications and Marketing



Michigan Nonprofit Association is growing by leaps and bounds! We’re proud to welcome Claire Horlings to our organization as our new Business Development Officer. In this role, she is responsible for all business development activities including membership cultivation and retention, network growth, customer service strategy and sales. We’re impressed by the depth of experience and passion for the nonprofit sector that Claire has and having her on our team is a great honor. So, what should you know about Claire? For starters, she’s a foodie!

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Michigan nonprofits are asking their communities to comment on maps for state redistricting process

Michigan nonprofits are asking their communities to comment on maps for state redistricting process

Originally published by MJ Galbraith on Model D

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Staying connected: Best laptops for remote work

Staying connected: Best laptops for remote work

By Adam King, Technology Director, MNA Technology Services

Nearly two years into the pandemic, many nonprofits are considering long-term remote work. And since you’re going to be working from home for the foreseeable future –maybe even permanently- now is the time to replace your older laptop. Don’t worry if you don’t know where to start.  I’ve come up with a list to help you make the best purchase.

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How underrepresented communities have a chance to overcome gerrymandering

How underrepresented communities have a chance to overcome gerrymandering

Originally published by MJ Galbraith, Metromode - Detroit

From 1999 to 2002, Belda Garza served in the Michigan House of Representatives, representing what was then the state’s 8th district. At the turn of the century, Michigan’s 8th district contained much of Southwest Detroit, an area of the city with a substantial Latinx population that continues to thrive there to this day. Garza was the first — and remains the only — Latinx immigrant elected to represent a part of the state that is largely made up of people just like her.

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A Beautiful Me finds ways to foster self-worth and community connection, especially among girls

A Beautiful Me finds ways to foster self-worth and community connection, especially among girls

By Karen Palka, Contributing Writer - The Nonprofit Journal Project 

A Beautiful Me, founded in 2008, has a mission to create better communities one person at a time, with our focus being on girls and young women. Through confidence building workshops, innovative programs, and special events, our participants thrive personally and professionally. We also operate The Closet, our nonprofit store located in downtown Port Huron designed to teach business & philanthropy skills to teen girls. We give our young ladies the tools they need to be successful, while also building their self esteem and confidence.

I started this organization because I didn't see value, purpose, and worth in myself until I was in my 40s. This realization made me wonder what would happen if my daughters and their friends never stumbled upon that knowledge? But if I could get them to recognize their value and worth at an early age, they wouldn't have to endure some of the pitfalls and obstacles I did. Studies show that self-esteem peaks in young girls at age nine, and gradually declines without proper guidance and positive reinforcement.

Picture the community as a chain, which is only as strong as its weakest link. If we can get our young women to understand their value and place in the world at elementary and adolescent ages, they are more likely to take on roles in their adult lives that enhance their communities in some shape, form or fashion. 

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Rising Stars: Michigan Teens Making a Difference in their Communities

By Tammy Pitts, MNA Director of Communications & Marketing

He’s headed off to college this week, but 17-year-old Garret Lewis of Mason has been busy all year giving back.

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What will the future look like for Southeast Michigan's nonprofits?

By Sarah Williams, Contributing Writer - The Nonprofit Journal Project 

Over the last 18 months, nonprofit organizations in the region have spent much of their days in a reactive state: responding, experimenting and working to survive in order to continue serving community needs.

But the critical events of COVID-19, vaccination engagement, a heightened sense of racial justice and issues of climate change have also forced nonprofit leaders and those who support their work to look beyond the immediate, to consider the future.

How has this storm of challenges altered the nonprofit world, for better or worse, causing leaders to question and reimagine their systems of funding, models of work, governance and values? 

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Maximizing Efficiency with Canva

By Sarah-Grace Motley, MNA Marketing & Digital Engagement Manager

More engaging and eye catching design can not only elevate your nonprofit's mission, but also help your organization increase your impact, get additional funding, recruit volunteers, and more. Nonprofits often don't have time to spend on complex graphic design nor do they have budgets to hire outside to escalate the branding and impact of the organization. Lucky for you, Canva is your solution.

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Celebrating inclusion and diversity during Pride Month: Conversations with Colleagues

By Tammy Pitts - MNA Communications Director

Pride Month is still going strong, and we are turning the volume way up as we amplify and celebrate diversity, equity. and inclusivity. At Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA), our core values include diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice, and we support and embrace a work environment where our LGBTQ+ colleagues can be their authentic selves. Pride Month is a month dedicated to the uplifting and celebration of LGBTQ+ voices and that includes some of my colleagues. But before you hear their stories, a quick history lesson on why we are celebrating Pride this month. On June 28, 1969, police in Manhattan, New York raided a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn sparking a series of riots and protests in the LGBTQ+ community and igniting the modern gay rights movement. Pride is celebrated every June in honor of the Stonewall Uprising which was a tipping point for the gay liberation movement. Pride Month also honors and celebrates some of the most influential and inspiring role models from the LGBTQ+ community.

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What you need to know about Juneteenth and why we should all celebrate

By Tammy Pitts - MNA Director of Communications

You’re probably hearing a whole lot about Juneteenth these days as we get closer to June 19, 2021. I always find it surprising when people tell me they don’t know about Juneteenth. As a child, I knew exactly what Juneteenth was because my mother was a firm believer in children learning about Black history. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to inform enslaved African Americans that the war had ended, and they were now free. I can only imagine the shock and jubilation the slaves felt. Actually, they had been free since January 1, 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, but according to history buffs, the Emancipation Proclamation had little impact in Texas due to the small number of Union troops on hand to enforce the order. Slave owners ignored the order until General Granger’s regiment showed up with plenty of manpower to force the locals to comply and free the slaves. Texas was the last Confederate state to have the proclamation announced according to Cliff Robinson, founder of Juneteenth.com.  

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Michigan nonprofit receives boost in funding for youth mental health

By Tammy Pitts - MNA Director of Communications

The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on youth mental health with hospitals nationwide reporting an increase in kids battling anxiety, depression, and feelings of isolation due in part to the stress of the pandemic. But even before Covid-19,  mental health problems such as anxiety and depression were already on the rise among children ages 6 to 18, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And that is why nonprofits like CARE of Southeastern Michigan and the services it offers are so important. The nonprofit recently received a $50,000 grant and will use the funds to support youth mental health. “Some of the issues that teens and youth are experiencing are isolation from their friends and activities, and they have had to redefine their rites of passage and their caregivers are experiencing an increase in stress,” said Susan Styf, MNA member, and president and CEO of CARE.

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Internship Report: MSU graduate thrives in virtual internship; gains unique experience

By Tammy Pitts - MNA Communications Director

Among the benefits of an internship is the opportunity to gain real world work experience, personal development, career exploration, and networking. And Erica SooJin Song says she learned a lot from her experience as Michigan Nonprofit Association’s human resources intern from 2020-2021. To quote Erica directly, “It’s really been a great work experience. This internship has been my favorite and it’s the one I am most proud of; it’s been very rewarding.” Erica graduated from Michigan State University last month after receiving her master’s degree in human resources and labor relations. She was involved in various projects here at MNA, and I had the pleasure of hanging out with her for a little bit to discuss her school and work life, plus she filled me in on the “prince” in her life. Yes, you read that correctly. Here is the tale of Erica and Prince Zuko. Well, mostly this blog post is about Erica, but keep reading-- the part about the prince is coming up.

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Internship Report: MSU Student Gets Public Policy Experience at Michigan Nonprofit Association

By Tammy Pitts - Director of Communications

When the pandemic struck in 2020, many internships were canceled that spring and summer impacting students who were counting on those jobs and professional experience. The connections internships enable can be crucial for job seekers, especially seniors who are in their last year of college. 

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Volunteers are a vital part of Michigan’s COVID-19 vaccination effort; MNA staffer gives back

By Tammy Pitts - MNA Director of Communications

Chances are, when you arrive at a vaccination clinic in Michigan the first person to greet you is a volunteer. And one of those volunteers last month at Ford Field was Michigan Nonprofit Association’s Meridith Murley. The mass vaccination clinic in downtown Detroit opened in March for a span of eight weeks with the goal of inoculating as many Michiganders as possible inside the stadium.

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What is Imposter Syndrome and Why It’s Worse for Women of Color

By Nellie Tsai - Social Innovation Officer

Nellie Tsai Headshot

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Woman on the Rise: Meet MNA’s Mariana Martinez

By Tammy Pitts - MNA Director of Communications

Mariana selfieBeing a woman in a man’s world isn’t easy. Being a woman of color is even harder, but Mariana Martinez is among the trailblazing women helping to break down barriers. She is currently the Director of Civic Engagement Initiatives at Michigan Nonprofit Association and is leading MNA’s Redistricting Initiative.

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Survival Grants Ease COVID-19 Stress for Some Michigan Nonprofits

By Tammy Pitts - MNA Director of Communications

The coronavirus crisis has shown no mercy to Michigan’s nonprofit organizations with many struggling to hang on for more than a year now. But help arrived last month thanks to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s (MEDC) Michigan Small Business Survival Grant program. Relief totaling $52.5 million was doled out to nearly 6,000 small businesses and nonprofits statewide. The money is a lifeline for local nonprofits struggling to stay afloat. “I was extremely grateful to receive the survival grant,” said Regina Pinney, Michigan Nonprofit Association member and executive director at Nonprofit Network in Jackson County. Her nonprofit experienced a 30% reduction in revenue in 2020, and she says the $3,500 grant they received will be used to cover payroll. Protecting payroll is our number one priority,” said Pinney. “People deliver our mission and making sure they know their job is safe allows them to fully concentrate on helping nonprofits.”

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Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Program Expands Reach Thanks to Michigan Nonprofit

By Tammy Pitts - MNA Director of Communications

March is reading month and children across Michigan have access to free books thanks to a partnership between a local nonprofit and Dolly Parton. Yes, Dolly Parton. If there is one thing that most people can agree on is their mutual love for Dolly. Am I right?  

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Celebrating International Women's Day


By Tammy Pitts - MNA Director of Communications

InternationalWomensDay Today is International Women’s Day and we’re celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women globally. 

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I AM a Black Woman

By Tammy Pitts - MNA Director of Communications

Tammy Pitts*Taps mic* Is this thing on? Hello. I am Tammy Pitts, Director of Communications at Michigan Nonprofit Association and you’re reading the first post of MNA’s new blog: MI Nonprofit Lowdown. As chief writer, I took the liberty of sharing my story with you in the inaugural post.

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