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December AFP Washington Martini Monday

December 15, 2010

Informal learning, the composite accumulation of knowledge from the infinite sources outside of traditional and formal education and learning opportunities (my definition) was the topic of this month’s Martini Monday. Martini Mondays are the newest networking opportunity for members and non-members of AFP Washington.

In addition to being free and accompanied by a discounted no-host bar, the gatherings offer a great opportunity to meet and share ideas with many of the area’s nonprofit professionals. Not surprisingly, most of the people I’ve met have been major gifts officers/managers. Regardless, I’ve been impressed with the vast knowledge and expertise of those I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, and have gone on to maintain collegial relationships with many.

The format of the meetings follows the World Cafe format of conversation, and encourages everyone to take part in an open and engaging dialog where all participants are considered equal and subject matter experts with respect to their own personal experiences. The group breaks into small teams that then rotate every few minutes where each newly assembled group discusses and answers a series of topical questions. At the end of the gathering, everyone is invited (but not required) to share their respective “ah-ha” moments of the evening.

The meetings are usually held at the Solo Bar in lower Queen Anne and are led by the event’s founder, Ellia Ryan who does an exceptional job as MC and facilitator. In my experience, the guest speakers at each event represent some of the best and brightest minds in the regional philanthropy scene.

In an interesting and welcome turn of events, Ellia was last night’s “guest” speaker and leveraged her experience as a fundraiser and human development professional to help frame the conversation about the hidden power of informal learning.

Likely the result of unusually severe weather and the holiday season, last night’s meeting saw a relatively low turnout of 15 or so. AFP Washington board president-elect, Peter Drury, took advantage of the smaller group size and facilitated an introduction of everyone in attendance which helped warm up the room. Given his experience, energy and gift of public speaking; AFP Washington will surely benefit from Peter’s tenure at the helm of its board of directors.

If you have the opportunity to attend the next Martini Monday, I urge you to do so and to actively participate in the informal learning that is at the center of every gathering. I look forward to seeing you there.

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