Lanette Rivera has been an NTEN member since 2017.
What’s your current position? Give us a brief overview of what you do in your work.
I am currently the Development and Communications Associate at Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth, Southern Nevada’s most comprehensive service provider for homeless youth. I started as a volunteer for NPHY about 5 years ago while I was working as a communications facilitator in the corporate sector handling external and internal communications, social media management, and event planning. After two years of volunteering, I decided I should put my skills, education, and expertise to use in the nonprofit sector. I applied, interviewed, and tested for the job; three years later, I am getting paid for something I once did in my free time.
I currently handle all NPHY’s media, public relations, event planning, social media management, volunteer engagement, donor cultivation, marketing, community relations, and so much more. (I had no idea what I was getting myself into when leaving the corporate sector for nonprofit.)
What would you say most motivates you to do what you do? What are you most excited or passionate about?
Working with homeless youth is rewarding, frustrating, and motivating, all in the same breath. I was once 18 years old and in a very similar place of many of the youth I see every day here at NPHY. I luckily had family and friends who supported me and got me to a better place, where I was able to eventually finish college and pursue my dreams.
The frustrating part is that there are many misconceptions about homeless youth and people often think we are dealing with young kids not wanting to listen to authority. In reality and more often than not, the youth we see have become homeless at no fault of their own, due to them running away from abuse and neglect. Clearing up that misconception always feels good.
The part that is most rewarding and motivating is that as a communications person, I get to tell these youths’ stories. Often with a tragic beginning but never without the beauty of the resilience and hope. Every day, I see youth persevering and creating their own pathway to their dreams. I feel lucky to be able to share these stories every day and spread awareness about a cause that is truly changing lives.
What’s your favorite aspect of NTEN? What’s been the most helpful for you about being in the NTEN member community?
Oh, NTEN, you are all my favorite! I went to my first NTEN conference this year and was lured in by all of the energy and instantly wanted to be more involved. On a local level, sometimes there is a competitive nature between nonprofits rather than the collaborative environment. That collaborative environment has been my favorite aspect, as well as the most helpful aspect. I’ve been able to reach out to a few people I met during the sessions to ask advice and to help with ideation. I know that if I get stuck or need advice, I can reach hundreds of people through the online community. It’s amazing!
Tell us about a recent win (professional or personal).
My organization is hosting a Youth Homelessness Summit here in Las Vegas to discuss the issue within our community and all of the intersections correlated to youth homelessness such as sex trafficking, immigration, education, and LGBTQ. This is a HUGE win, as it is something that our community desperately needs. As a communications professional, this event will not only elevate the issue and the needed community attention but it will also highlight my organization as a leader in resolving this issue. It’s the best PR and external communications our organization could achieve and I am so proud to be a part of it.
What tech tool could you not live without?
Canva has saved my life! My position requires some graphic design work and I couldn’t have done it in the beginning without Canva. Now, I have learned the InDesign ropes but Canva was an initial life saver.
What do you do when you aren’t working?
I spend most of my time outside of work traveling, boxing, visiting different museums, reading, playing with my baby, Lucy the Yorkie, and attending any kind of live music shows.
What might the NTEN community be surprised to know about you?
I am a HUGE hip-hop connoisseur. If you walk by my office, I may have some Beats on my head, blasting Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, MF Doom, etc. In my opinion, many hip-hop artists, like nonprofits, are bringing awareness to the systemic issues plaguing our communities, many of the issues that you, me, and everyone within our nonprofit community are fighting for on the ground level. On the weekends, you’ll always catch me at a good hip-hop show!