Nancy Ukpe Gargula joins us to share her experiences from her first year in the association industry as well as insights from her work related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Nancy’s insights address a range of topics include ways to connect with others when you are new to your organization to how to slow down and consider what your members need to create and nurture equity. Her insights open doors to new approaches and actions. Nancy reminds us it is important to learn from our mistakes keep moving forward. Listen and enjoy in Nancy’s pointers and perspective!
“It takes time, and there are missteps when you’re building something from the ground up. There are going to be mistakes, there are going to be failures, but you learn from them, and you course correct.”
Nancy Ukpe Gargula serves as the manager in the people and culture department at the MacArthur Foundation. In her role she works across the Foundation to ensure a positive and inclusive culture exists and researches organizational best practices that help create an environment where all staff can grow and thrive.
Nancy brings more than 10 years of experience aligning organizational brand to staff culture, developing leaders at all levels, employing tools and resources to help employees fully engage and thrive in their work, and bringing a lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion into the systems and processes of an organization. In her previous roles, Nancy led the diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategy for the Institute of Food Technologists where she worked with staff and members to determine best practices and opportunities to be more inclusive in operations. In addition, she worked with the YMCA of the USA (YMCA national resource office) training and developing leaders at all levels to bring the cause of the YMCA to life for their staff and members.
A native New Yorker, Nancy currently lives in Chicago with her husband and enjoys volunteering with community organizations, serving as a connector to early career professionals, practicing yoga, and traveling the world to experience new cultures and cuisines.
What are the most useful resources you’ve found to help your professional development (i.e. books, courses, trainings, assessments, magazines, thought leaders, etc.)? People have been very valuable for me, meaning my network of D&I practitioners and association professionals has helped be to better understand the association ecosystem and find helpful resources and tools to advance D&I at my organization. In addition, I listen to a lot of podcasts, and two in particular that help me in the day to day are Harvard Business Review’s Ideacast and Work Life by Adam Grant. I read a lot of books on race relations and its impact on society. One book that I think should be a recommended read for everyone is White Fragility by Robin Diangelo. I think we are all on our own journey when it comes to feeling comfortable talking about race, and this book examines how to have the conversation and provides action steps for engaging others. Another book I recently read that I think is great for those who bring people together whether for team meetings or national conferences is called The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters by Priya Parker. It has transformed my old thinking of why certain traditions of gathering exists and has inspired me to create new meaning and bring in an inclusive lens.
What is your favorite aspect of the association management field? For me, it’s meeting and connecting with people who all are working collectively to provide professionals in our respective industries with the knowledge, tools, and resources to better the world.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received? It’s actually a quote from the late Carrie Fisher, “Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.” I try to live out this quote in my professional and personal life. Another piece of advice I received from a mentor was to dream big and take up space. Playing small benefits no one.