Young Professional Spotlight: Magi Zlatkova
As a member of the UNA – Chicago chapter, Magi Zlatkova’s favorite SDG is #4: Quality Education – after all, “education is the foundation of everything,” she says. We spoke with Magi about her experience as a Young Professional representative.
When did you first get involved with UNA-USA?
What interests you the most about the organization?
Truly having the power to affect change at a local level and getting to know some great people in the process!
What made you decide to take on a leadership role within your chapter, and what’s been the greatest value to come from that work?
Professionally, I deal with operations and data, and I realized there was a need for that, especially in the non-profit space. I realized that I could help create structured opportunities for people to get involved in ways that impact their areas of interest. What’s cool about UNA is that when you’re really passionate about a project, there are people to support you so you can achieve your goal. In my case, that project involves organizational structure, data within the organization, and other projects relating to operations. To me, that’s been the greatest value; I love meeting people who are passionate about engaging in opportunities that I helped create.
What role did you have as a YP Representative, and how did your national volunteer work (as a YP Rep, attending the summits) inform your local work?
Early on, while I was YP chair, I was simply helping create opportunities for like-minded individuals to get together and network. If they happened to join in our advocacy campaigns, education, or any part of the organization, great – but the goal was mainly to be a resource and develop a sense of community. The YP network at UNA is wonderful, both locally and nationally. I found that there are so many young professionals that want to be engaged in volunteer work with UNA locally, and nationally, and young professionals are there to help with support through past experiences.
What are the major projects/programs you’ve contributed to in your chapter?
I’ve had the privilege of being able to contribute to many pilot programs that Chicago has started. In the past year, thanks to our president, we (re)started our Global Goals program, where people who work locally can become an ambassador for a global goal, and act on it. We also began a fellowship with the State Department, where our members can engage with an Embassy abroad, to learn about diplomacy. Both projects are a great example of how UNA contributes to work both locally and globally, and I’m looking forward to helping grow them next year. Stay tuned…
What benefits do you see to being involved both locally and nationally within UNA-USA? What do you like most about the summits?
There are SO many benefits, it just depends on what you’re looking for! Professionally, it’s great for your resume, and helps build experience – perhaps even in areas where you might not have had previous experience. Personally, it just comes down to the fact that it makes you feel great; it’s so easy to use UNA as a platform to make an impact in your corner of the world. The national chapter and summits help support local work through inspiring and motivating you, while connecting you to people who are doing similar work across the country.
What’s one thing that your most proud of during your time in UNA Chicago?
Since I started, I have wanted to create a reoccurring Women’s Day event in Chicago. Last year, I was finally able to hold the event with our chapter to start our Cities for CEDAW initiative, which lead to a collaboration with our Advocacy Director. Since then, we have been able to get a signed letter of support for CEDAW from the Mayor of Chicago. So much more to come in this space!
What’s one piece of advice you would give to other young members looking to make an impact in their local chapters and communities?
Find one thing you are passionate about and commit to it. It’s really difficult at times, because I know we are all passionate about so much. There’s so much work to be done in every area that it’s hard to focus. However, once you decide to devote your time to climate action, education, or whatever it may be, you really get to know the space, and become an expert in your field. This allows you to feel like you’re having a tangible impact in a space of significance to you. No amount of time commitment is too small; just beginning, and asking how you can get involved is important!