Community Development Practice


There is a growing recognition of the role of youth in community development. Their roles range from serving on youth committees in local development organization to training for careers in the community development profession (e.g., Brennan, Barnett, & Lesmeister, 2007; Christens & Dolan, 2011). Thus, encouraging young professionals and graduate students to become members in professional associations or organizations is crucial for networking, professional development, and collaborative efforts towards community development. In an attempt to bridge potential pitfalls associated with student involvement in a professional association, an ad hoc meeting of graduate students and young professionals was convened at the annual conference of the Community Development Society (CDS) in July 2017. The discussion eventually blossomed into an initiative which created an opportunity to explore best practices for CDS to make students and young professionals feel included and welcomed. The participants discussed best practices for enhancing the culture of the association based on their lived experiences. Furthermore, these discussions revealed four major barriers in participating in a professional association which include lack of monetary funds, self-examination of “doing” community development, practitioners vs. academics, and the overall benefits of belonging to the association and attending the conference.