Kyle Layne works as a Major Gifts Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, one of the world's leading think tanks. Based in D.C., he is part of the first online-only cohort of the M.S. in Nonprofit Management program, an option that launched in the fall of 2019.
Kyle discusses his role spearheading fundraising programs and serving on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force at the Carnegie Endowment, and his passion for empowering others to create meaningful changes in society. Kyle also serves on the board of the Nonprofit Management Student Association as Director of Online Engagement, helping to foster greater connection between online and on-campus nonprofit management students.
What was your experience like living in D.C. while joining the first online-only cohort of the Nonprofit Management program?
It has been an amazing experience so far! I will even go further to say this program and my fellow cohort members have been my saving grace of normalcy throughout this quarantine.
Prior to joining this program, I received an MA in International Affairs from The George Washington University. I worked full-time and went to school part-time, much like what I am doing now, but the difference between the two, traditional vs. online, has definitely been the amount of flexibility. Instead of having to leave work then rush to class and then rush to get home after class, the online option has allowed me to get off of work and not worry about anything but being online in time for class.
It has also been inspiring to be in a program learning from and with other like-minded nonprofit professionals committed to making an impact in the world.
Tell us about your career path and your current role at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
While at the University of Pittsburgh, I knew I wanted to have an impact, but had no idea how I would go about doing that in my post-college life. I'd say I stumbled into the fundraising field, but I could not be happier to have found this field. I worked in the Division of Development and Alumni Relations at The George Washington University in several capacities, from Executive Assistant to Senior Prospect Analyst, from 2013 to 2018. Along the way, I picked up a multifaceted skill-set needed to be the versatile professional I am today. It definitely has not been the clearest path, and at times, I have second-guessed myself (a lot), but I am beyond thankful for my journey. I guess that is life. Right? No regrets.
Since 2018, I have served as the Major Gifts Associate at the Carnegie Endowment, the first global think tank and a leading source of independent foreign policy, International Affairs research, and policy recommendations. In my role, I facilitate the philanthropic engagement of our board of trustees and the development of a fundraising program focused on the strategic cultivation and stewardship of high net-worth individuals and family foundations. I also serve on Carnegie’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force, made up of leadership, scholars, and staff. We are charged with promoting a more diverse and inclusive work environment, as well as addressing the larger entry barriers aspiring people of color, women, and LGBTQIA encounter in the larger International Affairs sector. I truly love my job, my team, and my colleagues–Carnegie Endowment is this foreign policy wonk’s dream organization.
I am a firm believer that true change takes root in society only when we (the collective we) do more than just acknowledge our specific privileges and say we will do this and that, but actually back those words with demonstrable action and accountability to address the prolonging inequities of society.—Kyle Layne, '21SPS, Nonprofit Management; Major Gifts Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Are there particular classes or ideas from the program that you are applying in your career?
The program in its entirety has helped with rounding out my hard skills and general knowledge about what the other side of the shop does, as well as how those pieces fit together in the larger context of any organization. I have been able to apply various ideas from each of my classes, not just one, in both my professional day-to-day and personal aspirations.
My classes so far have confirmed what I have known all along about myself and my career. I have a deep appreciation for this sector and the impact its professionals have on the world. I do not think it is said enough: nonprofit professionals are true stewards of change, and I could not be prouder to be a part of this sector.
What sort of impact are you passionate to make in the world?
Impact and the desire to have an impact continue to be a driving force in my life. I am determined to leave the world a better place than I found it, and even more motivated by the opportunity to continue to push and affect change any way I can. The causes I am most passionate about include human rights championship, climate action and change, and the education and empowerment of the world’s youth. I am a firm believer that true change takes root in society only when we (the collective we) do more than just acknowledge our specific privileges and say we will do this and that, but actually back those words with demonstrable action and accountability to address the prolonging inequities of society, whether in our local communities or abroad. My most aspirational dream has always been to establish an organization that will allow me to be a more effective conduit of change for those causes. Come January 2021, I am set to realize that dream while being all the more prepared thanks to some of the lessons learned through this program. Bring on 2021 already – am I right?!
You are a member of the board of the Nonprofit Management Student Association. What are your goals for the NMSA?
I officially joined the board as Director of Online Engagement at the beginning of quarantine, and it has been a great time. I have had the opportunity to meet and get to know some amazing peers while on the board, and I am thankful for the opportunity. One of my main goals for my tenure was to better merge the engagement between in-person and online by pushing our virtual inclusion in more in-person events, as well as creating more opportunities to connect with our in-person peers. Unfortunately, the quarantine and the ensuing “new normal” really put a wrench in those plans, but I am hopeful my successor will be able to continue to create a more connected community for the betterment of the program.
We all hail from so many different backgrounds and regions – our experiences, personal and professional, make this program incredibly valuable. The more we are able to come together as a community, the more we can learn and harness each other’s strengths in our own lives.