Nicolas Dronen on his passion: growing non-profits and Brightside St. Louis posted 04/25/14

By Jon Franko

This guest blog post is from one of the more impressive young leaders I’ve met. His name is Nicolas Dronen and already, in only his early 20s, he’s built an incredibly impressive resume. What’s on it? Lots – as you can see for yourself here. From starting (and presiding over) an academic honor society at Saint Louis University for transfer students to now serving as the Chairperson for the Young Friends of Brightside St. Louis, this kid is one to watch. I knew it the minute I met him.

Nicolas, take it away…

I’m Nick Dronen: serial non-profit leader and current Chair of the Young Friends of Brightside St. Louis. I study hospitals in school, and want to build and grow non-profit hospitals for a living. I guess you could say that I love taking part in, and leading non-profit service based organizations – which is probably how I got to be writing this blog post in the first place…

So…”Why Brightside St. Louis?”

Brightside St. Louis seeks to beautify St. Louis through graffiti removal, greening and recycling. In January 2014, Brightside partnered with Launch St. Louis to create its first ever Young Professionals board. Being an avid Brightside volunteer, and lover of all things non-profit, this opportunity screamed “JOIN ME NOW” in big flashing letters. I saw this as an opportunity to educate the world on how awesome Brightside truly is.

St. Louis has been home to me for five years now, and I have seen firsthand how Brightside has made it a better place to be each year. Yet, not everyone has been so fortunate to see these changes, and that’s just not cool. I want to change this.

My goal is to help grow Brightside’s reach, visibility, and volunteer base – especially with the younger population of St. Louis.

Some perspective

I now have the opportunity to carry out the mission of Brightside as Chairperson of the Young Friends Board. From my perspective, I anticipate some great things and anticipate the building process of this new board to be challenging, exciting, and fun.

Initially, I foresee our strategy to be firmly rooted in Brightside’s mission. Meaning that we’ll be in the community a lot, focusing our attention on meeting the needs of St. Louis neighborhoods all while promoting the organization.

Throughout our development, I expect to see that our strategy and promotional activities will lead to many new Young Friend’s members, volunteers, increased visibility, and most importantly, a whole lot of fun.


The greatest challenge I see for the board is using our resources appropriately. We have so many talented people with great ideas, and I’d hate to see any of that get lost if our team tries to do too much. Fortunately, with the seasoned guidance of the Launch team, I expect this challenge to be a minor speed bump along our path of growth.

As an organization, I see our greatest challenge to be expanding our reach to the younger population of St. Louis. While I had the opportunity to experience Brightside in college, not all students or young professionals are enthused about the lifelong benefits of volunteering. I believe we can overcome this by marketing the right volunteer events to students, and by creating a strong reputation for having fun and engaging volunteer opportunities.

It’s early…but it’s still been an honor…

While it’s only been one month, it has been an honor to serve as Chairman thus far. We have a strong, determined and hungry team that seeks to do a lot of good in the coming months. I look forward to growing the future of Brightside, and encourage everyone to get involved with this awesome organization.

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