The Social Enterprise Club, in conjunction with the Social Enterprise Program, is excited to announce the launch of the Nonprofit Board Leadership Program at Columbia Business School. The Program aims to cultivate the next generation of nonprofit board leaders while providing a valuable service to alumni and the nonprofit organizations on whose boards they serve. The Program was created in response to students' high-level of interest in nonprofit board service and to the growing need for nonprofit board members with business training and experience.
Unlike programs offered at peer schools, a distinctive twist on this endeavor is its combination of active learning and alumni mentorship. The Program will pair students with alumni mentors, who will help students understand the challenges and rewards of serving on a nonprofit board. In addition to attending several board meetings, students will work with alumni on a research project unique to the nonprofit's interests. The project is expected to bolster the alumnus board member's and executive director's understanding of an issue important to the nonprofit as well as provide the student with a meaningful experience that draws on his or her course work at the School.
Current MBA student Paul Jordan '07 spearheaded this initiative from the student side. "Our goal is to enhance the contributions of the alumnus to the nonprofit by leveraging the abilities of MBA students," said Jordan. "In turn, students will learn about nonprofit governance from the uniquely experienced perspective of the alumnus."
Professor Ray Horton, director of the Social Enterprise Program, explains, "Today's students, who are tomorrow's alumni, will contribute to the nonprofit sector as board members, donors and top executives. We need to prepare them for all three roles."
Two training workshops will round out the Program experience for students; the first will take place on Friday, September 29, at the Robin Hood Foundation in downtown NYC. Founded in 1988, Robin Hood is a notable nonprofit which targets poverty in New York City by finding and funding community-based groups and partnering with them to maximize results. A second workshop in early spring will focus on the progress of projects and best practices. A reception will be held in April for all participating mentors and students to share experiences and key insights.
The Program is open to all current MBA and EMBA students, and this year, will serve approximately 15-20 students and involve a similar number of participating alumni. Participating nonprofit organizations include: Community Resource Exchange, Girls Inc., NYU Cancer Center, Autism Speaks, the NY Philharmonic, and the International Television and Radio Society Foundation to name a few.
Students will be selected through an application process and matched with an alumnus based on experience and interest. Over time the Program is likely to expand the number of participants. If the Program proves successful with MBA and EMBA students, it will be extended to alumni who are interested in being matched with other alumni who sit on nonprofit boards.
"What I keep hearing from alumni and organizations who have agreed to participate in the program is that it is a win-win," says Sandi Wright, Director of the Nonprofit Board Leadership Program.