Emory Report
April 30, 2007
Volume 59, Number 29

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April 30, 2007
Goizueta teams up with local partners to offer new program

by kim urquhart

Emory Executive Development at Goizueta Business School has teamed up with Georgia State University’s Nonprofit Studies Program and the Georgia Center for Nonprofits to create a new program that will be the first of its kind in the Southeast. The Executive Leadership Program for Nonprofit Organizations, a week-long executive development institute, will debut June 25–29 at the Emory Conference Center.

Nonprofit organizations address many of society’s most critical needs and are one of the fastest growing segments of the economy. The ELPNO is intended to help senior and emerging nonprofit executives navigate the sector’s challenges, such as competition for resources, issues of governance and accountability, and an impending leadership gap, according to Kelly Bean, executive director of Emory Executive Development.

Peter Topping, associate professor at Goizueta and co-organizer of the ELPNO, said effective, proactive leadership is the key to surviving — and thriving — in an uncertain world.

“You need a combination of three things to be effective in nonprofits today: technical expertise in your field, business acumen on how to manage an organization, and leadership capabilities,” Topping said. “The need is to continue to hone skills and understanding of current best practices, and that’s where we come in.”

Each of the program’s five days will focus on an overall theme, with issues ranging from strategic leadership to generating resources. Participants will have the opportunity to interact with a dynamic group of professional colleagues and executive educators who Topping described as “the best current thinkers on key topics.” Through a variety of case studies, simulations, small group exercises and seminars, the program is designed as a “highly interactive, meaningful learning experience” that will help nonprofit executives perform at their highest possible level.

“Each person will be bringing to the program key challenges that they’re facing and we’ll help them work through that, so there will be a lot of applied learning,” Topping said. “The goal is to be practical, not theoretical, and to help them advance their organization.”

The ELPNO is not simply a training program, Topping emphasized, but an education. “Our goal is to help people to think differently, to look at their organization in more comprehensive, systemic ways, as well as drilling down to some pretty specific nuts and bolts that can be applied the next day.”

Topping, whose background includes starting a nonprofit management institute at Duke University, explained that the ELPNO is the result of more than a year of planning. Topping and his colleagues examined similar programs at Harvard, Stanford and Northwestern universities to design the ELPNO. “We’re not trying to compete with anybody, but to fill a need in our region,” Topping explained. “There’s nothing in the Southeast offered at this level, with this kind of horsepower in the program.”

Rather than offering the program through one organization, senior staff members at Goizueta joined forces with Georgia State’s newly-created program in nonprofit studies. The two universities decided to leverage Georgia Center for Nonprofits’ expertise in management training programs for Georgia’s nonprofit community, to form what Topping described as a “trilogy, where the whole would be greater than the sum of their parts.” Each of the institutions brings to the program specific experience and knowledge about nonprofit and leadership development.

The UPS Foundation is a key sponsor of the program, which has also found support in the corporate, foundational and legal communities. “The partners have worked very hard to keep tuition as affordable as possible,” said Topping, and are providing partial scholarship support to enable their colleagues in the nonprofit sector to attend.

Topping said that response has been strong for the inaugural version of the program, and organizers hope it will be the first of many more to come.

For more information on the program or to register, visit www.gcn.org. For more information on Emory Executive Development, visit www.emoryexeced.com.