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Here’s What We See: Competency-Based Education Can Solve the Nonprofit Disciplinary Conundrum

Dorothy Norris-Tirrell and Susan Tomlinson Schmidt
Dorothy Norris-Tirrell, PhD

Dorothy Norris-Tirrell, PhD
Vice President of Programs and Research
Nonprofit Leadership Alliance

Susan Tomlinson Schmidt, ACNP

Susan Tomlinson Schmidt, ACNP
Content Specialist, Early Childhood Innovation Center
University of Missouri, Kansas City

Here’s What We See: Competency-Based Education Can Solve the Nonprofit Disciplinary Conundrum
Dorothy Norris-Tirrell and Susan Tomlinson Schmidt

Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership, October 2023

Multiple disciplines and numerous theoretical foundations built the basis for study of nonprofit organizations. This article explores the disciplinary debate with data from the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance about the majors of students earning the Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP) credential over the last 10 years. Our analysis suggests that with a focus on the competencies needed for practice, nonprofit education works in any discipline. Embedding a competency-based, applied pedagogy allows many disciplines to ensure successful outcomes for students.

Dorothy Norris-Tirrell, Ph.D., is the Vice President of Programs and Research for the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance – a national network of 50 universities and national nonprofit partners working to create a talented and prepared nonprofit workforce. In this position, Dr. Norris-Tirrell facilitates the development of programs to develop strong nonprofit leaders. Her previous experience includes over twenty years as a faculty member and administrator at the University of Memphis and the University of Central Florida. Dr. Norris-Tirrell’s teaching and research focused on nonprofit organization leadership, governance and resilience, volunteerism, and cross-sector collaboration. Her research is published in the book, Strategic Collaboration in Public and Nonprofit Administration, and in book chapters and journals including the Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Policy Studies Journal, American Review of Public Administration, International Journal of Public Administration, and the Journal of Health and Human Services Administration. Dr. Norris-Tirrell has extensive experience as an agency manager, board member, consultant, and volunteer for a wide range of nonprofit organizations.

For her work in connecting student learning, nonprofit agency needs, and academic knowledge, Dr. Norris-Tirrell received the 2009 University of Memphis Excellence in Engaged Scholarship Award, and the 2014 Don Pugliese Award from the Southeastern Conference for Public Administration. She received a Ph.D. in Public Administration from Florida International University.

Susan Tomlinson Schmidt has spent more than 30 years of her career advancing the missions of a variety of service organizations, by focusing on building capacity through partnerships with universities and their local communities.

Currently, Schmidt is a senior advisor to the Executive Director of the Early Childhood Innovation Center (ECIC) at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. ECIC is part of the Institute for Human Development. The Center supports a range of community-based programs that lift the quality of the early childhood workforce across the State of Missouri.

Previously, Schmidt was President of the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance, a national network of professionals, nonprofit organizations, and universities building capacity in the nonprofit workforce. While there, she successfully introduced several key initiatives, Leaderosity, a robust, virtual professional development platform. Leaderosity trains as many 15,000 nonprofit professionals annually reaching across the globe to provide targeted training in nonprofit leadership. Schmidt’s leadership in converting the Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP) program from an analog, B2B model to an innovative, virtual, B2C model increased access and affordability to earning the nationally recognized workforce credential.

She received her master’s in public administration from the University of Memphis and is an Advanced Certified Nonprofit Professional.

By |2023-10-19T11:41:41-04:00October 19th, 2023|NACC Member Research|

NACC Celebrates Outgoing and Incoming Board Members

As we bid farewell to our outgoing board members, we extend our deepest gratitude for their invaluable contributions, dedication, and guidance that have steered our organization towards success. Their legacy will remain an integral part of our journey.

John Casey
Baruch College
City University of New York (CUNY)

Renee Irvin
Past President
School of Planning, Public Policy, and Management
University of Oregon

Alicia Schatteman
Vice President of Governance
Center for Nonprofit & NGO Studies
Northern Illinois University

David Springer
RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service
LBJ School of Public Affairs
University of Texas at Austin

At the same time, we warmly welcome our new board members, trusting in their fresh perspectives and expertise to lead us into the future. We look forward to forging new paths and achieving greater milestones together.

Nathan Grasse
Associate Professor
School of Public Policy & Administration
Carleton University

Ruth K. Hansen
Assistant Professor
Whitewater College of Business & Economics
University of Wisconsin

Genevieve Shaker
Associate Professor of Philanthropic Studies
Donald A. Campbell Chair in Fundraising Leadership
Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy

Ellen Winiarczyk, EdD
Academic Director and Teaching Assistant Professor
Nonprofit Leadership Master’s Program
University College, University of Denver

By |2023-10-19T11:29:24-04:00October 19th, 2023|NACC Announcement|

Student Spotlight: Meet Joshua Carley

NACC, Texas A&M University
Joshua Carley

Joshua Carley
Program Coordinator, NACC
Nonprofit Management Student
Bush School of Government & Public Service
Texas A&M University

Student Spotlight: Meet Joshua Carley, Program Coordinator for NACC

Carley is a dedicated second-year Nonprofit Management student currently pursuing his master’s degree in Public Service & Administration at the Bush School of Government & Public Service. Carley is currently serving a local tourism organization as a Bush Board Fellow and is the student worker for NACC. Carley is deeply interested in cultivating and sustaining diverse community spaces, specifically focusing on looking at museums and local destination sites as areas of egalitarianism.

This past summer, Carley had the opportunity to explore both Washington D.C. and New York City to visit tourism nonprofits that represent our nation’s busiest cities. “The issues that face our world and tourism today deal heavily with how we can remain environmentally respectful of the space we travel. Organizations like Destination D.C. are leading the way in developing sustainable tourism that positively impacts the local culture and environment.” Carley looks forward to finding ways to scale these practices into his local community of Bryan/College Station and leave a green impact on tourism in Aggieland.

Upon graduation, Carley seeks to continue working with tourism nonprofits to help facilitate safe, sustainable, and exciting programming for locals and visitors alike.

By |2023-10-23T13:48:47-04:00October 19th, 2023|Member News|

Project Manager

The Johnson Center for Scholarly & Creative Excellence at Grand Valley State University seeks a Project Manager to join a multidisciplinary team of professionals. This is a full-time (40 hours per week) position, located at our offices on the Pew Campus at GVSU, with the opportunity for flexible work arrangements according to the GVSU remote work policy (see Salary and Benefits and ADA sections below).

As a Project Manager, you will support external and internal consulting, research, and operational projects. The Project Manager position will plan and implement project timelines, identify staff and other necessary resources, maintain clear client communication, and ensure quality, on-time, and within-budget deliverables. The position reports to the Director of Strategy and Planning and will support this Director as needed.

By |2023-10-18T15:21:58-04:00October 18th, 2023|Job Posting|

Data Architect

The Johnson Center for Scholarly & Creative Excellence at Grand Valley State University is seeking a Data Architect to join an interdisciplinary team of social science and information technology professionals. This is a full-time (40 hours per week) position with the center’s Community Data and Research Lab, located at our offices on the Pew Campus at GVSU, with the opportunity for flexible work arrangements according to the GVSU remote work policy (see Salary and Benefits and ADA sections below).

As a Data Architect, you will focus on defining and implementing the data architecture to support research, evaluation, and technology projects across the Johnson Center.

This role works collaboratively with the organization’s team of researchers, data analysts, and web developers. In addition, the Data Architect helps build relationships with clients and supports the identification, development, and delivery of client projects. Key to the position is a strong foundation in system design and development, strict adherence to data quality and security, and a desire to leverage these skills to support effective philanthropy and advance the common good.

As a member of the Johnson Center’s Community Data and Research Lab, this position’s responsibilities may include designing databases, defining ETL pipelines, and assisting with data processing to feed web-based dashboards and reports. In addition to project work, the role is responsible for proposing new data storage solutions and suggesting and implementing improvements to the current infrastructure. Current data infrastructure includes PostgreSQL databases hosted on-premises in a Windows environment, with a move to the cloud on the horizon. The position reports to the center’s lead of technical services.

By |2023-10-18T15:18:52-04:00October 18th, 2023|Job Posting|

Assistant or Associate Professor / M.S. in Nonprofit Administration Program Director

The Institute for Nonprofit Administration & Research at Louisiana State University in Shreveport seeks applicants for a tenure-track Assistant or Associate Professor (starting 2024) who also will serve as the Program Director for the Master of Science in Nonprofit Administration.

Assistant or Associate Professor / M.S. in Nonprofit Administration Program Director

The MSNPA Program Director performs under a 9-month contract overseeing a 33-hour graduate program designed to matriculate students within a year of entering the program. Teaching load is 4 courses within an academic year, including an expectation that one of those will occur during the summer term for which the PD will receive additional compensation commensurate with university policy for summer teaching. The Director will oversee the MS in Nonprofit Administration program, serving our students by (a) ensuring our curriculum remains consistently relevant and connected to Nonprofit Academic Centers Curricular Guidelines, (b) conducting coherent and instructive advising as necessary, and (c) helping assemble, develop and maintain instructors who bring exceptional insight and passion to the courses they teach. Reporting to the Executive Director of the Institute and working with the Manager of Operations/MSNPA program advisor, the MSNPA Director also will participate in connecting students to nonprofit organizations for internship and job opportunities. The Program Director is responsible to keep the MSNPA program aligned with NACC accreditation standards. There is an endowed professorship that is associated with the position.

The faculty member will be expected to be involved in service through the university, community, and profession as outlined in the Faculty Performance annual reporting done by LSUS. The departmental service expectations include participating in INAR staff meetings and attending INAR-sponsored events and conferences. The faculty member also can facilitate workshops and conduct consulting through INAR (any employment or consulting outside of INAR) must be pre-approved.

In addition, the faculty member will be expected to maintain an active nonprofit-focused research agenda. The faculty member may initiate, lead, and participate in INAR-sponsored research studies and supervise two Graduate Research Assistants.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Ph.D. in Nonprofit Administration, Management, Leadership (or similar)
  • Strong familiarity with best practices in online, graduate-level instruction
  • Previous experience as a program director, or in a coordinator capacity in a university environment
  • Previous paid experience working within a nonprofit organization environment

Required Qualifications

  • Terminal degree in Nonprofit Administration, or at the discretion of the Search Committee, one that is sufficiently associated with Nonprofit Administration
  • Track record of scholarly research
  • Demonstrated ability to teach well in an online platform as well as a traditional classroom environment


Commensurate with qualifications and experience.

How to Apply

Qualified applicants should submit a cover letter, CV, and 3 references to the Search Committee Chair, Heather Carpenter heather.carpenter@lsus.edu. Review of applications will begin November 1, 2023.

By |2023-10-02T13:38:07-04:00October 2nd, 2023|Job Posting|

Greetings from the Executive Director: September 2023

Nicole Collier, NACC Executive Director

Nicole Collier, MPSA
Executive Director, NACC
Center for Nonprofits and Philanthropy
Bush School of Government and Public Service
Texas A&M University


I hope that you are doing well and are enjoying students being back on campus! Here in Texas, I am excited for so many reasons. Firstly, after enduring a grueling 49-day stretch of temperatures consistently reaching at least 100 degrees, we’ve finally experienced some relief with highs around 95 degrees for the past few days—hooray for cooler weather! I’m also excited that with students back on campus, we have opened applications for our Honor Society, Nu Lambda Mu, to celebrate the exceptional students that are dedicated to nonprofit and philanthropic education.

I hope you’ve all marked your calendars for our upcoming annual member meeting on November 15th, which will be held in Orlando, Florida, or accessible online via Zoom. We’re currently finalizing the agenda and eagerly anticipating engaging discussions, as well as the opportunity to hear about your achievements over the past year.

I also want to express my sincere gratitude to everyone who attended and contributed to our July Conference in Auburn, Alabama. I would especially like to thank our hosts at Auburn University for being excellent hosts. I had an incredible experience and enjoyed the thought-provoking and meaningful panels, discussions, and presentations that took place. It was nice to see the NACC network come back together in-person!

Wishing you all the best!

By |2023-09-25T11:02:59-04:00September 25th, 2023|Executive Director's Report|

Research Manager

The Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University seeks to understand, strengthen, and advance philanthropy in order to create strong, inclusive communities. Its Center for Scholarly & Creative Excellence is seeking a Research Manager to join an interdisciplinary team of social science and information technology professionals. This is a full-time (40 hours per week) position with the center’s Community Data and Research Lab, located at our offices on the Pew Campus at GVSU, with the opportunity for flexible work arrangements according to the GVSU remote work policy (see Salary and Benefits and ADA sections below).

As a Research Manager, you will focus on program evaluation, quantitative and qualitative analysis, writing, and presentation support for applied research and evaluation projects.

The Research Manager works collaboratively with research associates, data analysts, and web developers at the lab as well as staff across the Johnson Center. In addition, the Research Manager builds relationships with current and potential clients and engages in public speaking and facilitation at workshops, presentations, and conferences. Key to the position is maintaining the highest standards of research quality and ethics, including collaboration with the university’s Institutional Review Board.

In addition, the Research Manager proposes research methodology (including alternative and equitable approaches to evaluation and participation), follows existing Johnson Center data protocols, suggests and implements improvements, and serves as an internal and external “evaluation ambassador” for the Johnson Center.

The Research Manager will regularly meet one-on-one with the Director of the Community Data and Research Lab, who will work closely with you and support you regarding project selection, client engagement, research, and final presentation. On-the-job training and professional development opportunities will be available.

By |2023-09-19T15:39:39-04:00September 19th, 2023|Job Posting|

Navigating the Future of Charitable Leadership

Alex Skailes, Centre for Charity Effectiveness
Alex Skailes, Director, Centre for Charity Effectiveness

Alex Skailes
Director, Centre for Charity Effectiveness (CCE)
Bayes Business School (formerly Cass), Faculty of Management
City, University of London

Bayes Business School logo

The past decade has witnessed a whirlwind of change and uncertainty across the globe. Despite these challenges, the UK’s charitable sector has continued to make significant contributions to the philanthropic field. To thrive in this ever-evolving landscape, charity leaders must continue to adapt and develop, meeting the cascading demands of their roles.

A pioneering research project, led by the Centre for Charity Effectiveness (CCE) at Bayes Business School (formerly Cass), City, University of London, is taking a proactive stance by investigating the critical attributes that charity Chairs of the future will need to embrace. This ambitious initiative brings together a diverse array of thought leaders and experts in the sector to delve into this vital topic. The research methodology encompasses roundtable discussions and in-depth interviews with contributors, culminating in a thought-provoking report set to be launched in Spring/Summer 2024.

The Bayes Centre for Charity Effectiveness leads this project, with funding from the Higher Education Innovation Fund, additional sponsorship from Green Park Recruitment and support from strategic partners including the Association of Chairs and Crowe UK LLP.

Research Objectives and Impact

This research project has set forth several key objectives:

  • Shaping Future Leadership: The project aims to provide insights that will shape the future development and recruitment of charity Chairs, ensuring they possess the requisite skills and attributes.
  • Sustainability and Governance: By highlighting long-term considerations for board discussions, the research contributes to the future sustainability and impact of the charity sector.
  • Influencing Best Practices: The findings intend to inform regulatory measures and best practice guidelines within the sector, emphasizing the ever-evolving nature of charity governance.
  • Value of Governance: The project underscores the critical value of effective charity governance, emphasizing its continuous evolution to remain relevant in a rapidly changing world.

A Decade of Change: Anticipating the Future Charity Chair in 2033 and Beyond

The journey of the CCE Future Charity Chair steering committee commenced in July 2023, when representatives from diverse charitable organizations convened to share their invaluable insights and experiences. Reflecting on the past decade and the profound changes witnessed, the workshop sparked discussions about the skills and attributes necessary for future charity Chairs in 2033 and beyond.

The decade between 2013 and 2023 brought seismic shifts that reshaped our world. From political transitions to technological advancements, the pace of change was relentless. We adapted to living in a state of perpetual crisis, moving from one transformative event to another. This relentless change underscores the need for the charity sector to thrive amid uncertainty, making it crucial to explore and understand the evolving role of charity Chairs.

A pivotal workshop with Good Innovation provided an opportunity to examine the disruptive elements likely to impact the sector. Representatives from various charities engaged in fruitful discussions, touching on topics such as Artificial Intelligence, climate challenges, funding dynamics, stakeholder expectations, and regulatory changes. While the sector’s diversity remains evident, common threads emerged, offering valuable insights.

Key takeaways from the workshop include the evolving nature of leadership, with discussions on movements, networks, and collaborative and generative leadership. Sustainability, succession planning, and the focus on collective impact were also central themes. Emotional intelligence, self-awareness, and ongoing personal development were highlighted, as was the importance of trust-building, vulnerability, and team empowerment. The necessity for increased diversity was recognized, including a focus on less visible forms of diversity. The increasing importance of creating social value from outside of the sector was also part of the debate, with more corporate entities seemingly entering the space once uniquely occupied by charities.

As this research project advances, with individual interviews and further roundtables, these initial findings and reflections will be explored in greater depth. For those interested in contributing or learning more, please keep an eye on the project’s website.

NACC Member Representative

Alex Skailes is a senior academic within the faculty of management and Director at the Bayes Centre for Charity Effectiveness (www.bayes.city.ac.uk/faculties-and-research/centres/cce).

Alex is an experienced strategy and finance director with a successful track record of advising and leading clients in the nonprofit and private sectors. She believes passionately in the power of cross sector working. Alex has combined the first class skills and expertise gained from her earlier senior career with PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deutsche Bank with a period of post graduate academic study and consulting work focusing specifically on the nonprofit sector. As a result of her cross sector experiences, she is able to harness best business practise and strong commercial experience with leading edge thinking for a sector that is currently undergoing transformation.

Alex specialises in strategic and business planning, feasibility and options studies. She teaches and co-leads the main core module ‘Resource Management in the Voluntary Sector’ on the MSc Charities programme. She has a particular interest in mergers, collaborations and sustainable business models and was a founder member of the mergers and collaborations advisory group within Bayes’ Centre for Charity Effectiveness (Bayes CCE) in 2014. In 2018 Alex joined the Executive PhD programme. Her research focuses on merger and acquisitions within the social purpose organisations, an exploration of the resultant social value created and the factors that drive this form of organisational change.

As a Director at Bayes CCE, Alex leads the team of core directors and associate consultants. The team are expert in nonprofit management, have senior cross sector career experience and come from both practitioner and academic backgrounds. The Centre is a leading nonprofit and philanthropy centre in the UK and overseas and delivers a world class blend of postgraduate master (MSc) degree programmes, research, consultancy and leadership development programmes both in the UK and overseas.

Alex is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (FCA), holds their post graduate diploma in charity accounting and has an MSc with distinction from Bayes Business School (formerly Cass) in Voluntary Sector Management. She holds a BA from University College, London. Alex is a Fellow of both the Royal Society for Arts, Manufacturing and Commerce and the Royal Geographical Society and is a Freeman of the City of London. She is on the finance and audit committee of The Seckford Foundation, former Chair of Community Action Suffolk and is a member of the International Women’s Forum UK branch.

By |2023-09-20T09:22:21-04:00September 19th, 2023|NACC Member Research|

Never not Organizing: Long Resistance and the Fight Against Gentrification in Pilsen, Chicago

Dr. Euan Hague, DePaul University
Dr. Winifred Curran

Dr. Winifred Curran
Professor, Urban Geographer
Geography and GIS, Sustainable Urban Development
School of Public Service
College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

DePaul University

Dr. Euan Hague

Dr. Euan Hague
Professor, Director of School of Public Service
Geography and GIS, Sustainable Urban Development
School of Public Service
College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences
DePaul University

Never not Organizing: Long Resistance and the Fight Against Gentrification in Pilsen, Chicago
Winifred Curran and Euan Hague

A Research Agenda for Gentrification (2023) | Edited by Winifred Curran and Leslie Kern, Edward Elgar Publishing Limited

Resistance is not about any one project or tactic, but rather is a constellation of practices and events that creates an alternative of what a neighborhood could be and who it should serve. This requires what we call “long resistance,” a sustained and multi-faceted engagement with community-building and contestation that utilizes a full array of tools in the community organizing toolbox, from direct action to electoral politics. In Never not Organizing, Winifred Curran and Euan Hague, Professors at DePaul University, illustrate one such case of long resistance by detailing the history of struggle at one site in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, a predominantly Mexican-American neighborhood on the lower west side. Through decades of activism around housing justice, activists have reshaped the conversation around urban development, leading to successful organization against market rate housing and the city’s commitment to build affordable housing on the site.

Offering a new theoretical framework for understanding gentrification and displacement, A Research Agenda for Gentrification focuses on resistance as the central research area in this subject field. Arguing that the future of gentrification research should focus on accomplishing the end of gentrification, chapters provide practical organizing and policy strategies using international case studies which are rooted in community-based research.

Dr. Winifred Curran is an urban geographer. Her research has focused on understanding the effects of gentrification on the urban landscape, looking at labor, industrial retention, policing, environmental gentrification and the gendering of urban policy. She is the author if Gender and Gentrification (Routledge 2018) and co-editor, with Trina Hamilton, of Just Green Enough: Urban Development and Environmental Gentrification.

Professor Euan Hague is a cultural and urban geographer with interests in gentrification, urban activism, Confederate commemoration, and cultural relationships between Scotland and America. His work examines how Chicago’s cultural and urban landscapes have developed historically and are continuing to change and he lives in that city where he regularly engages in community-based research and collaboration with local non-profit organizations. Dr. Hague’s recent work includes partnerships with the Pilsen Alliance, the Chicago Furniture Bank, and the DC-based food justice organization, Roots for Life.

By |2023-09-18T17:07:31-04:00September 13th, 2023|NACC Member Research|
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