Business & Economy Georgia Impact

Nonprofit leaders expand skills through UGA program

Nonprofit leaders gathered for professional development. (Photo by Shannah Montgomery)

Participants gain an understanding of their own visions as leaders and an increased confidence in their leadership abilities

A University of Georgia program is helping equip current and emerging nonprofit leaders to strengthen their organizations and make a difference in their communities.

Through the Executive Leadership Program for Nonprofit Organizations at the UGA J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, nonprofit leaders from Georgia and around the nation receive leadership and professional development.

“We all left with tools to address challenges in the nonprofit sector,” said Bonnie Holliday, chief strategy officer for the Georgia Charter Schools Association. “The program provided relevant content on topical issues. I have colleagues who attended previously and recommended the program in glowing terms. It lived up to the hype.”

Participants from the 2023 program at UGA have indicated an increase in their understanding of their vision for themselves as a leader and an increased confidence in their leadership abilities.

“A big reinforcement for me was that leaders have to be self-aware,” said Tim Self, executive director of AnMed Health Foundation. “We need to lead with the mission in mind, make space to let others shine and sometimes get out of the way to have the greatest impact.”

Since 2007, the UGA Fanning Institute has led the program in partnership with the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University.

For one week each year, UGA Fanning Institute faculty along with experts from around the country cover all facets of leading a nonprofit organization from learning about one’s personal leadership style to nonprofit finance and problem-solving.

“The program provided expert availability and support on the technical aspects of leading an organization,” Self said. “At the same time, the program has tremendous heart. Leaders must connect the head and the heart to be effective.”

The combination of technical management skills and leadership development skills makes the Executive Leadership Program for Nonprofit Organizations unique in the nonprofit sector, said Julie Meehan, UGA Fanning Institute public service faculty.

“Participants have the chance to translate leadership and nonprofit theory into practice and concepts into strategies that are relevant, immediately practical, and usable to build their organizations,” Meehan said.

Since its beginning in 2007, more than 300 nonprofit leaders from over 200 organizations have attended the Executive Leadership Program for Nonprofit Organizations at UGA.

“Through the alumni network, program graduates are able to continue their education after the initial program, build collaborations across the nonprofit sector and between communities, and develop lasting peer and mentor relationships,” said Sayge Medlin, UGA Fanning Institute public service faculty.

Both Holliday and Self noted the benefits of having a chance to network and connect with peers.

“The ongoing support of this program is so beneficial,” Self said. “I left the program feeling like 24 friends have my back.”

The UGA Fanning Institute will host the 2024 Executive Leadership Program for Nonprofit Organizations from Jan. 7-12, 2024, and applications are open now.

The deadline to apply is Nov. 17. For more information, click here.