In her fourth year with the East Lake Foundation in Atlanta, Chief Operating Officer Rhonda Fischer felt the 2017 Executive Leadership Program for Nonprofit Organizations (ELPNO) last January came at just the right time.

“I think the opportunity to step away from the office, at the start of the year for a week, to reflect and think about the strategies I wanted to put in place for the coming year was the biggest tangible benefit for me,” said Fischer. “I rarely – if ever – take time to retreat to plan and reflect, and doing so while gaining and enhancing skills in areas like nonprofit finances, personal leadership, and strategic planning really helped me.”

ELPNO is a partnership between the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development at UGA, the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University, and the Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship at Georgia Tech.

Designed for established and emerging executive leaders at nonprofit organizations, ELPNO gives participants the chance to learn from nationally recognized faculty on topics such as governance and financial leadership, personal leadership, strategic leadership, and resource development strategies.

The program provides nonprofit leaders a chance to reflect on their strengths and ways they can improve, Fischer said.

“ELPNO is a safe, affirming space to really explore all of those things and, as you are doing so, acquire some practical skills to take along your journey,” she explained.

Fischer attended ELPNO this past January with her organization’s communications director, and she said the program helped sharpen their skills and gave them specific tools to take back and use to benefit the East Lake Foundation.

“For example, we learned about how to take the things that come into your email inbox and find a more efficient way to manage through them, so we can ultimately become more effective,” said Fischer. “I attempt to remain mindful of this practice and when I do, I can really see a difference in my work.”

However, she said skill development is not ELPNO’s only benefit.

“The network we were able to develop there, the conversations that happened in the classroom, at dinner, and in the hallways with other people who were doing similar things or have similar roles, was really helpful,” said Fischer.

Fischer has recommended ELPNO to others in the nonprofit world looking to enhance both their personal leadership skills and their organizations.

Visit ELPNO for details about the 2018 Executive Leadership Program for Nonprofit Organizations.