Elaine Armstrong still thumbs through the binder she received three years ago while attending the Executive Leadership Program for Non-Profit Organizations (ELPNO) at the University of Georgia.
Armstrong credits the week-long training at the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development for preparing her for a promotion to vice president of marketing at Goodwill Industries of North Georgia a year later.
“I think it gives you a great baseline of nonprofit leadership,” she said. “I took lots of things away, everything from non-profit finance to board governance. I’m in every board meeting now. Being able to understand board governance going into meetings and planning sessions has helped me along the way.”
The partnership between the Fanning Institute, Georgia State University’s Nonprofit Studies Program at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, and Georgia Tech’s Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship wrapped up its 10th year earlier this month. It has now graduated 200 participants from more than 100 organizations.
Fanning Institute Senior Public Service Associate Janet Rechtman, who organizes the week, has been involved with ELPNO since the first workshops were held at Emory University. The program later moved to UGA and continues to churn out success stories like Armstrong.
“Graduates either tend to get promoted or get better jobs,” Rechtman said. “They tend to stay in the non-profit sector. That’s good because ELPNO is about building the sector and saying nonprofits are important.”
Rechtman said many of the organizations she hears from are using ELPNO to develop high-potential leaders. Armstrong’s promotion to the executive team at Goodwill is an example.
Armstrong said she often looks back at her notes, especially when dealing with issues she’s less familiar with like finances. Her week at UGA made her new responsibilities a little less daunting.
“I don’t know a whole lot about construction, but I do know if you have to hang something heavy on a wall, you’ve got to strengthen it,” Armstrong said. “At some point in your career you’re going to have to make a challenging decision or face adversity. That’s when you’re going to look back and draw on what you learned at ELPNO.”