As executive director of the Atlanta Hospital Hospitality House, Melissa Ehrhardt had attended many leadership conferences and assumed they were all much the same.

The Executive Leadership Program for Nonprofit Professionals at the University of Georgia proved her wrong.

“I was beyond surprised and grateful to find that the UGA ELPNO was like nothing I had ever experienced before,” Ehrhardt said. “I learned more in one week at ELPNO of what is expected of me as an executive director than I had in a year at my job. I walked away with more confidence and excitement in what I get to do.”

Ehrhardt and 24 other nonprofit professionals from Georgia and neighboring states took part in the annual conference, held at the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach.

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

The week-long program explores national trends, best practices and frameworks for strategic leadership. Faculty from UGA and around the nation lead sessions on topics like governance, revenue development, financial stewardship, ethics and nonprofit leadership competencies.

“We gear the program content towards existing and emerging leaders in nonprofits who influence their organization’s mission, strategy, programming and policy,” said Julie Meehan, a Fanning Institute faculty member. “By developing their individual leadership skills and exploring the latest trends and tools in the nonprofit world, ELPNO graduates not only enhance their personal leadership abilities, they leave prepared to build stronger organizations.”

Board governance, financial training and fundraising are three topics that Ehrhardt said she would put into practice out of ELPNO.

“As a new executive director in the nonprofit world, all of those things were foreign to me,” she said. “I did not understand them or my role with them. I am excited to be able to implement the information I gained into my organization and help take us to another level. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to attend ELPNO.”

In 11 years, over 250 nonprofit professionals representing more than 200 organizations have completed ELPNO.

“Connecting with other ELPNO alumni opens the door to resources, advice and perspective that benefits new graduates and those who completed the program years ago,” said Sayge Medlin, Fanning Institute faculty member. “That support just serves to help nonprofit leaders grow even more.”

Program graduates for 2019, their nonprofits and hometown, include:

  • Glorivee Cruz-Velazquez, Goodwill of North Georgia, Decatur
  • Melissa DaSilva, Jewish Family and Career Services, Atlanta
  • Melissa Ehrhardt, Atlanta Hospital Hospitality House, Atlanta
  • TeCori Elder-Scott, 3DE, LLC, Clarkston (Dekallb county)
  • Jack Gafford, Gratitude America, Temple
  • David Garcia, The Mission Continues, Decatur
  • Lyndsy Greene, After-School All-Stars, Atlanta
  • Jeff Homan, Georgia Charter Schools Association, Griffin
  • Scott Johnson, The Warrior Alliance, Sandy Springs
  • Nina Johnson, J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, Athens
  • Angela Kiminas, Hands On Thomas County, Thomasville
  • Bettina Lyons, Hephzibah Behavioral Health Services, Macon
  • Albert Masland, Jr., Travis Manion Foundation, Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Randy McCall, Healthy Savannah, Savannah
  • Paul Miller, Goodwill of North Georgia, Decatur
  • LaTonda Milner, Georgia Humanities Council, Atlanta
  • Crystal Nasir, KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program), Atlanta
  • Tenise Newberg, Camp Sunshine, Decatur
  • Paula Scotman, New American Pathways, Inc., Grayson
  • Maya Selber, Jewish Kids Group Foundation, Atlanta
  • Anna Suarez, Harry Chapin Foodbank, Fort Myers, Florida
  • Tarin Tripp, Hope Haven, Athens
  • Jarrad Turner, The Warrior Alliance, Sandy Springs
  • Youlanda Upkins, YMCA of Metro Atlanta – Early Childhood Development Company, Atlanta
  • Janet Walden, Hall/Dawson CASA, Gainesville

The application period for ELPNO 2020, which will take place from Jan. 12–17, 2020, opens on June 1.

Writer: Charlie Bauder; 706-542-7039; charlie.bauder@fanning.uga.edu