A leadership program at the University of Georgia continues to build a stronger nonprofit community equipped to address the state’s critical issues.

Nineteen nonprofit leaders from around Georgia graduated from the 2020 Executive Leadership Program for Nonprofit Organizations (ELPNO), held in January at the UGA J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, a unit of Public Service and Outreach.

“ELPNO empowered me as a leader to step out of my area of expertise and grow with the help of a strong class of fellow nonprofit leaders,” said Eileen Price, CEO of In The City Camps. “I gained invaluable knowledge and expertise that I will invest back into my organization.”

Throughout the week-long program, ELPNO participants focus on developing their personal leadership skills and learning how to apply those skills in the day-to-day operations of their organization.

“We work with nonprofit leaders to help them discover who they are as a leader and how to best apply that to work with colleagues and their communities to find innovative solutions to community challenges,” said Julie Meehan, Fanning Institute public service faculty member.

Running a nonprofit requires a unique skill set and learning to apply those skills appropriately is also key, said Sayge Medlin, Fanning Institute public service faculty member.

“For example, nonprofits need different things from their leadership depending on their size and where the organization is in its lifecycle,” Medlin said. “A nonprofit leader must not only understand that, but also be able to identify what those different leadership needs are and how best to provide them for the benefit of the organization’s mission. All of those topics are covered in ELPNO.”

ELPNO participants also network with other nonprofit leaders and build relationships with their classmates.

“Bringing this group together through the ELPNO experience will expand our work by giving us ideas that will not only help us advance personally, but also benefit our organizations,” said Steven Mueller, operations director for the Georgia Mountain Food Bank. “I received valuable knowledge from people that I needed to hear at this point in my career, but had not been exposed to.”


That networking not only helps build stronger organizations, but stronger individual leaders as well.

“It was great to connect with peers that are also in our role,” said Jewell Gooding, executive director of Mental Health America of Georgia. “Nonprofit leaders need a sense of community because the work can be lonely sometimes. ELPNO helped me to see myself the way that others see me. I will take away so much from this community and this curriculum.”

Over the course of 13 years, over 260 nonprofit professionals representing more than 200 organizations have completed ELPNO.

“The social sector plays a crucial role in helping communities address challenges across Georgia,” said Matt Bishop, director of the Fanning Institute. “Through ELPNO, nonprofit leaders are equipped with the skills and knowledge to return to their organizations and make them better, building a stronger Georgia.”

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

The next ELPNO will take place in January 2021.

For more information, click here.

ELPNO 2020 graduates

  • Nairika Cornett, Quinlan Visual Arts Center, Gainesville;
  • Joe Feinberg, Georgia State University, Atlanta;
  • Zach Fields, Construction Education Foundation of Georgia, Roswell;
  • Olivia Garrison, The Warrior Alliance, Atlanta;
  • Jewell Gooding, Mental Health America of Georgia, Atlanta;
  • Greg Hill, Aurora Day Camp, Atlanta;
  • Pam Holmes, Tri-County CASA Inc., Baxley;
  • Mary Joyce, Children First, Inc., Athens;
  • Emily Laney, New American Pathways, Atlanta;
  • Kendria Lewis, Goodwill of North Georgia, Decatur;
  • Paula Malmfeldt, CASA of Forsyth County, Inc., Cumming;
  • Steven Mueller, Georgia Mountain Food Bank, Gainesville;
  • Eileen Price, In The City Camps, Atlanta;
  • Amanda Puche, Georgia State University, Atlanta;
  • Raychel Robbins, The Atlanta Jewish Music Festival, Norcross;
  • Shirley Anne Smith, Atlanta Fire Rescue Foundation, Inc., Atlanta;
  • Randell Trammell, Georgia Center for Civic Engagement, Cartersville;
  • Cameron Turner, Atlanta Community Food Bank Inc., Atlanta;
  • Julie Wade, Park Place Outreach, Inc., Savannah