A long-standing leadership program at the University of Georgia continues to help nonprofit professionals from around Georgia sharpen their personal and organizational leadership skills.

Twenty-five nonprofit leaders attended the 2024 Executive Leadership Program for Nonprofit Organizations Jan. 7-12 at the UGA J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development.

“This was an excellent investment of money and time that exceeded my expectations,” said Michael Hutcheson, executive director of the Rockdale Coalition for Children and Families. “You not only learn the nuts and bolts of running a nonprofit, but you have a chance to build relationships with peers and learn from each other in an interactive and engaging environment.”

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 helped me better understand specific areas like finance and board governance,” Hutcheson said. “Beyond that, because a nonprofit leader wears many different hats, learning ways to better navigate relationships and provide leadership across the organization from the program and peers provided great insights for me.”

Through the program, the UGA Fanning Institute aims to build a curriculum that covers both the technical and interpersonal leadership skills required in the nonprofit world.

“Leading a nonprofit organization requires technical expertise in areas such as budgeting and running a board meeting,” said Sayge Medlin, UGA Fanning Institute public service faculty who helps direct the program. “However, it also requires a leader who can look beyond the present as well as foster collaboration among board members, staff and volunteers who all carry unique perspectives.”

For Ana Robbins, CEO of Jewish Kids Groups, the program provided a chance to reflect.

“It is great to be in a room with peers who understand your work but are not in your organization,” Robbins said. “You have a chance to step away and look in on your organization and reflect with the perspective provided by your fellow classmates to see where you can improve.”

The program intentionally sets out to create that space for participants to reflect and learn from each other.

“These professionals come from all different backgrounds, lead very different organizations and have encountered unique challenges,” said Julie Meehan, UGA Fanning Institute public service faculty who helps direct the program. “They bring those experiences to the program and share them with their colleagues and inevitably, someone else is encountering a similar issue and learns from someone who has been there already.”

That network extends beyond one class, as more than 300 nonprofit leaders from over 200 organizations have completed the program at UGA. Occasional alumni events bring those graduates together to continue learning.

“You build hard skills, develop your peer network and have a chance to really reflect on your work and your organization,” Robbins said. “The Executive Leadership Program for Nonprofit Organizations is a high-level experience well worth someone’s time. Attending will benefit any nonprofit leader.”

2024 Executive Leadership Program for Nonprofit Organizations graduates are:

  • Ariana Berksteiner, Emmaus House, Savannah
  • Ryan Braid, The Marcus Foundation, Atlanta
  • Romaine Byrd, Hire Heroes USA, Bethlehem
  • Ben Cabeza, KIPP Metro Atlanta Schools, Atlanta
  • Amanda Camp, Coweta CASA, Newnan
  • Chad Dillard, United Way of Greater Atlanta, Atlanta
  • Mark Eister, The Warrior Alliance, Kennesaw
  • Cheryl Ewell, Hire Heroes USA, Cumming
  • Barbara Fleming, Center Point GA, Gainesville
  • Bernadette Fortune, Augusta/CSRA Habitat for Humanity, Augusta
  • Robert Gaines, Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, Atlanta
  • Clare Gilbert, Georgia Innocence Project, Atlanta
  • Sarah Hall, redefinED atlanta, Atlanta
  • Asia Harold, Forsyth Farmers Market, Savannah
  • Erin Hernandez, Northwest Georgia Regional Cancer Coalition, Rome
  • Michael Hutcheson, Rockdale Coalition for Children and Families, Conyers
  • Ryan Jones, Neighborhood Cooperative Ministries, Buford
  • Jessica Katz, Jewish Family & Career Services of Atlanta; Atlanta
  • Ashley Lindsay, Children’s Advocacy Center of Lowndes County, Inc., Valdosta
  • Amy Maison, Southern Regional Technical College Foundation, Inc., Thomasville
  • Eric Miller, Newnan-Coweta Habitat for Humanity, Inc., Newnan
  • Jesse Pilkenton, Downtown Ministries, Athens
  • Ana Robbins, Jewish Kids Groups, Atlanta
  • Scott Shelar, Construction Ready, Atlanta
  • Emily Waters, The Warrior Alliance, Cartersville

Applications will open in June for the 2025 Executive Leadership Program for Nonprofit Organizations, scheduled for Jan. 12–17, 2025, at UGA. For more information, click here.

Writer:             Charlie Bauder; 706-542-7039; charlie.bauder@fanning.uga.edu
Contacts:         Sayge Medlin; 706-542-4550; sayge.medlin@fanning.uga.edu
Julie Meehan; 706-542-3264; julie.meehan@fanning.uga.edu