The committee, which will help steer the new bachelor’s degree program, is comprised of established leaders in the nonprofit sector
DENTON (UNT), Texas – The University of North Texas College of Health and Public Service is addressing the growing need for nonprofit professionals with a new undergraduate degree program that will prepare students for careers in the nonprofit sector – and some big names are leading the program’s advisory committee.
“Our faculty have strong relationships with the area’s nonprofit community working closely on some of the region’s most important social issues such as education, homelessness and poverty, arts and culture and disaster response,” said Laura Keyes, degree coordinator and lecturer. “Our students deepen their understanding of social entrepreneurship and philanthropy through internships or charitable work with these nonprofits.”
Texas is home to the second largest number of nonprofit organizations in the nation – behind California – according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, and there’s a strong outlook for jobs in the nonprofit sector. Gary Henderson, president and CEO of United Way of Denton County, says he joined the committee because it’s rare to see universities prepare students in the critical areas of nonprofit administration and resource development to meet that demand.
“Those of us who lead nonprofit organizations know that we are running complex businesses that present both common but also unique challenges,” Henderson said. “It is critical that we train future professionals to step into these roles so our nonprofit organizations can grow to meet the need.”
Henderson says the United Way of Denton County alone places 20 to 25 interns throughout the organization each semester.
“My goal is that those of us serving on the committee who lead nonprofit organizations can provide useful input and ideas that will increase the potential for the win-win opportunity of students benefiting from leading edge instruction and internship experiences,” he said, adding that he hopes the program creates “the opportunity for North Texas nonprofit organizations to benefit from UNT student interns who will bring top notch instruction to our workplaces and, most importantly, to the people we strive to help each and every day.”
The full list of advisory committee members is as follows:
- Jessica DeRoche, director of the North Central Texas College Flower Mound campus
- Tracy Eubanks, CEO of MetroCrest Services and UNT alumnus
- Rebecca Finberg, volunteer resources coordinator for the City of Plano and UNT alumna
- Gary Henderson, president and CEO of United Way of Denton County
- Toni Johnson-Simpson, executive director of Friends of the Family Denton County
- Jane Massey, retired director of neighborhood research and revitalization for Dallas Habitat for Humanity
- Georgina Ngozi, executive director of the Greater Denton Arts Council
- Ann Pape, CEO of Communities In Schools North Texas
Rebecca Finberg, volunteer resources coordinator for the City of Plano and UNT nonprofit advisory committee member, says that as an alumna, she’s especially excited to be a part of UNT’s inaugural nonprofit degree program.
“I see the extraordinary need and benefit of training the future leaders of the nonprofit sector,” Finberg said. “The comprehensive education students will be exposed to will prepare them for key roles within organizations. I want to give back to the programs that paved the way for my future career in public service.”
Finberg, who is a recent MPA graduate, wants to provide her unique and fresh view to the nonprofit program.
“I feel my perspective as a young professional working in public service coupled with my deep pride and appreciation for UNT programs make me appropriately situated to speak to the educational needs of students in this program,” Finberg said. “Young professionals benefit from a comprehensive educational strategy for training the next generation of leaders in public service careers. I hope to bring the perspective of what would have benefited me starting out on my own career path.”
Volunteers are critical to the government sector as well as nonprofits. There is a rising demand for effective volunteers and those who manage them and the organizations they serve. Many major corporations hire in-house volunteer managers and philanthropy professionals to support their charitable goals.
The new bachelor of science degree in nonprofit leadership studies, offered by UNT’s Department of Public Administration, kicks off this fall and will expand on courses already offered through a minor in leadership of community and nonprofit organizations and an academic certificate in volunteer and community resource management.
Courses will be offered in a mix of online and face-to-face classes on the UNT campus in Denton. Students will receive practical nonprofit management experience through a required internship. In addition, Keyes says, students will be well positioned to pursue graduate work in management or public administration, including in UNT’s master of public administration degree program, which offers a specialization in nonprofit management.
“We will address community resources for nonprofits, financial management, leadership theory and practice for volunteer managers, mediation, philanthropy and fundraising, proposal writing and grants administration and public speaking,” Keyes said.
Finberg is looking forward to guiding the next generation of nonprofit leaders.
“My advice would be to expose yourself to a broad perspective of nonprofit functions to best understand how an organization fulfills its mission,” Finberg said. “Learn and live the traits of a transformational leader and be intentional in creating relationships that will benefit your career and the organizations you serve in the future.”