Tell us about the Center for Nonprofit Strategy and Management. What are some of your most notable accomplishments? What new initiatives are you working on?
Since its official creation in 2007, the Center for Nonprofit Strategy and Management (CNSM) has put the strong commitment of the School of Public Affairs to work for the nonprofit sector in the New York area. Baruch faculty who teach and conduct research about nonprofit organizations have helped to plan and participate in regular monthly seminars we conduct for audiences of nonprofit executives, board members, staff, and consultants. Recent topics have included Managing Growth and Change in Nonprofit Organizations, featuring the CEO of a large social services agency that absorbed and saved many of the programs of another large organization that went bankrupt. We had a seminar with academics from Russia and China about the status of the nonprofit sector in their countries, particularly their relationships with government. Another area of interest has been social enterprise and how to measure social impact of new ventures run by nonprofit organizations.
This month we run our annual Consulting Day, which enables people working in the nonprofit sector to get advice about their specific issues and problems from experienced consultants who provide their time pro bono. The consultants are a mix of Baruch faculty and outside experts with their own technical assistance organizations or individual practices and provide advice about budget and finance, strategic planning, marketing and communications, fundraising, human resources, and many other topics. The more than 25 consultants give a morning or afternoon of their time to meet individually with more than 60 nonprofit participants during the day. The event has been popular with both consultants and participants, and CNSM has held it for more than 10 years.
CNSM also conducts research projects, either requested by nonprofit membership organizations or developed by faculty. Past projects included a study of the financial status of the nonprofit child welfare (foster care) agencies in New York State and a survey, done with Baruch College Survey Research, of nonprofits that responded to the conditions created by Super Storm Sandy in 2012. Requested by the Human Services Council of New York, the Sandy survey led to a project currently underway with the same partners to determine whether nonprofit organizations are prepared internally and in their service provider capacities in their communities to respond to future disasters and to assist in recovery from such events. Another area of strong interest for faculty research is the role of international nongovernmental organizations (INGO's) in New York, leading to a report one year ago about the characteristics and practices of such organizations by Professor Cristina Balboa and colleagues, with further activities to follow. Professor John Casey, who recently published his book The Nonprofit World, has also moderated CNSM seminar about these international organizations.
CNSM involves itself with Public Affairs Week (PAW) each year. How was PAW this past March?
The broad theme of the four sessions of Public Affairs Week this year was the dynamic roles played by nonprofit organizations in major public issues. The first night of PAW on Monday, March 7 featured the founding executive directors of two near-by nonprofits that work on women's education, economic, and empowerment in Latin America and South Africa. Tuesday's session dealt with the future of settlement houses in New York City, hearing from the executive director Henry Street Settlement in the Lower East Side and the author of a book challenging whether settlement houses today are true to their original missions of community organizing and advocacy. The Red Cross and the Media was the subject of a discussion between a New York regional Red Cross board member and a Baruch journalism professor, who emphasized the role of the press in raising questions about whether nonprofit organizations are pursuing their intended missions and the efficiency of their operations. We look forward to contributing ideas for whatever topics emerge for Public Affairs Week next year.
You held the role of Chief Program Officer for the 9/11 United Services Group, which was formed to coordinate social services organizations assisting people affected by the September 11 attacks. What was this like? Were you given the appropriate funds and freedoms to effect the change in the way you felt best suited those affected?
Funding and room to operate were not constraints after 9/11. The primary issues that the 9/11 United Services Group addressed were about how to maximize the collective impact of the many social services agencies with interest, credibility, and capacity for helping victims of the attack. As mutual trust developed, these agencies worked together to effectively use the large amount of resources that came from the generous response of the American public and New York area residents, foundations, and businesses, in particular. We had regular meetings of representatives of 40 agencies of all sizes and purposes to make decisions about services needed, training of frontline workers, outreach to undocumented immigrants, coordination of case management to guide people to the assistance they needed, mental health issues, and technology support. It was an intense, high-pressure time; but it was also a productive and rewarding effort.