The Center for Nonprofit Strategy and Management's newsletter features short pieces exploring timely issues facing nonprofit organizations today, and profiles students, alumni, and faculty whose work advances CNSM's mission of community engagement, teaching, and research.

The newsletter below features five stories:

  • The essence of a public conversation at Baruch last fall with the new President of the Ford Foundation;
  • A summary of research by one of our faculty members on international organizations that are located in New York City;
  • An article by the School's internship coordinator Michael Feller on the important roles that internships play for students and agencies;
  • Our former colleague Fred Lane's succinct summary of the key dimensions of leadership by nonprofit executive directors;
  • An interview with MPA alumna Allison Sesso, who has just moved into an important Executive Director position in New York.

We hope you enjoy the newsletter and that you will be in touch with comments.

Jack Krauskopf, Director - May 28, 2014

Conversation with Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation
By Michael Seltzer, Distinguished Lecturer

On November 19, 2013, the Center for Nonprofit Strategy and Management hosted Darren Walker as he made his first major set of public remarks to the City's nonprofit community since he assumed the presidency of the Ford Foundation. Darren is the first public university graduate and Southerner to occupy the post of president of the nation's second largest foundation. In a free-flowing conversation with Dean David Birdsell, Darren talked about growing up in Louisiana and Texas, the Ford Foundation's early influence on his life, and the current social justice environment.

He recounted how he had personally benefited from advances that the Ford Foundation pioneered. Darren was born in a small town in a charity hospital where blacks and poor whites went. His mother raised him, and his grandmother worked as a domestic. He was a graduate of the first Head Start cohort – which grew out of Ford Foundation-supported research on early child development at Yale. Eventually, his mother moved his sister and him to Texas, where she had an opportunity for a better job and a better life for her family. After high school, he attended a large land grant university –thanks to Pell grants, another Ford Foundation-supported intervention.

Upon arriving in New York, he initially worked on Wall Street. In looking for something meaningful to do, he volunteered at the Children's Storefront, an independent tuition-free school in Harlem. Soon, he became a full-time employee at the Abyssinian Development Corporation. He became a ready convert to the dream of civic leaders such as Rev. Calvin Butts and Karen Phillips that Harlem could be a very different kind of community, a community that could regenerate itself from within.

In his remarks, while acknowledging that it's easy to be dismayed by the current state of social justice in our country and around the world, he reminded the overflowing audience of the remarkable progress we have made.

"There was a time, not too long ago, when every indicator of social mobility for low income and marginalized communities was improving — employment among urban black males in the 1990s saw tremendous gains, we saw significant reductions in the level of homelessness, and more African-Americans and Latinos were matriculating to institutions of higher education. From the early 1960s through the 1990s, we saw progress. We've fallen back some, so it's particularly important that we remember that history and not be discouraged. …We have faced these problems before and made huge progress in addressing them, and we can do so again."

He expressed confidence in our ability to make a tremendous difference in the lives of poor and vulnerable people, and reminded us all of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.'s admonition, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."

Michael Seltzeris a Distinguished Lecturer at Baruch College's School of Public Affairs and a Faculty Fellow at the Center for Nonprofit Strategy and Management. He served as a program officer at the Ford Foundation where his responsibility encompassed promoting organized philanthropy and the nonprofit sector worldwide. He also served as the third CEO of what is now known as Philanthropy New York. His book, Securing Your Organization's Future: A Complete Guide to Fundraising Strategies, won the first Terry Adam award from the Alliance for Nonprofit Management.

What does New York City's International Nonprofit Sector look like?
By Cristina M .Balboa, Assistant Professor and Ava Berman, MPA student

New York City has long been considered a global city, but what does this mean for the non-profit sector? New research being done by Baruch School of Public Affair's Center for Nonprofit Strategy and Management aims to answer that question by examining the international non-governmental organization (INGO) sector in New York City.

Using 2009 IRS form 990 data from the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS), we have created a database of all organizations who claimed their primary focus to be "international" (as per their selection of NTEE code Q). First, there are more international nonprofits in NYC than in any other major city. NYC is home to 946 INGOs, outnumbering even Washington D.C. with its 867 organizations.Next, when we consider the revenue of these organizations, New York City's INGOs have a much higher percentage of large (defined by revenue over $2 million) INGOs compared to the U.S. sector as a whole.

Previous research done by Reid and Kerlin (2006) on INGOs in the U.S. divided the population of organizations into three categories:

  • International Development and Assistance (IDA) organizations that send funds and assistance abroad to help with a broad range of development goals
  • International Affairs (IA) organizations big and small that focus on international affairs issues such as trade, peace, national security and support of the United Nations
  • International Understanding (IU) organizations that foster an appreciation of other cultures and societies

When we compare the distribution of national versus NYC organizations within these three categories we see that New York City is unique compared to the rest of the United States (see figure 2). Does the NYC sector's proportionately high focus on creating international understanding mean it has carved out a niche nationally?

What can data like this do for the nonprofit sector in NYC? Could it help focus funding or capacity building efforts for INGOs in the city? The Center for Nonprofit Strategy and Management will use the complete report to create both a more informed INGO sector as well as a strategic research agenda.

Cristina Balboa is an Assistant Professor at Baruch College's School of Public Affairs and the Center for Nonprofit Strategy and Management. In the past two decades, she has worked both as practitioner in and scholar of conservation nongovernmental organizations. Cristina's research focuses on how to help transnational non-governmental organizations run more effectively, efficiently, and equitably. Her most recent article "How Successful Transnational NGOs Set Themselves up for Failure on the Ground" (in World Development Februrary 2014) examines the importance of context-specific capacity for NGO effectiveness.

Works cited
Reid, E. J. and J. A. Kerlin (2006). The International Charitable Nonprofit Subsector in the United States: International Understanding, International Development and Assistance, and International Affairs. T. U. Institute. Washington DC, The Urban Institute.

Internships for Students at the School of Public Affairs
By Michael Feller

Learning by doing is a time-honored approach to passing practical knowledge from one generation to the next, for connecting theory to practice. The Baruch College School of Public Affairs offers high-value internships in both its graduate and undergraduate degree programs. While we recognize there has been recent controversy over unpaid internships, SPA believes that carefully planned internships managed as a three-way partnership between the student, the host organization and the schools is an integral part of a thorough education in the field of public affairs. All SPA internships are completed for course credit and are unpaid, with the exception of the Hagedorn Program. Our internships provide significant benefits for each of the participants:


  • Learn professional skills and how to function in the workplace
  • Begin to develop a network
  • Test settings for potential careers

Nonprofit organizations

  • Strengthen organizational capacity and programs
  • Develop strategic relationships with colleges and universities

School of Public Affairs

  • Build partnerships with organizations active in the fields served
  • Encourage the exchange of ideas by sharing research findings and best practices

Graduate Programs

Beginning 32 years ago, our partnership with National Urban Fellows has trained individuals for leadership roles in the public and nonprofit sectors through a fourteen month program that combines a full-time mentorship at a leading nonprofit organization, foundation or government agency in cities around the country with coursework leading to a Master of Public Administration degree. Other longstanding graduate internships include programs in higher education for future college administrators and individuals seeking New York State certification as School Building Leaders and School District Leaders.

The SPA in DC Program provides an opportunity for MPA candidates to spend a semester living and working in Washington, DC while earning academic credit for courses taught by SPA faculty. This year twelve students are working at the U.S. Department of Commerce, a congressional office on Capitol Hill, the Center for American Progress, the ACLU of the Nation's Capital, the National Association of Latino Elected Officials and several other nonprofit organizations.

Undergraduate Programs

SPA also offers numerous internship opportunities for undergraduate students studying for the Bachelor of Science in Public Affairs degree. The Nonprofit Leadership Alliance is a national organization dedicated to developing a workforce that meets the specialized needs of the nonprofit sector. The NLA program includes a three-credit course, a 300 hour internship and participation in a national conference. Students who successfully complete the program receive the Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP) credential based on achieving 10 core competencies that have been identified as critical to success in the sector.

The Hagedorn Internship Program provides a $1,500 stipend for undergraduate students to complete a 150 hour internship at a nonprofit organization during the semester, as well as a 3-credit course. This program was funded by a generous grant from Baruch alumna Amy Hagedorn.
Numerous SPA students plan to work in government following graduation and there are several opportunities for these young people to gain experience in the public sector. The New York City Council Internship Program combines an eight week internship with a course taught by a former council member. Each spring semester, several SPA students participate in the New York State Senate and Assembly Internship Programs. They receive a stipend from both the legislature and the City University of New York to support their living expenses in Albany while earning 15 course credits.

For further information, please contact Assistant Professor Michael Feller

Dr. Michael Feller developed and implemented nationally recognized global programs as President of the J.P. Morgan Chase Foundation and Senior Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility. His work at the School of Public Affairs focuses on professional development in the nonprofit sector. He directs the Hagedorn Internship Program for undergraduates and the SPA in DC Internship Program for graduate students, as well as managing executive programs for United Neighborhood Houses.

The Role of the Executive Director: The 12 Dimensions of Effective Nonprofit Leadership
By Frederick S. Lane

Leadership is all about influencing others to achieve shared goals in nonprofit organizations. Current and prospective nonprofit executive directors often ask me: "What is expected of a nonprofit CEO?" or "What should someone in the role of executive director actually do?" My synthesis of scholarly research and practitioner commentary about nonprofit chief executives have led me to the following 12 dimensions of effective leadership by executive directors:

  1. To lead a consensus regarding purpose. The focus here is on goal setting and participative planning. A nonprofit CEO is inevitably the chief planner for an organization. A widely-accepted mission statement and an approved strategic plan for a nonprofit fit here.
  2. To orchestrate governance and the board. Here the CEO forms a partnership with the board of directors and works to educate and engage board members.
  3. To work with the organization's many stakeholders. An important part of any CEO's role centers on relationships, using both formal and informal networks. An ED works with people, both inside and outside the organization. This includes partnerships and collaborations with other organizations across all three sectors of society.
  4. To mobilize sufficient resources to accomplish the organization's mission. Like it or not, an ED is the chief fundraiser for any nonprofit. With the development and program staff, the ED needs to pursue a balanced portfolio of revenues for the organization.
  5. To manage the organization's image. The ED is typically the principal spokesperson for an organization. An ED must promote and protect the reputation of an organization as well as build outside understanding and support.
  6. To monitor, assess, and improve the organization's performance. Nonprofits are almost always focused on the delivery of services—human, health care, educational and cultural services. While the ED rarely engages in direct service delivery, s/he must make sure that quality services benefit their intended clients.
  7. To create a supportive working environment. To be effective, any organization requires a positive working environment. This enables staff and volunteers to work to achieve the organization's mission.
  8. To monitor changes in the organization's environment and exploit opportunities. We live in a fast-paced world. Political, social, economic, technological, and environmental change is a constant, and nonprofits need to adapt. When necessary, an ED needs to gather support for change in an organization.
  9. To build an effective management team. Attracting a talented, diverse team of key staff is central to the leadership of any organization. Any ED needs to provide structure and guidance for staff.
  10. To manage resources efficiently and effectively. This means money, human resources, facilities and technology. Regarding finances, this includes the budget, cash flow, and the annual audit.
  11. To sometimes accept partial solutions. Too many nonprofit EDs are perfectionists. Yet, many times compromise and incremental change are the best we can do in our complex, nuanced, well-intended organizations.
  12. To manage yourself. Any ED needs to have an agenda, and focus attention and use time accordingly. EDs also need to balance their work and personal lives.

Fred's Reading Recommendations for EDs: (1) Richard D. Heimovics, Robert D. Herman, and Carole L. Jurkiewicz, "The Political Dimension of Effective Nonprofit Executive Leadership," in Nonprofit Management and Leadership, V (Spring, 1995), pages 233-248. (2) Mim Carlson and Margaret Donohue, The Executive Director's Guide to Thriving as a Nonprofit Leader, 2nd edition (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2010).

Fred Lane is Professor Emeritus of Public Affairs at Baruch College and a Faculty Fellow at the Center for Nonprofit Strategy and Management. Arguably he was the first faculty member in an accredited American school of business or public administration to teach a graduate course specifically in the management of nonprofit organizations. While appreciating the role of boards, staff and other stakeholders in nonprofit organizations, Fred often focuses on an executive-centered model of leadership in charities. We asked Fred to elaborate on the dimensions of the key role of the executive director. –Nicole Marwell, Academic Director, CNSM

Alumni Profile: Alison Sesso, MPA
Current position: Executive Director, Human Services Council.

Interviewed by Jesse Brooks, Graduate Assistant in the Center

How did your time at SPA shape your philosophy on human services?
I would say that SPA taught me to think with two brains. First, what is the best policy approach? How does economics impact public policy? How does the tax structure impact the human services system or the people who are poorest among us? SPA pushed me to think about how to formulate policy and think analytically about the best approach. At the same time, SPA taught me to think about the political realities of policy making. Even if you have the best potential answer to a problem in terms of a policy solution, if the political realities aren't lined up at the same time you're not going to get it implemented. You need to make compromises on those approaches. How do you come up with the best potential answer in terms of what would work to solve a problem while still being able to implement it?

Tell us about your organization, the Human Services Council. What are the benefits of membership?
HSC is a membership-based association of nonprofit human services providers, primarily based in NYC but looking toward statewide expansion. We have a social justice conscience, so in addition to our primary focus, improving and streamlining the way nonprofits interact with government, we also take a role in addressing the underlying issues that force people to seek help from nonprofits and the barriers that prevent effective service delivery once they come in. For example, on issues like affordable housing and poverty, why do people need help, what are the underlying issues? We take a supporting role in answering those types of questions but in the end we're a nonprofit human services industry advocate. If an organization is a member of HSC they will be informed about policies that impact their everyday work. Their perspective, their voice and their concerns become part of the public policy debate. We have excellent access to government officials and present policy solutions based on member feedback. We also facilitate great opportunities for collaboration between organizations. We also provide free training in subjects like lobbying laws and racial equity.

You mentioned affordable housing. What are your thoughts on the recent proposal by Mayor de Blasio?
We're supportive of it. Affordable housing is clearly an issue in this city. It's preventing so many of our members from being able to move clients forward. For instance, if domestic violence survivors leave and can't find affordable housing, often they go back to their abusers. The homeless services sector can't get people out of shelters and into permanent housing if there's no affordable housing. Even people in the workforce sector, finding someone a job is one thing but finding them a job that allows them to afford housing in this city is much tougher. It hits so many different sectors.

What do you hope to accomplish in your new job as Executive Director of HSC?
I would like to improve the public's understanding of the nonprofit sector. I don't think that there is a common definition or understanding. First, people tend to make incorrect assumptions about where human services providers get their funding. The majority of my members get the majority of funding from government. Second, I want to make a strong case for the role that nonprofits play in our economy. Nonprofits are huge employers and purchasers of goods and services. Those facts are often lost and people don't realize the role nonprofits play in the economy. People know that nonprofits help people get jobs and move their lives forward, but many don't realize the extent to which these organizations are actually providing the jobs themselves and acting as career ladders for people who we serve. I'd also like to see nonprofits be more politically active. I think there's a misconception that a 501c(3) designation means that an organization can't engage at all politically, which isn't true. There are just specific rules they have to follow. Partisanship, direct campaign or party giving and endorsements aren't allowed, but nonprofits should have political opinions and relationships with elected officials. These are the people who make human services policy, so nonprofit engagement with them is critical.

What role did HSC and partner organizations play in the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy? What lessons did HSC and the nonprofit community learn from the storm?
In general the nonprofit and human services communities are largely forgotten and unseen first responders. Everyone always thinks of police and fire and other uniform workers but nonprofits step in almost immediately as well. They provide food, shelter, water, batteries, blankets, candles, and other supplies. More importantly, when the cameras stop rolling and the long term recovery is going on, it's nonprofits that help families get back on their feet. Nonprofits help families figure out their insurance paperwork and FEMA claims, provide free legal services and temporary housing. If people are undocumented, they're not in any system and nonprofits are often the only ones helping them. There is still recovery going on and nonprofits are still working and will probably be helping people recover from Sandy for another year. One of the roles we play at HSC is to elevate the work of nonprofits post-disaster. In terms of the lessons learned: we need a comprehensive disaster preparedness program in advance of a disaster. There needs to be as much planning in place as possible so that when a disaster happens it's as clear as possible who's playing what role, how different systems communicate, how the nonprofit sector is going to work with government, how to coordinate relief money, etc. All of those conversations need to happen in advance of a disaster. We know that this will speed recovery, helping business reopen and people move on with their lives. It's of huge benefit to the economy to recover faster and we can recover faster with a comprehensive disaster plan in place. I'm very pleased that HSC received a grant from UJA to do disaster preparedness and we already have started figuring out what the plans for the sector could be. We had state funding for this a number of years ago but lost it. I'm hoping to get government to invest in disaster preparedness as well.

Recent CNSM Faculty Publication
Cristina Balboa. 2014. "How Successful Transnational NGOs Set Themselves Up for Failure Abroad." World Development 54: 273-287.
John Casey. 2013. "Cosmopolitan Leadership for International Collaborations." Journal of Leadership Studies, 7,1 (Special Edition - Symposium on Nonprofit Collaborations): 70-75. John Casey. 2013. "Hybrid Discourses on Social Enterprise: Unpacking the Zeitgeist." Vol. 1, pp. 71-90 in Social Entrepreneurship, ed. Thomas Lyons, Thomas. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO/Praeger.
Els de Graauw, Shannon Gleeson, and Irene Bloemraad. 2013. "Funding Immigrant Organizations: Suburban Free Riding and Local Civic Presence." American Journal of Sociology 119(1): 75-130.
Nicole P. Marwell and Aaron Gullickson. 2013. "Inequality in the Spatial Allocation of Social Services: Government Contracts to Nonprofit Organizations in New York City." Social Service Review 87: 319-353.
Howard Lune and Edward Queen, editors. 2013. Special symposium issue (42, 5) of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly: "How Values Shape and Are Shaped by Nonprofit and Voluntary Organizations."