Mastering Nonprofit Leadership

Strong nonprofit leadership matters, especially during a crisis.

by Brad McMillan, Bradley University
McMillan, center, with Anthony Rush, director of youth services at Children’s Home, and Kirstin Ringel, volunteer coordinator with Habitat for Humanity, graduates of the Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership program at Bradley University.
McMillan, center, with Anthony Rush, director of youth services at Children’s Home, and Kirstin Ringel, volunteer coordinator with Habitat for Humanity, graduates of the Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership program at Bradley University.

The Community Impact Guide bundled with this edition of Peoria Magazine is filled with the missions, visions and services provided by nonprofit organizations throughout the Tri-County area doing great work for so many in need. Of special note: our local hospitals, Heartland Health Services, Advanced Medical Transport, American Red Cross, food pantries and many other organizations have risen to the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic. Strong nonprofit leadership matters, especially during a crisis—and developing the next generation of nonprofit leaders is vitally important.

Specialized Skills Development
For 27 years at the graduate school level, Bradley University has offered the Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership Program, which develops specialized skills for a variety of nonprofit leadership positions. Through 36 credit-hours of coursework, students build their toolkit for success in the nonprofit sector with courses in strategic planning, financial leadership, grant writing, organizational leadership and human resources, as well as completion of a 150-hour field experience with a nonprofit organization. Classes are scheduled with working professionals in mind, and if someone currently works full-time for a nonprofit organization, they may be eligible for a 50% tuition reduction. 

Some notable graduates of the program include Janet Glavin, community relations manager for Make-A-Wish Foundation of Illinois; Stephen Petersen, vice president of resource development at the Heart of Illinois United Way; Mark Roberts, CEO of the Community Foundation of Central Illinois; Julie Siebert, director of quality improvement at Children’s Home Association of Illinois; and Julie Schifeling, manager of grants and government affairs for Easterseals Central Illinois. 

Practical Endorsements
To highlight the practical leadership skills leatrned in the program, both a recent and current nonprofit graduate student have shared some insights. Deric Kimler, executive director of Central Illinois Friends, has seen his agency go from serving 800 people to 5,000 in the last few years. “The leadership skills learned in this program helped fix our employee review system, revisit our bylaws, strengthened our board and helped develop a new strategic plan,” he states. “The nonprofit leadership program at Bradley is creating important leaders for central Illinois.”

Kirstin Ringel, volunteer coordinator of Habitat for Humanity Greater Peoria Area, credits the grant writing skills learned in the program for helping her to successfully apply for and receive new funding for her organization. “Being able to read financial statements and create ratios to determine the long-term solvency of nonprofit programs is of great value as a leader,” she notes.

Bradley University is committed to preparing highly-skilled administrative nonprofit leaders for the future of central Illinois. PM

Brad McMillan is coordinator of the Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership Program at Bradley University.

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