Nonprofit organizations typically form to address an area of need in the community. Leaders of those nonprofits are usually well-versed in the field they serve, but often not equipped with the knowledge and skills required to succeed on the business side of helping people.
Nonprofit leadership is the topic of the first in a series of executive education course offerings from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. “We want to stay ahead of the curve in identifying current trends in executive leadership and tailor the topics to help executives optimize their performance and lead effectively,” said Jayshree Bhat, assistant vice president of UTRGV’s new Office of Professional Education and Workforce Development.
“I have an extensive background of being on boards of nonprofits in the Valley,” Bhat said. “A lot of the nonprofits in the Valley are small organizations established because of a need. And those are the ones that need a lot of support.”
The hybrid course of online and classroom components allows for participants to learn from a broad base of instructors. “While the online component is taught by industry experts from across the country, instructors for the in-class sessions are local practitioners who have been hand-picked for their expertise and knowledge in the nonprofit sector,” Bhat said.
Classroom instructors for the nonprofit leadership course are Elaine Hernandez and Zoila Zambrano. Hernandez, of McAllen, has more than 20 years managing community-based nonprofits of various sizes. Zambrano is a UTRGV doctorate student who has served on top management teams in the nonprofit sector.
Participants with busy schedules work through the online modules at their own pace. The in-class sessions use exercises to tie the online content to real-life situations. “The whole goal with that is to make it as convenient as possible for them to gain the knowledge,” Bhat said. Topics covered include fundraising, board and volunteer development, budgeting and marketing.
The nonprofit leadership program began in early May and will conclude in late June, with eight to 10 participants. Other sectors of the business community will be the focus of future executive education programs.
“We want to look at organizations in the Valley, whether it’s the banking sector or the healthcare sector,” Bhat said. “We really want to build the talent pool for leaders who are at the helm of these types of businesses.”
All the programs will address challenges faced by senior managers, such as leading change, driving performance and developing a leadership mindset.