When Goodwill of North Georgia sought to develop leaders at all levels of its organization, it turned to a nonprofit executive leadership program housed at the University of Georgia.

Each year since 2010, Goodwill of North Georgia has enrolled several employees in the Executive Leadership Program for Nonprofit Organizations (ELPNO) at UGA, a partnership between the UGA J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University, and the Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The weeklong program explores national trends, best practices and frameworks for strategic leadership. Session topics include governance, revenue development, financial stewardship, ethics and nonprofit leadership competencies.

So far, 21 Goodwill employees have completed the program, and a number have earned higher positions in the organization as a result.

“Staff members who have completed the program come back with a new outlook on their work,” said Elaine Armstrong, vice president of marketing for Goodwill of North Georgia. “They have a deeper understanding of the nonprofit landscape and how Goodwill fits into it. There is also no denying the impact of the personal development piece of ELPNO. Since graduating, we have promoted a number of staff, and they lead with both confidence and competence.”

In all, Goodwill of North Georgia has sent 21 employees through ELPNO, including Shereen Ashtiani, regional manager for community development, who graduated from the program in 2018.

“I have always been focused on certain parts of Goodwill of North Georgia because it is such a large organization, but ELPNO allowed me to spend time learning about the big picture of operating a nonprofit,” Ashtiani said. “Because of that, I am thinking more globally about the organization in regards to my position, and I am able to use that in working with and leading others.”

Applicants are admitted into the program based on their role in their nonprofit organization, their professional achievement and the extent to which they can show the impact participation ELPNO will have on their organizational and professional aspirations.

“The ELPNO curriculum cultivates stronger leaders who walk away with practical strategies they can apply to advance the health and sustainability of their organizations,” said Julie Meehan, a Fanning Institute public service assistant who works with ELPNO. “Nonprofits cultivating leaders at all levels throughout the organization serve their stakeholders and communities more efficiently and effectively.”

For organizations like Goodwill of North Georgia, Armstrong said ELPNO has provided a tremendous return on the investment.

“I highly encourage other organizations to take full advantage of what ELPNO provides,” Armstrong said. “Rarely do you come across a program that offers the depth of content this program does. ELPNO is the type of program that will lay the foundation for a strong nonprofit community in Georgia and beyond.”

The deadline to apply for ELPNO 2019 is November 15, 2018. Space is limited and faculty members review all program applications.

For more information, visit www.elpno.org or call Diane Southwood at 706-542-0159.

Writer: Charlie Bauder, Charlie.Bauder@fanning.uga.edu, 706.542.7039