When Jeff Kessner (MPP/MUP '14) joined the Nonprofit and Public Management Center (NPM) last year, he knew he would learn a lot about how nonprofits work. But he didn't know that he would soon be on the board of one.
"I was a Board Fellow last year, and this year they asked me to join the board as a full voting member. So I am actually on the board now as a member and as a peer mentor for the five new Board Fellows."
Kessner is referring to NPM's popular Board Fellowship Program, which places students with local nonprofits as non-voting board members so they can gain hands-on experience with nonprofit management. It is just one of several programs run by NPM—a partnership between the Ford School, the Ross School of Business, and the School of Social Work.
"I think the idea of a board, and the board being the primary vehicle through which an organization is governed, is very unique," Kessner said. "And I don't think enough people have an understanding of what that means."
As a fellow, Jeff joined Nonprofit Enterprise at Work (NEW), a group that provides organizations with management expertise and training. He developed a system for collecting feedback from Ann Arbor area clients and helped update the organization's board governance process.
Ford School faculty Marina Whitman and Megan Tompkins-Stange represent the Ford School on NPM's Faculty Steering Committee, led by Ross School professor David Hess. The committee is currently developing new strategic goals and plans for expansion.
"We aim to sustain and build on the center's outstanding team-based, student-oriented programming while also expanding our support of faculty research and course development on issues related to nonprofit management and social innovation," Tompkins-Stange said of the center's work.
Kessner has two more years of graduate school to earn his dual degree in public policy and urban planning. But if his work with NPM is any indication, that won't stop him from having an impact now.
"Just because you are in grad school doesn't mean the real world stops, and that there's not a need for your skills now."
Below is a formatted version of this article from State & Hill, the magazine of the Ford School. View the entire Fall 2012 State & Hill here.