"Very rewarding": Participants and sponsors share how the Executive Leadership Certificate helps nonprofit leaders thrive

"Very rewarding": Participants and sponsors share how the Executive Leadership Certificate helps nonprofit leaders thrive

ELC 2020

The 2020 cohort of the Nonprofit Management Institute's Executive Leadership Certificate program pivoted to an online format mid-year. But participants say they built lasting connections and partnerships that continue well over a year later.

by Alexandra Conforti, ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation

September 8, 2021

“In no other industry do you see so much passion from the leaders for their causes than in the nonprofit sector,” said Eric Majchrzak, chief strategy officer and CEO-elect of BeachFleischman PC. “And it was pretty easy for us when we were presented with the opportunity to partner with the ASU Lodestar Center, because they're providing skill sets that are key and critical to these local nonprofit leaders, and we really wanted to be a part of that and help the nonprofit community just get better.”

Both Majchrzak and Accounting and Assurance Shareholder Eric Maneval of BeachFleischman PC, sponsor of the Nonprofit Executive Leadership Certificate (ELC) program at the ASU Lodestar Center’s Nonprofit Management Institute, noted that the Center’s mission is important to them because “a thriving social sector is equally proportionate to the quality of life we have in our communities, so I can't see a scenario where we wouldn't want to be contributing towards that,” said Majchrzak, who is also on the ASU Lodestar Center's Leadership Council. As part of its sponsorship, the firm offers scholarships to qualified candidates, which has since provided a host of participants with the opportunity to enroll in the prestigious program.

Through its seven courses, the ELC program provides its participants a certificate that is designed to meet the specific professional needs of nonprofit and public organizations’ senior-level managers and emerging executives.This unique curriculum is offered in a cohort format, further promoting personal and team skill-building and peer networking.

BeachFleischman PC formed a little over 30 years ago and has since grown to be one of Arizona’s largest locally owned public accounting and advisory firms. Nonprofit organizations serve as one of their key client bases, with the organization serving over 300 nonprofits across the state. Their team assists the sector with accountability, mitigating risks, tax exempt status, review auditing and other financial statement services.

“That concept of collaboration accelerates success. And so that's why that's important for us, we want to be surrounded by like minded people, and being involved in this program has given us that chance,” Majchrzak said. “Our purpose is that we believe in the power of collaboration, and what it can accomplish, so what better sector to really dig in deep with than the nonprofit sector. It’s purpose-driven. It's very rewarding.”

Jeffrey Petrovic, chief development officer at United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, was a 2020 graduate of the ELC program. He noted that the experience gave him the opportunity to see through the eyes of a CEO and further learn the in and out to board governance. “I really enjoyed the program and learning the different perspectives of nonprofits … I think all around I was able to hone my skills and grow in order to reach the next step and excel,” Petrovic said.

Though the certificate program was interrupted by COVID-19 and transformed into an online-only format, Petrovic said that the cohort was still able to bond, connect and network with each other, and continue to do so today. “It helped me with relationship building within the community and being more in tune with our fellow development officers and development staff.”

Shannon DiPalmo, another 2020 ELC graduate and current vice president of community engagement at CAN Community Health, also applied before the pandemic and was surprised by the smooth and interactive process that the program’s online classes presented. As for personal and professional relationships, DiPalmo said she developed both.

“Concretely, I met classmates who I networked with and am building partnerships and collaborations with in the community right now, which was amazing,” DiPalmo said. “More abstractly, just teaching us the skills on best practices of nonprofit collaboration.”

Added Petrovic, “This program has not only made me a better leader for my department, but has added to my skill set as a community leader. My work as the CDO for United Way of Tucson requires a commitment to the well-being of my fellow community members. This program has given me one more tool in my toolkit to serve my community. I was very proud when I graduated ... I was proud to receive the certificate from ASU.”

The application process for the 2022 ELC cohort has now begun. Learn more and apply by February 14, 2022. Scholarships are available thanks to the support of BeachFleischman PC.