Tag Archives: strategic planning

Learning in Action: NonProfit Strategic Planning

Our Learning in Action series highlights stories of students outside the classroom, implementing their skills in a real-life environment. Heather Vanderslice, a student in our online MPA program, shared her story with The Leaders’ Lounge.

VandersliceIn addition to her full-time work for the Virginia Farm Bureau, Heather currently serves as a strategic planning consultant for the Center to End Adolescent Substance Abuse (CEASE). She’s been able to put her classroom learning into action since she met CEASE founder Jeannie Armstrong. While networking with Jeannie, Heather made some suggestions as the two talked about CEASE, and Jeannie was impressed!

“When I mentioned I had some classroom experience with strategic planning through Villanova, Jeannie was thrilled. We’ve been working together ever since. The members of the board have impressive work experience, and many have advanced degrees, but what I’ve learned through my Villanova classes has allowed me to make real contributions despite my limited knowledge of substance abuse cycles.”

Heather feels a connection to the CEASE mission, which has inspired her work with the organization. She’s had the opportunity to help CEASE in a variety of ways:

“My main areas of focus thus far have been building the board, increasing awareness and goal setting, but we are moving into fundraising and creating action plans for the coming year. Per the last board meeting, we are starting a crowd funding campaign for the end of the year. We would love to have more website traffic so people better understand how the organization helps at-risk children.”

A highlight of her experience with CEASE is the opportunity to collaborate. Balancing short and long-term goals has been one of the prominent challenges.

“So far the best part of my work is being able to use the diverse talents of the board to create workable strategies. In my opinion, this collaboration shows that the organization can achieve greatness with the right plans in place and the dedication to follow them. The most challenging part of my work is helping board members tackle immediate challenges like resource acquisition while keeping in mind the long term goals of the organization.”

Working with CEASE has offered Heather a unique opportunity to put her classroom learning into practice.

“I believe I have used knowledge or skills from every class I’ve taken in some capacity. In fact, being in this position has helped me realize that to be an effective public administrator, you cannot only be good in one area. Instead, you must be well-versed in finance, management, strategic planning, theory, analysis, and leadership. Nonprofit challenges require comprehensive solutions.”

Have an example of learning in action that you’d like to share with The Leaders’ Lounge? Email Shanna Lodge to have your story included in this series.

Learning in Action: Effective Nonprofit Management Students Present Strategic Plan

As our students and alumni know, Villanova’s MPA professors are dedicated to providing students with applicable knowledge in the program’s coursework.  One of the four goals of our mission is to “Emphasize the importance of practical experience.”

The Leaders’ Lounge is excited to introduce a new series of articles that we’re calling Learning in Action. Over the next few months this semester, we’ll be bringing you stories of students outside the classroom, implementing their skills in a real-life environment.

To start things off, here’s an example of Effective Nonprofit Management students putting their coursework into action in the workplace:

ACE Dinner Attendees
Students Stephanie Myers, Bernadette Smith, Justin Evert, and Lany Villalobos, and Dr. Catherine Wilson with the ACE Steering Committee at Maggiano’s Little Italy.

As a final project for MPA 8600: Effective Nonprofit Management this past fall, four students developed a strategic plan for Advancing Civics Education (ACE), an initiative of the Philadelphia Bar Association. The students worked closely with ACE Steering Committee members, engaging in weekly conference calls to research and develop an appropriate strategic plan. At the end of the project, the students presented their plan in class, with several members of the Steering Committee in attendance. The students were then invited to present their findings to the full ACE Steering Committee and three Philadelphia judges – Judge Ramy Djerassi, Judge John Younge, and Judge Genece Brinkley – at a dinner at Maggiano’s Little Italy.

Effective Nonprofit Management was Stephanie Myers’s first course in the program. “We worked for several months on this project, sometimes becoming frustrated, but never giving up,” Stephanie said. “In the end, we learned that a well-crafted strategic plan was the key to ACE’s success moving forward.” In addition, Stephanie found that the project allowed the students to establish valuable professional connections, broadening their networks. “Professionalism and perseverance will go a long way in public administration,” she said, “and might even get you a dinner with some of Philadelphia’s best attorneys!”

Have an example of learning in action that you’d like to share with The Leaders’ Lounge? Email Shanna Lodge to have your story included in this series.