10 Aug 2009
Executives Sharpen Their Nonprofit Strategy at HBS Executive Education Program
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Ron Brummit

SPNM participant
Ron Brummit


Nathlia Mesa

SPNM participant
Nathalia Mesa

BOSTON — More than 150 nonprofit leaders from 18 countries assembled at Harvard Business School in July for the week-long Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management (SPNM) program - one of the School's most popular Executive Education offerings. Launched in 1995, SPNM enables leaders in the nonprofit sector to take a step back from their day-to-day operations, reflect on their organization's mission, and develop new strategic frameworks and implementation plans.

"It is essential for nonprofit leaders to regularly examine their strategies in order to manage shifting demands for services and changing operating environments - especially given the financial pressures of today's difficult economy," said Professor Herman "Dutch" Leonard, Faculty Chair of Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management. "The SPNM program gives nonprofit executive directors the opportunity to reevaluate their mission and goals, and work with HBS faculty to develop skills to strengthen their ability to lead their organizations"

In class, the SPNM leaders engaged in the School's renowned participant-centered learning style of teaching, focusing on case studies about nonprofit leaders facing real-life challenges. In addition, participants benefited from the opportunity to network with peers. This year, SPNM participants ranged in age from 27-62 and were from countries all over the globe, including Canada, China, Guyana, Indonesia, New Zealand, the Republic of Kyrgyzstan, and Venezuela.

Participating organizations have included:

  • American Cancer Society
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
  • Care NZ, Ltd.
  • Goodwill Industries International
  • Habitat for Humanity International, Inc.
  • The Humane Society of the United States
  • International AIDS Vaccine Initiative
  • Mercy Corps
  • Ronald McDonald House Charities
  • Teach For America
  • United Way of America
  • United World Mission
  • YMCA of the Singapore

"SPNM was one of the best professional development opportunities that I have encountered, and was extremely relevant to the work that I do on a daily basis," said past participant Laura Shubilla, President of the Philadelphia Youth Network, Inc. "The other participants stimulated thoughtful dialogue, challenging my perspective on each case discussed. I left the program engaged, reenergized, and equipped with the tools to think more strategically about the roles, responsibilities, and core business of the organization."

SPNM was developed by the HBS Social Enterprise Initiative. HBS offers five focused Social Enterprise Executive Education programs each year, three targeted toward nonprofit leaders (including SPNM), one for corporate leaders, and one for teams of education leaders within urban public school districts. Additionally, HBS has hosted a number of Social Enterprise custom programs with individual organizations and interest groups when their needs have aligned with faculty research interests and areas of focus.

Listen to an interview with two of this year's participants, Nathalia Mesa of Fundacion Carulla in Colombia and Ron Brummit of the Miami Rescue Mission.

Read the Harvard Gazette article about SPNM, featuring Ron Brummitt.

About Harvard Business School

Founded in 1908 as part of Harvard University, Harvard Business School is located on a 40-acre campus in Boston. Its faculty of more than 200 offers full-time​ programs leading to the MBA and doctoral degrees, as well as more than 80 open enrollment Executive Education programs and more than 60 custom programs. For more than a century, HBS faculty have drawn on their research, their experience in working with organizations worldwide, and their passion for teaching to educate leaders who have shaped the practice of business and entrepreneurship around the globe.​​​​