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Fox MBA students learn nonprofit governance by sitting on boards

May 5th, 2017 //
Nonprofit executives and MBA students from the Fox School of Business participate in the Fox Board Fellow program.
Nonprofit executives and MBA students from the Fox School of Business participate in the Fox Board Fellow program.

On April 26, nonprofit executives and MBA students from Temple University’s Fox School of Business gathered for breakfast to celebrate a successful year of contribution to the regional nonprofit community. A partnership between Fox Net Impact and the Fox Management Consulting (Fox MC), the Fox Board Fellows (FBF) program places MBA students (Fellows) on the boards of local nonprofit organizations as non-voting members for an academic year through an elective course in nonprofit governance. The program is designed to give business students the opportunity to work with and learn from nonprofit leaders while contributing their time and business skills to benefit local nonprofit boards and committees. A final deliverable for the course is a professional quality, strategic project for the local nonprofit. At the closing breakfast, outgoing Fellows, incoming Fellows, and nonprofit Partners came together to discuss lessons learned from the past year and offer best practices for future partnerships.

“This program is a unique opportunity for students to behave like a board member, become immersed in an organization, and exchange something of value,” said Maureen Cannon, Program Director of Fox Board Fellows and Senior Associate Director of Fox MC.

Julie Agee, a second-year MBA student participating in the FBF program, was paired with the Mazzoni Center, which provides health and wellness services to the LGBTQ communities. “The FBF program was the reason I decided to enroll in Temple’s MBA program,” she said. “Working with the Mazzoni Center gave me a unique opportunity to help the organization move from traditional fundraising to a major gifts campaign, and helped me understand how to communicate with donors,” Agee said.  

Hayley Boyle, Vice President of Programs at the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, was one of the nonprofit partners to participate in the FBF program this past year. Through the program, she and her colleagues developed documents and expectations, such as organizational bylaws, a process that Boyle admitted was sometimes painful, but dramatically improved the organization. Going through the process, according to Boyle, helped her understand the key questions board members need to know to keep the board and organization on mission.

“There’s tremendous value in participating in a nonprofit board to expand one’s horizons and gain a different perspective,” said Meredith Okenquist, Associate Director of Graduate Professional Development at the Fox School. “Many professionals want to engage with a board as they move through their career, and this gives them great experience,” she said.

“I was really happy with both the learning outcomes that the students reportedly achieved, and the organizations were extremely impressed with the students’ ability to come in, join the board, and make a lasting impact on the organization,” Cannon said.

This past year, MBA students partnered with 21 nonprofits in the area, and next year the program will include 24 organizations.

To learn more about the Fox Board Fellows program, contact Maureen Cannon at maureenc@temple.edu.