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Largest Graduating Class Ever at Nonprofit CEO BootCamp

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Thirty-eight nonprofit leaders gathered at this year's BootCamp to discuss ways to expand their organizations' capacity and positive impact on the communities they serve.

Three-day program equips new executive directors with knowledge and skills for organizational success

CHICAGO (July 18, 2014) — A record-breaking number of nonprofit leaders graduated from the Axelson Center’s 2014 BootCamp for New Nonprofit Executive Directors and CEOs. This year’s cohort included 38 executive directors coming from as far away as South Carolina and Florida, and representing all types of organizations from animal welfare and housing services to faith-based nonprofits and education-focused organizations. 

The Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management, a nonprofit capacity-building academic center at North Park University, hosts the annual three-day BootCamp program to educate and train new nonprofit leaders in a broad scope of topics relevant to the effective management and mission fulfillment of their organizations. Participants hear from experts in financial management, strategic planning, human resource management, resource development, and other key areas of nonprofit management. BootCamp equips its participants to implement effective nonprofit management practices and, ultimately, expand their organizations' capacity and positive impact on the communities they serve.

"BootCamp has been incredibly valuable," said Mollie Dowling, who took on the role of executive director at Chicago-based nonprofit OAI, Inc. at the beginning of July. "It's helpful to look at timely information on topics like strategic planning, fiscal management, board management, conflict resolution and organizational planning from lots of different perspectives. BootCamp also reinforces the importance of planning, and validates the need to step back and spend the time to do that planning at all levels of the organization, from strategy to daily work." 

Corey Harris, executive director at Neighborhood Housing and Development Corporation in Gainesville, Fla., has recently begun to transition to the role of executive director after six years on staff at his organization. "BootCamp has armed me with the tools to do a better job leading our organization in the executive director role," Harris said. "For me personally, I now have a better understanding of the board's role. As an employee, you don't have a lot of interaction with the board, but now they're my key partners and I have to make sure that my board is aware of their responsibility."

"I like how the BootCamp program content is set up," said R.J. McMahon, chief executive officer for Robert Crown Center for Health Education in Hinsdale, Ill. "We're not going deep, we're going wide. It's lit fires under me and helped me identify areas where I need to continue my work and better equip myself for the pieces of the puzzle I need to know better. BootCamp has reaffirmed what I need to do and where the focus areas need to be."

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"My experience at this year's BootCamp was excellent," said Sheldon Smith, head of The Dovetail Project in Chicago. "As a 25-year old executive director and founder of an agency, I've been trying to wrap my hands around what my duties are so that I can push my agency forward." 

Executive Director Bernie Steiger of Literacy DuPage, based in Naperville, Ill., praised the opportunities BootCamp offered to connect with other leaders. "It can be lonely sometimes when you think you're the only person who struggles with a particular issue or challenge," Steiger said, "but as it turns out, we're all going through the same struggles. I've gotten so much out of connecting with other executive directors who face these same challenges."

The next BootCamp will be held in late summer 2015, and applications will be available in early 2015. Join the Axelson Center's e-mail list to receive updates on this and other programs and events throughout the year.


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Next Steps

Learn more about the Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management at North Park University.