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Axelson Center Celebrates Another Successful Symposium

10th Annual Axelson Center Symposium

10th annual conference attracts high attendance from area nonprofit professionals


CHICAGO, IL (May 15, 2009) – More than 500 participants were on hand for North Park University’s 10th Annual Axelson Center Symposium for nonprofit professionals. The turnout for the May 13–14 event eclipsed last year’s attendance, notes Axelson Center Director Pier Rogers.

Leslie Crutchfield, coauthor of Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits, was this year’s opening keynote speaker. The title of her book also inspired the conference theme, “Forces for Good: Key Practices That Transform Organizations.”

In addition to offering a plethora of workshops, the symposium honored two organizations with the Alford-Axelson Award for Nonprofit Managerial Excellence. The award (which comes with a $5,000 unrestricted grant) is named in honor of leading nonprofit thinker, Jimmie R. Alford, and devoted community healthcare leader, Nils G. Axelson. Alford also helped establish the Axelson Center and is the founder of the nonprofit consulting firm, The Alford Group.

In choosing the winners, a panel of Chicago’s top nonprofit and philanthropy leaders reviewed an applicant pool of 42 nominees. Winners were announced during Wednesday’s luncheon by NBC5 anchor Zoraida Sambolin. Girls in the Game won this year’s award in the small nonprofit category and Community Health won in the large nonprofit category. Organizations were evaluated for clarity of mission, impact of programs, creativity of revenue-building strategies, strength of financial policies, support of staff development, accountability and engagement, and more.

Reflecting on the last decade, Rogers observes that leaders who have received training through the annual symposium and the center’s resources have strengthened and started organizations “that were more resilient and better equipped to serve our communities.”

Adds Alford, “This has certainly grown beyond any of our expectations.”

Photo: Keynote speaker Leslie Crutchfield