WMU News

WMU graduates first class of nonprofit leaders

May 14, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- The first five students to successfully complete a program aimed at making them the leaders of tomorrow's nonprofit organizations graduated from Western Michigan University April 26.

The five include professionals who work with such organizations as the W.E. Kellogg Foundation, Downtown Kalamazoo Inc. and the Kalamazoo Nature Center. They have completed two years of work and all of the requirements of an American Humanics certificate program, which was launched by WMU in fall 2001 and is affiliated with the national organization of the same name. The program, the first of its kind in Michigan and one of more than 70 such programs at colleges and universities around the nation, currently has 30 students pursuing certificates.

"The program has been such a success because Kalamazoo nonprofits have offered great service learning projects, internships, volunteer opportunities and part-time for our students," says Janice Maatman, director of nonprofit education programs in WMU's School of Public Affairs and Administration.

After two years of work, each of the students has received certification from the American Humanics Association as well as their academic degrees. Requirements for the certification included completion of three nonprofit classes; attendance at an American Humanics Management Institute, where students met with nonprofit professionals from across the nation for a series of workshops, presentations, interviews and group recognition. The first five to complete the program volunteered at various nonprofit organizations in the Kalamazoo area, attended humanics institutes in either San Antonio or Las Vegas, and completed internships at such diverse organizations as the National Science Foundation, the Kalamazoo Civic Theater and Habitat for Humanity, International.

"What sets the program apart is that students who go through our program have to demonstrate knowledge and skill in such areas as philosophical foundations of nonprofits, fund-raising principles and practices, and nonprofit accounting and financial management," says Maatman. "It is the learning and implementation of these type of specific skills to the nonprofit field that makes the humanics program unique."

April 26 graduates in the American Humanics program

Casey DeLong of Dewitt, Mich., graduated with a double major in organizational communication and Spanish and is the community relations intern for Downtown Kalamazoo Inc.

Kirsten Grieser, a public relations major from Benton Harbor, Mich., graduated with highest honors in that discipline.

Sarah Krueger of Commerce Township, Mich., completed her degree with a major in public relations.

Emily Penprase of Midland, Mich., graduated as a sociology major who focused on social psychology.

Lesley Williams of Muskegon, Mich., earned a master's degree in public administration. She completed an internship at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and will continue working there on the philanthropy and volunteer team.

Media contact: Matt Gerard, 269 387-8400, matthew.gerard@wmich.edu

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