The MA in Nonprofit Management (MANM) program is designed to be practical and experiential as well as an academic and theoretical program. Site visits to a wide range of nonprofit organizations in the LA metropolitan area are an essential aspect of the curriculum. “They give students crucial behind-the-scenes exposure to the way these organizations are run,” said department chair and teaching faculty, David Norgard.
“Through these site visits, we have had the opportunity to meet Program Directors and Managers, as well as Executive Directors,” said Anthony Al-Jamie, a current student in the program. “We recently had the opportunity to interview members of the board of a successful nonprofit organization.”
Students go on two sites visits per quarter and they can expect to go to twelve different nonprofits during their program. Each visit offers an insider’s perspective on the theme of the quarter. For example, first quarter studies are focused on program design and evaluation, and students typically meet with the program director of the chosen organization to witness and discuss the practical application of their studies within the context of that particular organization. Students studying development and marketing in their second quarter recently met with the development director of the Huntington Library and Museum. “We arrange with the leadership of the organizations to talk about their challenges, successes, and the nature of their operations from the perspective of the theme of the quarter,” said Norgard.
Though Norgard and the other faculty have favorite organizations to visit, such as the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Downtown Women’s Center, the Dinosaur Institute at NHMLA, and the LA Opera, it benefits the program to be always expanding the list of destinations. “It serves our students and the purposes of the program to introduce ourselves to leaders in the nonprofit field,” said Norgard. “Maximizing exposure in the community often results in students getting internships, placements for their fieldwork, and even permanent positions with these organizations. We are diligent about them experiencing variety as we have students with a wide range of interests,” said Norgard. “We visit small and large organizations from grassroots to major institutions, with focuses from social services and health care to the arts and sciences.”
“One of my favorite visits was to a nonprofit where MANM graduates work,” said Al-Jamie. “It was great to see them managing programs and thriving in the nonprofit field.”