Baruch College Launches The Great Leaders Program for Future Nonprofit Chief Executive Officers

First-in-the Nation Executive Certificate Program to Address

Critical Need and Training in Executive Turnovers


New York, NY – August 1, 2017- Baruch College announced the launch of The Great Leaders Program, located within the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs, in response to the specific needs of the next generation of chief executive officers (CEOs) who will be heading nonprofit organizations in the New York City metro area and in the nation.

This executive certificate program – the first of its kind in the nation – is designed to provide leaders in the nonprofit sector with the expert knowledge, specific skills, and perspectives that are required today of CEOs and other C-suite staff to achieve professional success.

“Regardless of their previous experience, very few leaders seem fully prepared to become the CEO of a nonprofit organization. It is the scope of their responsibilities that is the most daunting,” said David S. Birdsell, Dean of the Marxe School for Public and International Affairs (“Marxe School”) at Baruch College.  “The Great Leaders Program will help these future CEOs perform effectively in leading their organizations during their tenure.”

According to Dean Birdsell, the executive turnover among nonprofits in the New York metropolitan area alone is expected to accelerate in the next few years.

“While retirements are one of the leading factors in this critical turnover, it is also the mounting fiscal pressures on these organizations that present very difficult challenges,” said Birdsell. “For nonprofits, large to small, current and predicted executive vacancies must be addressed.”

From Aspiring CEOs to “Sector Switchers”

The Great Leaders Program is designed for career nonprofit professionals who aspire to be CEOs.  The program also was developed for “sector switchers”, those senior managers in government and business who seek to move to the nonprofit area and lead charitable organizations.

“Most staff in nonprofit organizations are specialists,” said Frederick S. Lane, Ph.D., academic director of The Great Leaders Program.  “They are either in service delivery – health and human services and the arts, for example – or they work in support functions, like financial management, fund raising, human resources, or IT.  So, when the time comes for career advancement into the CEO or executive director’s office, they feel underprepared.  The Great Leaders Program will be instrumental in filling those critical gaps.”

About The Great Leaders Program:

Learning from Experienced Professors

 The Marxe School has the largest full-time faculty devoted to nonprofit organizational studies of any university in the country. The school also includes Baruch College’s nationally recognized Center for Nonprofit Strategy and Management. Carefully selected professors for The Great Leaders Program have been drawn from the Marxe faculty and from exceptional nonprofit executives working in the New York region.

A Course Unlike Any Other

The Great Leaders Program has three distinctive features for high-impact learning:

  • Active learning in face-to-face classroom time, putting emphasis on performing leadership tasks
  • Peer learning, where participants learn from the experiences and viewpoints of one another, including the analysis of decision-forcing cases, simulated leadership situations, and their own management lessons
  • Capstone experience, a unique leadership exercise.

Classes will consist of a range of topics, delving into the role of a nonprofit CEO and top management team, working with the board of directors, and the digital leader. Fundamental topics, such as Strategic Planning, Financial Management, and Fundraising will also be covered. Lectures given by subject matter specialists on relevant topics will include nonprofit law, marketing, crisis management, diversity, and volunteer administration.

For more detailed information about The Great Leader Program’s high-impact learning, go here.

Networking Opportunities

 The most unique feature of The Great Leaders Program is its “CEO Perspectives.” Students will meet and network with some of the most effective and creative nonprofit CEOs in New York.  These current and former leaders include: John Banks, President of the Real Estate Board of New York; Gary Begley, Executive Director of New York Cares; Lorenzo Brown, CEO of Heaven’s Hands Community Services; Dr. Tom Kamber, founder and Executive Director of OATS; Brooke Ritchie-Babbage, attorney, founder and former Executive Director of RAP, Resilience Advocacy Project; Allison Sesso, Executive Director of the Human Services Council; Fatima Sharma, Executive Director of The Fresh Air Fund; and Ariel Zwang, CEO of Safe Horizon.

“By completing this transformative educational experience, we expect that participants will have a significant advantage over their peers in competing for CEO positions and in fulfilling CEO and other top management jobs in nonprofit agencies,” observed Edgar Zavala, Director of Executive Programs at Baruch’s Marxe School.

Learn more about The Great Leaders Program by emailing or calling (646) 660-6718.