Duke nonprofit chief leaving

By Todd Cohen

DURHAM, N.C. — Laura Edgerton is stepping down, effective Aug. 10, as program director of the nonprofit management program at Duke University after nearly two years in the job.

Edgerton, who began working for the nonprofit management program in 2003, is leaving because her husband has been transferred to a job in Memphis.

Launched in the early 1990s, the program offers a certificate in nonprofit management to nonprofit professionals and volunteers who can enroll in roughly 250 classes in nine regions of the state.

A certificate requires 50 hours of classes, which typically last seven hours and cost $16 an hour plus a $2 fee per class.

Since it began, the program has awarded certificates in nonprofit management to nearly 2,200 people.

Annual enrollment totals nearly 3,000 class slots, with many people taking more than one class.

In May 2005, the program began offering an intensive track that lets students earn a certificate in eight straight days of classes.

And in July 2006, the program added an advanced certificate in nonprofit leadership that already has produced 24 graduates.

For the first time this fall, the program will offer self-paced online studies, which initially will include classes in principles of marketing; how to read a financial statement; budgeting; and effective business writing.

Also this fall, the Duke program will begin offering classes tailored to arts and cultural management, an effort that Edgerton says could lead to future classes tailored to other fields of interest, such as conservation, early-childhood education or poverty.

While the curriculum in arts-and-cultural management will be open to any nonprofit professional or volunteer, half-scholarships will be available to students from Durham, thanks to a partnership with the Durham Arts Council and Hayti Heritage Center and a grant from the City of Durham.

Overall, Edgerton says, demand tends to be high for classes involving fiscal management, human-resources management and technology.

Driving the popularity of fiscal-management courses such as budget-building, grant management, cost-flow analysis and portfolio management is the fact that “nonprofits are working with small budgets and they need to do it effectively,” Edgerton says.

Demand for human-resources courses such as hiring and firing, managing workers’ insurance, and risk management, she says, reflects nonprofits’ desire to “figure out how to make their organizations run better.”

And the popularity of technology courses reflects the greater availability of technology applications that nonprofits now can afford, Edgerton says.

Because they are driven by personal passion but not necessarily trained for nonprofit work, she says, many people in the nonprofit workforce are looking for management training to develop the “skills and equipment” they need to run effective organizations.

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