Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership

The course content was enlightening, the presenters were engaging, and my peers were wonderful to build new relationships with and learn from.

– Sandi D., 2022

The Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership is a comprehensive program that offers experienced nonprofit professionals the opportunity to increase their capacity for effective entrepreneurial leadership through applied theoretical studies, executive skills training, and reflective practices in an interactive learning environment. Through this innovative curriculum, participants will:

  1. Develop a greater mastery of leadership skills and increase their confidence in applying these effectively in the nonprofit workplace
  2. Gain an awareness of emerging trends in the nonprofit sector, including social entrepreneurship, earned income ventures, and the evolving legal landscape
  3. Master reflective practices that enhance communications, foster understanding, and lead to results
  4. Develop skills to regain balance, remaining centered in the face of complexity and chaos
  5. Enhance their network through an expanded leadership cohort of peers drawn from across the country
  6. Create a personal leadership plan to use their refined skills to take action on changes they wish to make in their organizations and communities


As result of their participation, graduates will be better able to:

  • Forge high-performing teams driven to achieve the mission of the organization
  • Foster within their organizations the proven practices of high impact nonprofits
  • Adopt entrepreneurial competencies of opportunity orientation, innovation, resourcefulness, and adaptive persistence
  • Lead strategic change within their organizations
  • Work with other leaders across organizations, sectors, and stakeholder groups to capitalize on opportunities for synergy in addressing critical social issues 

Graduates of the Executive Certificate program will return home equipped with the knowledge, skills, and inspiration to manage in fast-paced, resource-constrained, mission-driven environments that characterize today’s nonprofit sector.


Supported in part by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, the program was created in direct response from senior nonprofit managers, board members, and many of the over 2,000 graduates of Duke University’s nationally acclaimed renowned Certificate in Nonprofit Management program. Composed of nationally known experts from Duke University and leading practitioners, our faculty provides interactive instruction, practical resources, and targeted feedback to enhance and expand participants’ skills in entrepreneurial nonprofit leadership.

2022 Agenda 
Additional Readings, links or other preparatory work will be sent to students within 30 days of class start date.

Monday, October 17

9:00 – 9:45am

Opening Session
Nancy J. Love, MPA, Director, Duke Nonprofit Management Program, nl40@duke.edu
Matthew T.A. Nash, MBA. Managing Director, Social Entrepreneurship Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative, mnash@duke.edu

Following a welcome by program leaders, introductions, and an on-boarding activity, we will discuss participants’ expectations for the 2022 Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership and identify norms and standards for our learning community.  We will conclude with an overview of the curriculum with special reference to the expectations identified earlier.

9:45 – 10:30am

Effective Leadership and the Nonprofit Executive
Matthew T.A. Nash, MBA. Managing Director, Social Entrepreneurship, Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative, mnash@duke.edu

In this session, we will engage in a lively discussion of what leadership means for each of us.  Together, we will examine the special challenges of leadership in the nonprofit sector. Finally, we will share the leadership development goals that each of us bring to the Executive Certificate program.

10:30 – 10:45am BREAK

10:45 – 12:00pm

Promising Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits
Matthew T.A. Nash, MBA. Managing Director, Social Entrepreneurship, Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative, mnash@duke.edu

Nonprofits occupy a unique position in the organizational landscape of the United States.  Although many of the fundamental principles and practices of effective leadership apply across all sectors and forms of organization, nonprofit leaders face a distinctive set of opportunities and challenges in comparison with their counterparts in the business and government sectors.  Moreover, recent research has revealed a set of promising practices applied consistently to positive effect in many high impact nonprofits.

12:00 – 1:00pm LUNCH
1:00 – 3:00pm

Collaborative Leadership – Discovering Superpowers and Building Super Teams
Sanyin Siang, MBA, Executive Director of the Coach K Leadership & Ethics Center (COLE) at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, sanyin.siang@duke.edu 

What would it take for you to be an even better leader than you are now? Not just for the short view, but for years to come.

As the social impact landscape becomes more interdependent and complex, collaborations between private and social sectors as well as among nonprofits and within organizations will be the key to success.  Our people are also demanding a more humanizing approach to leading.   This session explores ways of seeing the value in each other, of communicating and building trust - through presentation, participant interactions and experiential exercises.

3:00 – 3:15pm BREAK
3:15 – 5:00pm

Leadership from the Inside Out!
John Curtis, PhD, President of IOD, Inc., jcurtis@iodinc.com   

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on public health, employment, food security, housing, and mental health deeply strained the nonprofit sector’s ability to address an unprecedented demand for basic human services. Without exception, and without warning, nonprofit leaders were challenged to guide their organizations forward in the face of an unknown, destabilizing force. While Covid is an outlier, volatility is not.  What has the pandemic taught us about our ability to steward our organizations through difficult situations? How can nonprofits and their leaders manage through adversity while remaining structurally and financially viable? How can we build the resilience needed to withstand inevitable future challenges?

Tuesday, October 18

9:00 – 9:10am

Morning Check-In Session
Love & Nash

9:10 – 10:30am

Coaching your Staff towards Organizational Success 
Benjamin Quinn, MBA, FarmBlue Ventures, Certified Business Coachbenquinn@farmblue.com  

This session is designed to give nonprofit executives a clear and actionable organizational management framework that attracts, motivates, and retains the top talent, and that empowers the executive to get the greatest results out of their team. During this session, you will learn how to cultivate the “Six Characteristics of a Highly Effective Team.” We will outline a clear process you can use to successfully coach your staff to accomplish organizational objectives on time, with the resources given, and with exceptional results.  As a result, participants will have an increased ability to foster and maintain a team dynamic that helps create results greater than the sum of each individual’s contribution

10:30 – 10:45am BREAK
10:45 –12:00pm

Coaching Your Staff towards Organizational Success (continued)

12:00 – 1:00pm LUNCH
1:00pm – 3:00pm

Resilience and Leadership Through Periods of Change
Anne Wilson, MA, Consultant anne@annewillson.com 

None of us have been unchanged by the pandemic. Without exception, and without warning, nonprofit leaders were challenged to guide their organizations forward in the face of an unknown, destabilizing force.  While Covid is an outlier, change and disruption are not. What has the pandemic taught us about how we approach difficult situations? What skills do we need as leaders to steward our organizations through periods of change? How can we strengthen our organization’s ability to harness opportunities found within disruption, rather than fear it?  

3:00 – 3:15pm BREAK
3:15 – 5:00pm

Introduction to Social Innovation
Mathew T.A. Nash, MBA, Managing Director, Social Entrepreneurship, Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative, mnash@duke.edu

What is social innovation? Universities, the media, nonprofits, and even government agencies seem to be increasingly using this term, but what does it really mean? In this interactive session, nonprofit leaders will explore these concepts through a case study example of 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Winner and microfinance pioneer Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank. What can we learn from this powerful story of an entrepreneurial leader who identified an opportunity, mobilized resources, and achieved significant social impact? What can we learn from leading edge research in the emerging field of social innovation if we are seeking to have greater impact?

Wednesday, October 19

9:00 – 9:10am   

Morning Check-In Session
Love & Nash

9:10 – 10:30am

Cultivating an Entrepreneurial Nonprofit Culture
Suzanne Smith, MBA, Founder & CEO, Social Impact Architects & Changemaker InteractiveSuzanne@socialimpactarchitects.com

Nonprofit organizations are navigating tectonic shifts in the social sector that require new skills and new strategies to create long-term impact. The complicated challenges facing contemporary nonprofit organizations demand a dynamic brand of leadership. An entrepreneurial outlook can help to transform the culture of nonprofits by meaningfully engaging the abilities, talents, and passions of board, staff and supporters.

10:30 - 10:45pm BREAK
10:45 - 12:00pm

Cultivating an Entrepreneurial Nonprofit Culture (continued)

12:00 - 1:00pm LUNCH
1:00- 2:30pm

Social Enterprise:  Is Earned Income Right for Your Organization? 
Suzanne Smith, MBA, Founder & CEO, Social Impact Architects & Changemaker Interactive, Suzanne@socialimpactarchitects.com  

In the face of increasing competition for limited and volatile philanthropic funding, many nonprofits are turning to earned income ventures as a potential alternative to traditional nonprofit fundraising strategies.

2:30 – 2:40pm BREAK
2:40 – 4:00pm

Legal Issues for Entrepreneurial Nonprofits
Thomas A. Kelly, JD, James Dickson Phillips, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of the UNC School of Law Institute for Innovation, takelley@email.unc.edu

Nonprofit leaders must manage the affairs of their nonprofit corporation in an evolving legal landscape. As nonprofit organizations have become more entrepreneurial, they need to be mindful of legal and regulatory regimes that were designed for an earlier era. In this session, participants will have an opportunity to discuss these and other issues with an expert in nonprofit law. 

4:00 – 4:10pm BREAK

4:10 – 5:00pm


Social Enterprise in Action: Lessons from the Trenches 
Moderated bySuzanne Smith, MBA, Founder & CEO, Social Impact Architects, Suzanne@socialimpactarchitects.com

A panel of leaders of entrepreneurial nonprofits will engage the participants in a dialogue on the opportunities and challenges of incorporating principles and practices of social enterprise into nonprofit strategy, operations, and culture.

Thursday, October 20

9:00 – 9:10am

Morning Check-In Session
Love & Nash

9:10 – 10:30am

Leading Effective Virtual Meetings 
Jeanne Allen, EdS, Jeanne Allen Consulting, Inc. jeanne@jeanneallenconsulting.com 

Nonprofit leaders have always used meetings to share information, generate ideas, solve problem, and plan for actions.  However, as the coronavirus pandemic has dramatically accelerated the trend toward virtual meetings, many organizations have struggled to maintain the quality and effectiveness of these meetings.  In this session, we will share approaches to help you “facilitate from afar” and get more out of virtual meetings so that your organization can achieve greater results for those it serves.

10:30 – 10:45am BREAK
10:45 – 12:00pm

Mindfulness of Social Impact
Rachel Bellinger, MBA, Founder, Inner Wild Coaching & Meditation, mindfulrach@gmail.com 

Creating positive change in the world is needed now more than ever. Nonprofit leaders work tirelessly to address the world’s greatest challenges amidst resource constraints and unprecedented uncertainty, while balancing a myriad of stakeholder needs and multiple bottom lines. The issues are vast, the stakes are high, and the prevalence of chronic stress, burnout and compassion fatigue are all too common. To achieve their bold visions, transformational leaders must prioritize their wellbeing. They need access to a diverse set of tools, practices and frameworks to cultivate focus, creativity, resilience and joy. Mindfulness and self-compassion are two of these essential tools. Through practical, evidence-based mindfulness practices and principles, leaders are able to communicate more effectively, inspire their teams, uncover innovative solutions, and focus on what matters most – even in the midst of constant change.

12:00 – 1:00pm 


1:00 – 3:00pm

Managing Implicit Bias – An Overview and Strategies
Inderdeep Chatrath, Ph.D., Consultant, ic1528@gmail.com

This session will present the rationale for the current national focus on Implicit Bias and its relevance for nonprofit organizations.  Theories underlying the development of the process of implicit biases will be discussed along with findings from several research designs. Implications for decision-making will be presented, along with specific strategies aimed at helping participants better manage the impact of implicit bias on their decisions, (both interactive and didactic).

3:00 – 3:15pm BREAK
3:15 – 5:00pm

Cultivating Effective Relations with the Board of Directors
Matthew, T. A. Nash, MBA, mnash@duke.edu

The overall landscape of nonprofit governance has changed with regulators, stakeholders, and the public demanding increased accountability to ensure that nonprofit organizations achieve results.  To be successful, a nonprofit organization requires strong leadership from its board of directors in close partnership with the organization’s senior leaders.  In this session, we will consider how to forge effective relationships given the asymmetries in the knowledge, information, and incentives among these groups.  We will also discuss how to increase board member commitment to the mission and purpose of your organization, and how boards must be active and engaged to fulfill their legal and governance duties. 

Friday, October 21

9:00 – 9:20am   

Final Morning Check-In Session
Love & Nash

9:20 – 10:30am 

Scaling Social Impact
Matthew, T. A. Nash, MBA, mnash@duke.edu

Nonprofits have come under greater pressure than ever to deliver increased outcomes with fewer resources.  The ability to “take our impact to scale” seems as critical as ever.  But what are the various pathways to achieving increased impact, and what strategies should your nonprofit consider?  What integral capacities are required to scale impact, and how should your organization go about planning for such an effort?  In this session, we will examine these questions in our mutual effort to make a significant and sustainable impact in the communities we serve.

10:30 – 10:45am BREAK
10:45 – 12:00pm

Scaling Social Impact (continued)

12:00 –1:00pm LUNCH
1:00 – 2:15pm

Preparing for the Next Generation of Leaders
Matthew, T. A. Nash, MBA, mnash@duke.edu

Given the impending exodus of nonprofit leaders over the next decade, it is imperative for present leaders to cultivate those who will succeed them.  In this session, a panel of emerging leaders will engage the participants in a dialogue on the motivations, ways of working, and aspirations of the rising generation. 

2:15 - 2:30pm Break
2:30 - 3:30pm

Closing Session
Love & Nash

In this session, we will bring closure to the Duke Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership program by reviewing and discussing the key themes of the week. We will also share the revised leadership development goals that each participant will commit to pursuing in the months ahead. 


*Schedule is subject to change

Participants will complete the Executive Certificate in five consecutive days – October 9-13, 2023.  The Executive Certificate is a 50-hour program that meets Monday-Friday.  The program will be held as a series of live interactive classes via Zoom. Participants must attend all sessions to earn the Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership. 

Individuals who apply and are accepted into the Executive Certificate will participate in its comprehensive program that offers experienced nonprofit professionals the opportunity to increase their capacity for effective entrepreneurial leadership through applied theoretical studies, executive skills training, and reflective practices in an interactive learning environment.

The Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership is designed to deliver high impact training for seasoned nonprofit professionals whose leadership transforms organizations, communities and lives.


  • The Executive Certificate is open to those who hold the Certificate in Nonprofit Management and have 3 years of nonprofit management experience.
  • It is also open to persons not holding the Certificate in Nonprofit Management but who have 5 years of nonprofit leadership experience in a nonprofit setting.
  • Prospective participants must apply and be accepted before registering for the Program.


Applications for the 2023 program will be accepted beginning January 9, 2023. 

Required Supplemental Materials

In addition to completing the online application, you will need to upload the following documents:

  • Current Resume
  • Letter of Recommendation
  • Statement of Interest/Intent


2023 Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership, Course ID: 0461-015
Class Date: October 9 - 13, 2023
Application Period: January 9 – September 1, 2023
Registration Begins:  March 6, 2023
Registration Ends: September 8, 2023 (or until class is full)
Location: Live Virtual Program via Zoom


Once accepted in the Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership Program, participants will receive all registration information, class schedules, and materials.

For more information, email nancy.love@duke.edu

REGISTER ONLINE for a free video conference information session scheduled for Friday, April 14, 2023 from 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m. (ET). Join us for a live, interactive webinar on Zoom where key staff will discuss nonprofit executive education and answer questions about our 2023 program.

Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership Information Session via Zoom
Friday, April 14, 2023, 12:00 p.m. -1:00 p.m. (ET)
Course ID: 0462-011
Cost: Free
Video conference details sent to registered participants 24 hours prior to the session

Email Nancy Love with questions about the Executive Certificate program.

2023 Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership Program will be offered virtually as a series of live, interactive classes via Zoom.

To ensure an optimal online learning experience, please ensure that you have access to the following:

  • PC or Laptop (Cellphones and tablets provide only limited access to the interactive feedback tools used in our classes and are inadequate
  •  Access to a reliable internet connection, in a quiet place without a lot of background noise
  • Web camera. Being able to see the faces of those participating/speaking creates more engagement and stronger connections with the instructor and other learners
  • Microphone (charged or corded USB headset, earbuds with built-in mic, or mic on webcam) – Using a mic on a headset/earbuds will reduce the likelihood of echoes coming from your connection to our session
  • Telephone (optional, as a backup in case of technical difficulty)

· Note taking materials

Tuition: $4250

Payable at the time of registration.

Duke Employee Discount

  • Employee fee is 10% off the fee of $4250 ($425 off)
    Duke employee pays fee of $3825 for program.

Discount must be requested and applied during the registration process.

Funding Sources

Our Nonprofit Management Programs (Intensive Track and Executive Certificate* in Nonprofit Leadership) are non-credit (not degree applicable); therefore, they are NOT eligible for federal loans. DO NOT SUBMIT FAFSA FORMS for these programs. Please see individual program web pages for those details. You may qualify for other loan options. Please see info below.

*Students must apply & be accepted into the Executive Certificate Program before registering.

No loans (Wells Fargo Graduate loan, Sallie Mae Smart Option Undergraduate loan, etc.) can be construed to imply any degree-seeking status for students of Duke Continuing Studies. Duke Continuing Studies courses are non-credit.

Loan Options

Your local bank may offer other options for loans or a "line of credit" service. Contact your bank for more information on financing choices.

Other Funding Sources

The funding options listed below may not be applicable to all programs at this time. Please contact the organization offering the funding to see if you qualify and if the funds can be used for the program in which you are interested.

Sallie Mae Smart Option Loan

To apply for this private student loan, visit Sallie Mae’s website, and click the I’m ready to apply button. The following application should populate with the pertinent information for Duke Continuing Studies.

  • Under Loan Needs, select Student and then Undergraduate degree.
  • Select Career training school.
  • Select North Carolina from the drop down menu.
  • Under name of school begin typing DUKE PROFESSIONAL, then select DUKE PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATES, DURHAM, NC, 00292099 when it populates.
  • Click Continue.
  • Next, You've confirmed that you want a Smart Option Student Loan for DUKE PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATES will appear.
  • Click Continue.
  • Fill out Basic Information.
  • Fill out Permanent Address section.
  • Fill out School Information.
    • DUKE PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATES, DURHAM, NC, 00292099 should already have populated for the school.
    • Select Certificate for Degree/Certificate of Study.
    • Select your Specialty or select Other if it is not shown in the options.
    • Select Half Time for Enrollment Status.
    • Select Certificate/Continuing Ed for Grade Level.
    • Enter your Loan period begins and loan period end dates.
    • Enter your Anticipated Graduation / Completion.
    • Enter loan amount. NOTE: This may not exceed the cost of tuition.
    • Estimated financial assistance should be $0.00.
    • Under Loan request, click Use calculated need.
    • Do not check any box in typical school expenses.
  • Follow the remaining loan application prompts.
Wells Fargo Graduate Loan

Please note that Wells Fargo is no longer accepting new applications for their private student loans. However, students with an outstanding balance on a Wells Fargo private student loan may be eligible to be borrowers on a new private loan. See here for details.

Workforce Investment Act

The WIA provides professional and basic skills training services to those who have been unable to find employment. Please keep in mind that this process can be lengthy, so plan to apply well in advance of the program start date.  For more information on eligibility, the application process, or to find your local Workforce Development Board, visit the NC JobLink Career Center website.


AmeriCorps Education Awards are available only for AmeriCorps volunteers and can be used for educational expenses for non-degree courses, such as Continuing Education courses offered by qualified schools. For more information on qualified schools and programs, contact the National Service Trust at 1-800-942-2677, or visit the FAQ page of the AmeriCorps website.


The Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership Program will offer a $800 scholarship to Duke Certificate in Nonprofit Management graduates. To apply, indicate that you have the Certificate on your application. Staff will verify and contact you. Please apply early to guarantee consideration.

Refund Policy

$200 of your tuition for the Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership is nonrefundable. To receive a refund minus a processing fee for class cancellation, we must receive your written cancellation request by Friday, September 1, 2023.

To submit a cancellation request:

Email: learnmore@duke.edu

Please include your name, address, phone number, and program title (Executive Certificate). Refunds will be made in the manner you paid. Failure to attend the Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership class does not entitle you to a refund or replacement class.


High quality instruction very easy to follow and connect with our work. Case examples were real life scenarios.

– Marissa R., 2022

Excellent team building and morale boosting concepts.

– Elizabeth M., 2022

My expectations were met! Coming from corporate work experience it helped me to understand the differences and similarities, so that I am better equipped to succeed in the nonprofit space.

– Jeffrey R., 2022