Dr. Trent Engbers, assistant professor of political science at USI, is no stranger to working with local nonprofits. He works in the community as a nonprofit consultant, heads the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program at USI, and volunteered with the Peace Corps.
As the director of the MPA program, Dr. Engbers heads the planning for the annual Nonprofit Excellence Symposium held on campus. This event brings together professionals from local businesses and nonprofits for a half day of workshops, presentations, idea sharing, and networking open to USI students and anyone who works in or is interested in the nonprofit sector. Dr. Engbers adds, “As a Carnegie Engaged institution, it is part of USI’s mission to support the organizations that make our community great… The Nonprofit Excellence Symposium creates an opportunity for our students to network with nonprofit professionals around current topics facing the sector.” The 2018 symposium presentations included topics such as leadership, legal issues facing nonprofits, grant writing, crisis management, and digital marketing strategies.
Each year, a featured speaker is also selected based on a lifetime contribution to the nonprofit sector. It presents an opportunity for an individual who has contributed greatly to the enhancement of their organization and the professionalization of the sector to share their perspectives on the impact of the nonprofit sector. In 2018, the symposium welcomed Ray Raisor to share his experience of over 30 years with the Easterseals Rehabilitation Center, working to help tri-state children and adults with disabilities and their families. During Ray’s tenure, the organization dramatically expanded its programs, and the number of clients served grew from 2,400 to 5,500. Just prior to his retirement in May 2015, Ray became the first Easterseals affiliate leader to be recognized with the national organization’s “Extra Mile Award.” This honor is reserved for individuals who, through their caring, personal sacrifice, courage and leadership, have “built great movements that have created enduring change.”
MPA student Paula Nurrenbern shared, “Attending the Nonprofit Excellence Symposium gave me the opportunity to hear from local business experts who provided their personal experiences with growing professionally as leaders, learning to network within the community, and they also shared their ideas and suggestions with the participants. I found the symposium to be of great benefit.”
The Nonprofit Excellence Symposium arose out of a commitment by USI to helping support area nonprofits and is just one of many ways that the MPA program connects USI resources to community needs. As an applied professional program in public administration, the MPA seeks to offer real world experiences to its students that enhance their learning while strengthening the community.
If you are interested in attending this year’s symposium, mark your calendar for Friday, October 4, 2019. If you would like to know more about the event, would like to speak at the event, or are interested in learning more about the Master of Public Administration program at USI, contact Dr. Engbers at 812-465-1130 or email@example.com.