Andrew Young School of Policy Studies
ATLANTA—More than 225 Georgia State students and professionals have earned the nation’s only nonprofit credential that prepares them for nonprofit sector leadership—the Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP)–through the university’s chapter of the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance (NLA), which is facilitated by the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies.
The CNP is a leadership development program that allows students and nonprofit professionals to have an immediate impact in a variety of organizations and communities. Participants must meet a rigorous set of requirements including earning internship hours, attending the Alliance Management Institute, performing leadership and service and completing 10 competency requirements identified by the nonprofit workforce as necessary for nonprofit employment success.
This applied-learning approach reduces the time they would otherwise spend acquiring these skills in the workforce—an opportunity many find both convenient and invaluable.
“I knew that earning the CNP would make me stand out as a candidate in the job market,” said Sadiyah Ahmad (B.S. ’18), a former NLA co-president who earned her degree in public policy. And it did.
Ahmad spends her time shuttling to and from the Georgia State Capitol as a policy advocate at the nonprofit Asian Americans Advancing Justice. She notes the organization’s executive director wanted to work with her on a range of projects after noticing the CNP on her resume.
For others like Master of Public Administration candidate Troy Crittendon, earning the certification is a great way to supplement existing nonprofit experience. Over the years, Crittendon has managed multiple voting advocacy groups.
He learned about the CNP through his work as a graduate assistant overseeing the Student Clubs and Leadership program for the Andrew Young School’s Office of Career Advancement. “After becoming familiar with the NLA, I knew getting the CNP was something I really wanted to do,” he said.
Now that he is considering a career in politics, he believes the certification will have an even greater benefit.
“I need to have a good understanding of how the community that I serve works before running for office,” he said. “Earning the CNP has helped me connect with professionals in the field and develop a greater understanding of how to engage stakeholders.”
Georgia State’s NLA team works diligently to produce more student success stories like Ahmad and Crittendon; an average of 17 students earn the certification during each academic period.
John O’Kane, professor of practice in the Nonprofit Studies Program and NLA faculty advisor, has worked with NLA for the past five years. Academic Specialist Amber Slyter serves as the NLA campus executive director.
“We offer two programs a month during the fall and spring semesters with each having a speaker that addresses one of the ten core competencies that must be achieved to complete the CNP,” he said. “We also actively help NLA students seek and find required internship placements.”
Current students and alumni praise O’Kane and Slyter for their commitment to helping guide students through all phases of the certification process and to help ease the burden of the program’s cost to students who participate.
The NLA will soon claim another class of newly certified nonprofit professionals during its 2019 End of the Year Celebration. This new generation of leaders will take their skills out into their communities to make a positive impact.
“I’m always encouraging and promoting the NLA,” said Ahmad. “There’s nothing to lose from joining, whether you’re in a nonprofit or not, there’s so much information and so many passionate people to learn from.”