For Booth alumni wanting to give back to the community and to flex their muscles outside of work, Booth Alumni Nonprofit Consultants (BANC) has been the perfect opportunity. “Gayle Haller (’87) and I found at the first On Board conference with the Rustandy Center that nonprofits asked us for advice on specific issues, says Judy Maley ‘84, co-founder of BANC. We thought they could make use of nonprofit business consulting from Booth talent and we could see this benefitting both our alumni and these nonprofits.”
Since its start in 2015, BANC has accepted 19 projects. Projects run 4-6 months and require 2-4 hours of time each week. Groups of 4-6 consultants are matched based on skillsets and work together on challenges related to growth strategies, process development and operations evaluations, performance reporting and dashboards, strategic planning, marketing, planning community engagement, program evaluations and more. Judy adds, “Alumni have had such positive experiences, that many have applied more than once. This program is beneficial to Booth grads because it enhances their leadership skills, has helped re-launchers return to the workforce and helps sharpen knowledge of the nonprofit world. Plus, the lasting relationships formed with fellow Booth grads are tremendous.” She also points out that it’s a big passion play for some alumni who have chosen to work on projects near to their hearts such as organizations related to education, autism or the arts.
Below, two alumni share their perspectives on volunteering with BANC:
Lawrence Donoghue, Evening MBA, ‘84
I built my career in banking and small business lending. A former manager told me about the On Board conference and I started devoting more time to nonprofit activities, such as joining the board of Connections for the Homeless. I even went back to school to get a nonprofit management certificate.
My first BANC project was with the Women’s Business Development Center which wanted a strategic review of their microlending program. It was great to work with alumni based in all different areas of Chicago. I found it very rewarding to use my 25 years of small business lending experience to help them with an important strategic decision – how to grow their microloan portfolio to meet the growing need for capital by women and minority entrepreneurs, while minimizing the risks of that growth. We recommended an approach using government lending program, plus some new risk controls and governance enhancements. The board seemed very pleased with our recommendations and they began implementing them right after the project concluded. I am now leading a new project with SOS Children’s Village which will wrap up in the fall. We will help SOS increase the number of qualified and committed foster parents in their program, so that they can place more foster children in safe and caring homes. I am looking forward to trying to determine what the key qualities of successful foster parents are and then what are the best ways to attract them. I also joined BANC’s steering committee. We’re working on identifying more financially oriented projects as we have more alumni with finance/accounting backgrounds looking for projects than spaces for them. It’s exciting that we have such demand from the alumni themselves.
Mary Curtis, Evening MBA, ‘94
I worked at Baxter International for over a decade, first as a microbiologist and then in business development. I off ramped to raise my family but decided to return to a career in 2016. While I had done plenty of volunteering during my time off, I didn’t think about the need to build transferable skills or to keep my resume current so felt there was an initial hurdle to overcome.
I attended the Booth ReLaunch workshop, which helped me start thinking about what I was looking for and how I could demonstrate valuable skills through my volunteer work. BANC was a great stepping stone and a way for me to fill the hole in my resume. My project with One Million Degrees, a nonprofit that helps students in Chicago community colleges, allowed me to demonstrate concrete skills- critical thinking, research, working in groups, data analysis, jumping into a new organization, evaluating problems and creating recommendations. After being out for two decades, I gained new skills and could learn and apply these right away. Working with my Booth group was also an incredible experience, everyone was generous with their time and knowledge and it was great to be surrounded by alumni.
I credit my BANC project as critical for having received a job offer with Fermilab, where I now work. My first experience was so positive that I chose to work on a second project with Prevent Blindness, which provides information on eye care and eyesight. Ultimately, I’ve loved staying connected to Booth through BANC. It was a rewarding experience and I’m grateful for the opportunities they provided me.
BANC’s next round of projects kick-off in September. Interested alumni/students can learn more here.
Libby Smoler is a marketing specialist for the Evening and Weekend MBA Programs.