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Aug 18 , 2020

The Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership (CPNL) is proud to offer two certificate programs focusing on your development as a leader. The Leadership Institute for Nonprofit Executives (LINE) Certificate and the Leadership in Action Certificate each offer a focused set of instruction and coursework designed to refine your professional practice, deepen your impact and further your career. They are, however, very different programs with targeted professional development for specific points in your career.

You can sign up for an information session to learn more about the specifics of LINE and Leadership in Action, but for now let’s start with figuring out which program is the right fit for you.

The Leadership Institute for Nonprofit Executives Certificate

The Leadership Institute for Nonprofit Executives Certificate is best for those who are relatively new to the nonprofit sector. Participants are often early in their nonprofit careers or are just starting a second career after working in the private sector. Founders of brand new nonprofit organizations also find the program very helpful as they consider the work that must be done to establish the organization properly. Participation in the program does not assume or require prior knowledge of the sector. Instead, the first component of the program provides that content through engaging class days and electives with expert instructors who share best practices across the full spectrum of nonprofit management, governance and accounting. The LINE practicum offers an opportunity to put that knowledge to work through an organizational assessment and an actionable plan addressing one specific need of their organization. Past participants give LINE credit for increasing their knowledge about the sector and confidence in their careers.

The Leadership in Action Certificate

The Leadership in Action Certificate is best for those who are established in the non-profit sector and are new to an executive leadership role. Successful candidates have become an Executive Director or CEO within the last 3 to 5 years or they are in a high-level management role and expect that an Executive Director/CEO position is likely the next step in their career. Leaders of existing collaborative initiatives or programs operating under fiscal agents may be considered if they are moving toward establishing independent 501c3 status. Previous participants in the LINE program are strong candidates for Leadership in Action once they have attained such a role. Participation in Leadership in Action assumes extensive, if informal, prior knowledge about the basics of nonprofit management, governance and accounting. While class days focus on issues similar to those addressed in the LINE program, these days are action-oriented and workshop- based: participants identify specific issues at their organization and use class time to develop targeted policies, processes and plans to address those issues. The workshop model allows them to receive real-time feedback on those solutions from facilitators with relevant expertise and from their peers.

Not sure which program is for you?

Here’s a quick four question assessment that can help you make the right choice.

  • I have worked in the nonprofit sector for:

  • More than 10 years

  • 5 to 10 years

  • Less than 5 years

  • Within a nonprofit organization, my current role is:

  • Executive Director/CEO/Founder

  • Director Level (Accounting, Development, Operations, etc)

  • Non-management

  • In transition, not-applicable or volunteer

  • My knowledge about nonprofit management, governance, programming, fundraising and finance is:

  • Awareness of all components with deep knowledge in two or more components

  • Awareness of most components with deep knowledge in at least one component

  • Awareness of some or most components

  • Limited awareness of most components

  • My primary goal for a leadership certificate program is:

  • Address existing challenges within my work

  • Build a network of professional peers

  • Increase my knowledge about leading nonprofit organization

  • Your result is:




Leslie C. Wang

Leslie C. Wang is the assistant director for the Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership. She came to Houston as a Teach for America corps member and taught fifth grade at Oates Elementary School. Ms. Wang previously served as a program officer at Houston Endowment, a private philanthropy in the greater Houston area, for close to a decade. In that position, she had the privilege of learning about nonprofit organizations in Houston and analyzing the unique strengths that they bring to tackling complex social problems. In 2016, Ms. Wang launched Honu Advisors, a small consulting practice focused on strengthening the social sector. Ms. Wang earned her MBA at the University of Texas in Austin. She serves on the advisory board of Leadership ISD Harris County and is the Vice Chair of the Texas Partnership for Out of School Time.