Booth Scholarship Boosts Nonprofit Leaders

For Rebecca Wellisch, a scholarship to take a Chicago Booth Executive Education course gave her time to think about the big picture for Women Employed, the nonprofit where she is director of marketing and communications. “My week at Booth allowed me to take a step back and think strategically about where to invest my resources and why,” she said. 

Wellisch and three other Chicago nonprofit leaders received a chance to explore the Chicago Booth experience with funding by the inaugural Harry L. Davis Executive Education Scholarship for Nonprofit Leaders. The scholarship was instituted in honor of the 50-year Booth career of Harry L. Davis, Roger L. and Rachel M. Goetz Distinguished Service Professor of Creative Management. Davis’s innovative leadership curriculum is a hallmark of the Booth MBA.The scholarship in his name covers tuition, books, instructional materials, lunches, and coffee breaks for exceptional leaders of nonprofit organizations.

Booth offers weeklong Executive Education courses in finance, leadership/organizational behavior, marketing and sales, and strategy. The hope is that candidates will be able to apply what they learn to their nonprofit organizations, which usually lack the resources of for-profit companies.

Wellisch attended the course Strategic Marketing Management in April 2014. She has been working at Women Employed, an advocacy organization directed at improving women’s economic status, for nine years.

David Kay, executive director at MetroSquash, garnered practical lessons from the course Building Leadership Capital, which he attended in May 2014. Metrosquash is an afterschool program that offers squash instruction and academic tutoring to Chicago Public Schools students.

The course provided “a tremendous tool kit and confidence boost as we entered a phase of significant expansion for our organization,” Kay said. “I was able to implement many of the lessons with immediate effect..

Richard Johnson, CEO of Spark Ventures, attended the Corporate Strategy course in June 2014. Johnson founded Spark Ventures in 2007 after traveling to Zambia and seeing a need to help community leaders in developing countries become more effective and financially independent. He developed an innovative venture-capital-like approach to international philanthropy by “investing” in local leaders and the financial sustainability of their organizations, with a mission to lift children out of poverty.

Grace Hou-Ovnik, who attended Financial Analysis for Nonfinancial Managers in August 2014, described the experience as “invigorating, mind-widening, and enlightening.” She is the president of Woods Fund Chicago, a grant-making foundation that works to promote social, economic, and racial justice through the support of community organizing and public policy advocacy.—Celia Bever