College of Arts and Sciences
Master of Nonprofit Leadership

March 2014 Newsletter

  • Seattle University Master of Nonprofit Leadership

     Newsletter, March 2014
    Maureen and Noreen

    What ignites your leadership? What is important to you and your community? How are you leading for a more just and humane world?

    Thank you to each of you who has shared your insights since Noreen and I began directing the program last year.  We have heard from many of you about the ways that your time with MNPL helped to transform your leadership, as well as your hopes for the future of the program.

    The stories in this newsletter highlight just a few of the members of our MNPL community who are learning and leading for a more just and humane world. We have much to celebrate.  If you have an update or a story to share, please get in touch.  

     And I hope that you will join us on May 21 for our 20th Anniversary Celebration as we gather all of us - students, alumni, faculty, advisory committee and friends - to honor our past and envision our future of igniting leaders to change the world.

     With gratitude, 


    Maureen Emerson Feit, PhD


    Student Spotlight: Mercedes Elizalde, MNPL 2015

    Learning to Lead with Passion & Purpose

    Mercedes ElizaldeMercedes Elizalde is passionate about social justice, and dedicated to helping low-income youth achieve greater equity.

     Mercedes joined the Master of Nonprofit Leadership program in the fall of 2013.  After many years of direct service, Mercedes sought a graduate program that reflects her values, builds on her experience, and teaches her the skills she needs to move forward in her career.

    Today, she combines her studies with her work as a case manager at the Low Income Housing Institute in Seattle where she works with youth and adults.  After her first quarter, she finds that the program is encouraging her to learn and grow personally and professionally.  She appreciates the opportunity to take a step back and reflect on her current work, and build the skills she needs now and for the future.  

    Mercedes also embraces the MNPL program’s focus on social justice, which is central to her values and her hopes for youth. Mercedes explains, “the more time we can invest in youth programs, the more we can work to break the cycles of poverty and achieve greater equity.”  She is already putting those values into action, volunteering with three community boards, including serving as the chair of the political strategies committee for the Children’s Campaign Fund to champion the health, well being, and education for children in Washington State.  Last year, she was appointed to the City of Seattle Women's Commission, where she makes recommendations regarding policy and legislation issues impacting women in Seattle.

    By focusing on her own development as a nonprofit leader, Mercedes is excited to help the young people she encounters to build their own motivation, resilience and confidence.


    Alumni at Work: Angie Buysse, MNPL 2012

    Leading through Collaboration

    Angie BuysseFor Angie Buysse (MNPL 2012), Program Director for the Seattle Storm Foundation, leadership involves building strong relationships and collaborating withother mission-driven organizations to pursue ambitious goals for community change.

    After graduating from MNPL in 2012, Angie was invited by board of the Seattle Storm Foundation to facilitate their first strategic plan, and then to serve as the foundation’s first director. One of the foundation’s first goals was to develop a new partnership with Girls on the Run, a nonprofit which inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.

    Angie credits the MNPL program with helping her to discover her leadership approach, and practice the skills she needed to make the new partnership a success.  As a student of nonprofit leadership, she learned “to be very sensitive to the mission, to be transparent about expectations, and to evaluate performance."  This allowed her to build a partnership that is more than “just a funding transaction.”

    The results are clear. The Foundation has helped Girls on the Run with marketing, volunteer recognition, and fund program costs for girls looking to enroll. The Foundation also started a scholarship program for junior and senior high school girls.  And the partnership includes a game night for girls and families. For Angie, this collaboration is a model that is guiding the foundation as they build a network of girl-serving organizations that deliver leadership development experiences, all with the goal of transforming the lives of girls through sport. 

    You can read more about Angie, who also serves on the MNPL Advisory Committee here.  To learn more about the Storm Foundation and the partnership with Girls on the Run Puget Sound, visit: 


    Faculty Focus: Angela Powell

    Putting the Strategy Back into Strategic Planning

    Angela Powell invites us to put the strategy back into strategic planning. Angela Powell

     Given the speed of change, and the complexity of our stakeholders, nonprofits need good strategy.  Yet, we have heard the tales of boards and staff who have worked for months to develop a long-range strategic plan, only to have that plan collect dust on a shelf.  How can organizations anticipate changes and quickly identify the shifts needed to best meet their missions and serve community?  How do we cultivate adapting learning organizations that allow us to act strategically and with agility?

    These are the questions and concerns that Angela Powell will bring to the classroom when she joins MNPL as a faculty member beginning this spring. Drawing on her MA in Organizational Development from Bastyr University, she and the class will explore multiple approaches to strategic planning -- from the traditional to emerging trends in real time planning and human centered design.  Building on her more than 20 years of nonprofit service, and the successful growth of her consulting and coaching firm Imago llc, she and the class will consider what does it mean to put these different strategies in practice.

    Angela also brings to MNPL her long-standing commitment to social justice.  Her gift and passion for initiating and organizing effective change efforts showed early: as a 3rd grader, she instigated a school-wide anti-smoking campaign that empowered kids to support their parents in kicking the habit. After college, she worked for many years as a health educator, advocate and associate director with organizations like Stop AIDS Chicago, the Center for Health Training and Powerful Voices here in Seattle.  More recently, she served as chair of the Board of Directors for the Pride Foundation.

    You can learn more about Angela and her work at


    Transitions & Celebrations

    Updates from MNPL Alumni & Students

    Laura Rehrmann (MNPL 96) is President of the Seattle Downtown Rotary

    Sam Whiting (MNPL 97) is President &  CEO of Thrive by Five Washington

    Kirk Laughlin (MNPL 99) is Director of Advancement at the Seattle Children's Museum 

    Tracy Kahlo (MNPL 00) is a Member of the Best Practices Task Force of the National Council of Nonprofits

    Deanne Boisvert (MNPL 01) is a Lecturer at Windesheim Honours College - Netherlands

    Sue Mecham (MNPL 01) is Managing Director of the Fulcrum Foundation 

    Amy Zimmerman (MNPL 08) is now Auditor at Jacobson Jarvis & Co. 

    Khaled Jaraysa (MNPL 09) will receive the Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award at Seattle University on April 2

    Amy Spencer (MNPL 09) is Development Manager at Junior Achievement of Oregon & SW Washington 

    Gary Davis (MNPL 11) is Executive Director at Companis

    Kathy Fleming (MNPL 11) is Resource Development Officer at United Way King County

    Susann Edmond (MNPL 12) is Donor Relations Manager at Child Care Resources

    Irene Diaz Soto (MNPL 12) is Education Coordinator at Child and Youth Finance International - Netherlands

    Emiko Blalock (MNPL 12) will be joining the PhD program in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education at Michigan State University in the fall

    Heidi Neff (MNPL 12) is Youth Tutoring Program Manager at Catholic Community Services

    Kelly Pearson (MNPL 13) and Jesse Owens Hooper (MNPL 12), both of Wellspring Family Services, presented their workshop “Framing: The Powerful Key to Effective Communication” at the winter Northwest Development Officers Association conference

    Mark Hancock (MNPL 13) is Executive Director at Auburn Public Schools Foundation

    Paul Kundtz (MNPL 14) is the WA State Executive Director at the Trust for Public Land

    Maureen Wishkoski (MNPL 14) is Court Advocate Manager at Women’s and Children’s Alliance of Boise

    Sally Guzman Reyes (MNPL 15) is now Student Support Advocate for the Edmonds School District

    Gabriel Manriquez (MNPL 15) is Resource Specialist II at YMCA of Greater Seattle 

    Alex Okerman (MNPL 15) is now International Development Coordinator and Resource Specialist at YMCA of Greater Seattle


    Have an update to share?  Email us at