A Publication of WTVP

For 30 years, BU has developed nonprofit leaders

by Brad McMillan | Photo by Todd Pilon |

The economic impact of central Illinois nonprofit organizations is enormous. And, they do great work for so many in need.

This year, Bradley University’s Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership program (NPL) is celebrating 30 years of developing highly skilled nonprofit leaders for central Illinois and throughout America.

Students who work full time for a nonprofit can receive a 30% tuition reduction

For the convenience of working graduate students, the NPL program last fall transitioned to a completely online program. At most, students take two courses at once and can complete the 36 credit hours of coursework in 16 months, though they have up to five years. Students who work full time for a nonprofit organization can receive a 30% tuition reduction.

The NPL program builds a leadership tool kit for success in the nonprofit sector with courses in grant writing, digital social media, human resources, financial management and strategic planning. Courses are taught by talented faculty from Bradley University and adjunct faculty with years of real-world nonprofit experience. To learn more, go to

Bradley’s NPL program greatly benefits its graduates by getting them placed in high-level leadership positions in the nonprofit sector. Meanwhile, the NPL program has positively impacted central Illinois nonprofit organizations in many tangible ways. Case in point is the story of Mark Roberts, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Central Illinois (CFCI).

I’ll let Mark tell his own story:

Mark Roberts, president and CEO of CFCI
Mark Roberts, president and CEO of CFCI

“I am a proud graduate of Bradley’s Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership program, earning my degree in 2005. Prior to joining CFCI as president and CEO in May 2008, I served the nonprofit sector in positions including director of development at Bradley University, chief development officer at the Lutheran Hillside Village Foundation, and director of advancement and community relations at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria.

“There is no doubt that the skills I learned in the NPL program, in addition to my professional experiences, have aided me greatly in my current position. As the CEO of an organization with a small staff and an outsized mission of working to help improve the quality of life in central Illinois, I am by necessity a generalist in all aspects of my job. From accounting to human resources to advocacy and beyond, I continue to benefit from my outstanding Bradley education.

“One of the most important topics that I studied in the NPL program is that of organizational culture. I consider a strong, healthy and effective culture to be the cornerstone upon which the rest of our organization is built. In short — and without exaggeration — culture is everything. Qualities such as respect, integrity, adaptability, teamwork, engagement and communication are baked into all aspects of our work.

“This intentionality includes not just the CFCI staff but extends to our volunteer board and committee members as well. We have been and continue to be richly blessed with outstanding volunteers who embrace and help to advance CFCI’s excellent organizational culture. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding: CFCI is among the fastest growing community foundations in Illinois in total assets, and is the largest in downstate Illinois by that same measure. A great culture, executed by terrific people, equals rapid growth and greater impact for our community.

“Bradley’s NPL program continues to add value to the Community Foundation, as we greatly benefit from a steady stream of talented graduate interns working to complete their capstone field experience at CFCI. I have also hired numerous graduates of the program as staff members over the past 15 years, knowing that without exception they will be well-prepared for success in the nonprofit arena.

Bradley graduates are ‘without exception … well prepared for success in the nonprofit arena’ — Mark Roberts

“Finally, I am pleased to mention that I will endeavor to add value back into the NPL program starting this fall. I have agreed to serve as an adjunct faculty member, teaching an online course in board governance and fundraising.

“I look forward to helping to prepare the next generation of NPL graduates for success, knowing that by extension our local nonprofit organizations will be strengthened as well.”

Brad McMillan

Brad McMillan

is coordinator of the Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership program at Bradley University and also executive director of the Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service there