Why would a wine importer celebrate the University of San Diego's Nonprofit Leadership and Management program's 10 year anniversary?
I'm a graduate of the master's program prior to my career change to the wine industry. When I worked full-time for Rady Children's Hospital Foundation, I was also a full-time student in the master's program. Then, I went to work for the Old Globe Theatre. As a fundraiser at The Old Globe, often I would attend private parties at donors' homes. We didn't want to get too crazy in front of donors, yet still fit in so we would have one glass of wine. Many of the supporters of the theatre also had a great appreciation for wine. At their homes there would be incredible wines better than what I was having at parties at my friend's homes. Quickly I was learning and becoming very interested in wine.
While pondering the career change, I took courses in San Diego State University's Business of Wine Program. There I learned the characteristics of other wine professionals, their daily roles and also an incredible amount about wine around the world.
Then, I took the leap. I registered for the wine immersion program at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley. I quit my job. I put my house on the market (it was going to sit empty for weeks while I was at the CIA) and it sold in 10 days. It quickly became more than a career change...a life change. That's all before I moved to Mendoza, Argentina.
Wow, what a lengthy introduction into why I'm excited for USD Nonprofit Program celebrating 10 years!
The USD program is the premier graduate program in nonprofit management and leadership. I looked at every other nonprofit and public administration program offered in the United States and USD is number one. It's a small, intimate program with less than 30 new students accepted each year. Some students complete the program in two years, others take longer depending on other life time commitments.
It's a combination of what you would expect with graduate level theory and practical projects in the community. Some project work includes board development, campaigns to raise money for organizations and programs designed and based on extensive literature reviews, models of best practices. There are some university professors teaching the course as well as very experienced practitioners. My advocacy course was co-taught by a former state assemblyman, imagine what you can learn from that type of an insider.
With the program housed in the School of Leadership Education Sciences, the leadership classes prepare you to go beyond nonprofit practices and become a leader in the sector and community. There are can be extreme personal growth depending on how much effort the student is willing to undertake.
After 10 years, the program has a pretty incredible network. As an alumnus, if I have a nonprofit need I look at the Best Practices Library or I think about a professor or alumni I can ask if they have done a similar project. Many of the connections made as students continue for life. I've vacationed with a few of my former classmates and some have been part of each others weddings.
USD's nonprofit program has allowed me to go beyond the glass in evaluating wines to import from Argentina to the US. I care about the community behind the glass (so much so it's part of the company's name) and telling the story of the people who create the wines.
I'm still involved with the nonprofit sector and now combining it with wine. For example, I'm helping the Women's Wine Alliance in San Diego gain their nonprofit status. When I meet with prospective USD students and other nonprofit leaders needing advice we do so now with a glass of wine.
I'm very happy with my experience and to raise a glass to USD!