Skills for Nonprofits

About the Panel

Nonprofit work is, in the abstract, often attractive to graduate students and postdocs. But there are more than 1 million nonprofit organizations in the United States -- and they come in all shapes and sizes, demanding different skillsets of employees. What are some of the most important things to emphasize about your graduate experience to find work in nonprofits? What are nonprofits looking for when hiring graduate student and postdoctoral candidates? ADDED: This panel discussion is intended to provide participants with a sense about the breadth of nonprofit organization types and how graduate training and skills are relevant in these settings.


Daniel O. Ash, MPP, Chief Marketing Officer for The Chicago Community Trust: As lead brand manager, Ash develops, oversees, and implements communications and the marketing, public, and government relations strategies that advance the Trust's mission to lead and inspire philanthropic efforts that measurably improve the quality of life and the prosperity of our region.

Prior to joining the Trust, Ash spent 10 years as vice president at Chicago Public Media, production home of WBEZ, where he was responsible for the organization's two largest revenue categories—corporate sponsorship and individual giving—and oversaw marketing and strategic partnership. Ash's professional career has been focused on developing and using marketing and communication tools to advance social causes. He has worked exclusively in the nonprofit sector on issues including poverty, adolescent health and HIV/AIDS care and prevention. Ash earned a M.P.P. from the Harris School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago, and a B.A. in Economics from Oberlin College.

Adam Davis, PhD, Executive Director, Oregon Humanities: Adam Davis is the executive director of Oregon Humanities, which works toward an Oregon that invites diverse perspectives, explores challenging questions, and strives for just communities. Before joining Oregon Humanities in the summer of 2013, Davis directed the Center for Civic Reflection, where he trained thousands of discussion facilitators and edited Taking Action, The Civically Engaged Reader and Hearing the Call across Traditions. Davis has taught literature and philosophy for many years in the Odyssey Project and Humanity in Perspective, college courses for adults living near the poverty line, and he co-founded and directed Camp of Dreams, which provides year-round educational and cultural programming to underserved young people on Chicago’s west and south side. Davis received his PhD from the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought in 2003, and he used to lead wilderness trail crews in the Pacific Northwest.

Eboni Howard, PhD, Managing Director, American Institutes for Research: Eboni Howard is a Managing Director at American Institutes for Research (AIR), one of the world's largest behavioral and social science research and evaluation not-for-profit organizations in the world. Dr. Howard has more than 23 years of experience conducting child and family research, evaluation, policy studies and providing consultation work to not-for-profit and government organizations. She leads AIR’s portfolio of early childhood/child development research, evaluation, and technical assistance consultation projects. Dr. Howard has a bachelor’s of arts in psychology from the University of Chicago and earned her doctorate and master’s degree in human development and social policy from Northwestern University.

Rebekah Levin, PhD, Director of Evaluation and Learning for the Robert R. McCormick Foundation: Rebekah Levin is the Director of Evaluation and Learning for the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, guiding the foundation in evaluating the impact of its philanthropic giving and its involvement in community issues. Before joing the foundation, she was Research Associate Professor at UIC’s College of Education, designing and implementing evaluations for foundations and nonprofits and teaching evaluation and research methods. Prior to UIC, Levin worked at the Center for Impact Research in Chicago for 10 years, serving as its Executive Director from 2001 to 2006. She earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago.


Shaz Rasul, AB, SM, is the Director of Community Programs in the Office of Civic Engagement at the University of Chicago:  In addition to his responsibilities as Director of Community Programs at OCE, Rasul is responsible for leading a suite of programs (including the Neighborhood Schools Program) that coordinate with initiatives across the campus and directly engage with local communities near the University.

In 2014, Rasul's team launched the Community Programs Accelerator which created new avenues for supporting the success of area nonprofits through partnerships, resources, and technical assistance.

Prior to joining the Office of Civic Engagement in 2010, Rasul worked to address digital divide issues in Chicago Public Schools through the  CPS | UCHICAGO Internet Project (CUIP) which improved the quality of technology available in schools and trained students, teachers, and school leaders to better utilize technology resources for instruction and school management. He has also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer working to retrain teachers to utilize a new curriculum in post-Apartheid South Africa. Rasul received a SM in Computer Science and an AB in Sociology from the University of Chicago.