Valerie Nicholson-Watson leads professional development for Executive Director Institute

Executive Director Institute

The Executive Director Institute (EDI) is a 6-month learning opportunity exclusively for nonprofit executive directors. Course content weaves together theory, experience and context to help leaders evolve, keep up with best practices and learn new ways to creatively deal with the full range of organizational issues.

The deadline to apply for EDI 2019 has passed. To receive information about applying for 2020 EDI, please contact

Executive Director Institute Structure

  • A 6-month course. Attendees meet once per month to expand their management and leadership skill base.
  • Each monthly workshop is all-day (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and includes topic experts from area colleges and universities, business leaders and experienced Executive Directors who will provide hands-on, real life experiences.
  • All sessions are held at the Nonprofit Connect office.
  • Participants can expect to acquire knowledge from sector experts, gain best practice information from experienced leaders while having an opportunity for open dialogue to address areas of specific needs.
  • 2019 Dates: January 25, February 22, March 29, April 26, May 31, June 28. All dates are on Friday.

Executive Director Institute curriculum includes:

  • nonprofit overview and current trends,
  • leadership challenges and opportunities,
  • resource generation and fundraising,
  • strategic planning,
  • operations,
  • board governance and leadership,
  • marketing and media relations,
  • personal development,
  • organization and productivity,
  • and work-life balance.

At the end of Executive Director Institute, participants can expect to:

  • have increased leadership confidence and capacity,
  • know how to build relationships with board members,
  • have the tools to plan and manage a budget and the knowledge to guide a financially sustainable nonprofit,
  • learn the components of development and fundraising and the ED’s role in the development program,
  • have an understanding of communication strategies needed to reach new audiences and raise public awareness,
  • adapt to a changing and complex landscape,
  • and be energized for the long haul.

Guidelines for Executive Director Institute participation

  • Currently serve as a paid executive director, president or CEO of a nonprofit organization
  • Executive Director's organization must have tax exempt status at the time of application
  • Executive Director's organization must be or become a Nonprofit Connect member
  • Commit to attend all of the six sessions in full
  • Pay the tuition in full or provide a $200 deposit prior to the first session


The program fee for Executive Director Institute is $900.

The deadline to apply for EDI 2019 has passed.

Questions? Contact Noreen Bridgham, Director of Programs at or 816-888-5603.

2019 Sponsors:

CliftonLarsonAllen Logo Nonprofit Connect Sponsor                      iBossWell Logo Nonprofit Connect sponsor

Executive Leadership Track Sponsor                 Executive Leadership Track Sponsor


BKD Logo Nonprofit Connect Sponsor                                              Gallagher Benefit Services Logo Nonprofit Connect Sponsor

Executive Director Institute Sponsor                Executive Director Institute Sponsor