A 2003 study by the United Way of New York City suggested a looming crisis in nonprofit management, with many nonprofit leaders on the verge of retirement and few potential leaders poised to take over.
Dr. Irwin Nesoff developed the curriculum for the Wheelock College Masters Degree in Organizational Leadership largely in response to a growing need he observed for more trained leaders within social service agencies and other nonprofit organizations.
In an article titled, The Importance of Revitalizing Management Education for Social Workers, which Nesoff wrote for the National Association of Social Work (NASW) in 2007, he cited over 30 years of decline “…in the number of NASW members identifying themselves as administrators.”
At the same time, senior managers of many social service agencies have continued to learn social work on the job and have graduate degrees in something other than social work, such as business, marketing, law, or finance. As Nesoff states in the article, “Although administration and planning in social work shares elements of theoretical perspectives with schools of business administration and of public administration, there are marked differences in curricular objectives” and he goes on to illustrate those differences.
Finally—as with so many other trades and industries that for ages relied on the gradual growth of skills and wisdom of the workers within the field or organization to fill management positions—it became obvious that the actual practice of social work was not going to give most who aspired to leading their peers the broad base of financial, planning, and marketing skills necessary to lead organizations in the 21st Century.
Enter the study of Organizational Leadership ! While not all colleges approach it the same, Wheelock offers courses designed to give students the capacity to lead organizations in an increasingly global environment, while learning the skills necessary to build effective multicultural organizations with a global perspective. Tied to a Masters in Social Work, such a dual degree makes for a perfect launch of the student committed to improving the lives of everyone they serve, as well as to eventually lead a nonprofit or other social sector organization.