Vanderbilt's Owen Graduate School of Management recently announced its fourth gift of an executive MBA for a local nonprofit executive.
Elizabeth H. 'Beth' Torres (at left), a vice president with Junior Achievement of Middle Tennessee, is the 2009 winner of the two-year prize, which is financed entirely by Owen GSM. This year's gift is valued at $80,000.
A selection committee comprising representatives of Owen GSM and the Center for Nonprofit Management (CNM) has selected sponsorship winners each year since the program became operational, in 2006. Thus, Owen's total underwriting of the sponsorhips has passed the $300,000 mark.
Before joining Junior Achievement to lead events and funding development, Torres worked a decade in marketing for Reebok International. Her duties included marketing, advertising and promotions in concert with Chicago-area retailers, as well as managing Reebok's portion of such major events as the Chicago Marathon and Major League Baseball's All-Star Games.
Torres, 36, told VNC she was inspired during her childhood by her parents' achievement: They have for 20 years successfully run their Eloise Bakery, a popular spot in the Chicago exurb of Vernon Hills. Despite the family backdrop of entrepreneurship, Torres earned her bachelor's in history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
In 2008, the Owen-CNM sponsorship went to Siloam Family Health Center Program Administrator Mark McCaw (below right), who is in his second year in the EMBA program. In 2007, the award went to Michael McSurdy, who is associate executive director and vice president of programs for the Oasis Center, the 30-year-old Nashville organization that provides residential, counseling and interventions services for youth in need.
Only the 2006 sponsorship recipient, Robyn Minton, is no longer in Tennessee. She is now vice president for operations for the Center of Workforce Innovations, in northwest Indiana, near Chicago. When she entered the Owen EMBA program, she was director of the local YWCA's domestic violence services program.
Before applying for the tuition sponsorship, candidate nonprofit executives must take the GMAT, provide transcripts and make it through a rigorous application and interview process. Only after being granted admission to the EMBA program are the executives considered for the tuition sponsorship by the Owen-CNM selection committee.
The 23-year-old Center for Nonprofit Management, headquartered in MetroCenter, also partners with Lipscomb University to provide a full-tuition scholarship for a master's in conflict management. In addition, CNM partners with Belmont University to provide tuition discounts for executives with CNM member-organizations, enabling them to pursue Belmont's Master of Nonprofit Leadership.
CNM's education partnerships are led by CNM President Lewis Lavine and CNM Director of Education Ellen Hingst, who hold Vanderbilt master's degrees, in economics and education, respectively. CNM was founded in 1986, through the collaboration of the Frist Foundation and United Way of Metropolitan Nashville.
In April, Owen GSM announced it had risen to 33rd place among U.S. graduate schools of management in the latest assessment by U.S. News & World Report. In 2008, Owen ranked 11 places lower, at 44th.
In the Financial Times' 2009 ranking of graduate schools of management, globally, Owen GSM was 56th, after averaging 64th the past three years. In 2005, Owen GSM was ranked 31st by the FT. ♦