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Scholarship Focused on Non-Profit Leadership Attracts Regional Talent to MBA Program

LisaStrandbery_inline380.jpgThe Schneider School’s MBA program is helping build the foundations for secure housing in Fox Valley. Lisa Strandberg, community engagement director of the housing nonprofit Pillars, is being funded, in part, through her St. Norbert MBA by the Phil Hauck Scholarship for Nonprofit Leaders.

It’s the second time Strandberg (left) has benefited from funding opportunities aimed at local talent. Born and raised in the Green Bay area, she earned her undergraduate degree in chemical engineering at University of Wisconsin-Madison on a tuition scholarship intended to prevent brain drain from northeastern Wisconsin. “You didn’t have to sign a commitment in blood that you wouldn’t leave the state after graduation, but it was thought that you were less likely to,” she explains

Strandberg settled in the Fox Valley to work in consumer product research and development at Kimberly-Clark for five years, before diversifying into freelance writing while raising a family. That, in turn, led to communications and fundraising leadership work with nonprofits.

In the second semester of her MBA at St. Norbert, she already sees multiple applications for her studies to her work at Pillars. “My role focuses in part on fundraising,” she says. “Of a $4.3 million annual budget, more than half is fundraising based. Our funding model is really complex with a lot of sources of revenue and understanding the finances more fully from a higher level is critical to keeping the organization afloat.

“Besides that, I lead a team of five, and in only a class and a half, I’ve assembled a set of leadership tools and skills that I can use right away. Those tools are going to be invaluable to me in the future, wherever I end up.”

Strandberg had also considered a master’s in public administration, and divinity school (she is very active in her church). “I found my way to the MBA because of its broad applicability – it serves a person no matter what field they find themselves in.”

She has been able to fit the pace of the program around the demands of her full-time job. “I’m only doing one class at a time, three hours once a week in eight-week blocks, which feels manageable.

“It’s still a significant commitment of time; there’s homework and research and reading and work to do between classes. I spend a fair bit of the weekends working. I have a partner who will cook (I did it for him when he got his MBA), and we have a junior and freshman in college, so I have more time to do what makes sense in my career.

“When I was keen to get back into the workforce more fully as an employee and the opportunity at Pillars opened up, I asked myself if the mission was a fit for me and I decided it was, because I had been prioritizing creating a stable home for our family and that’s what Pillars does: We give people stable home lives.”

Strandberg relished the change to explore writing before moving towards the nonprofit sector. “I had always liked writing but had got much more encouragement to pursue a career in math and science. That message was very strong for females in the 1980s. In fact, my mathematical, analytical skill set, including projection and assumption making, has served me well. Combining that with a business approach will serve the organization even better.”

Strandberg is the second recipient of the Phil Hauck Scholarship for Nonprofit Leaders. For more information on the scholarship, go to https://schneiderschool.snc.edu/academics/hauckscholarship.html.

Information about gifts to the Phil Hauck Scholarship may be found at https://giving.snc.edu/givingpages/hauckscholarship.html.

March 10, 2022