History of the Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies

Since its inception in 2007, the Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies has focused on the areas of education, engagement and research. Read more about the center's development and its many accomplishments over the years.



  • The NNGO major receives accreditation from the Nonprofit Academic Centers Council.
  • The center launches new undergraduate certificate in grant writing.


  • The center opens the Huskie Closet.
  • The center launches the Community Engagement House in Grant Hall, a living-learning community focused on community service.
  • NIU Foundation Fellows program begins with two NNGO majors as the first fellows.


  • Alicia Schatteman becomes director.
  • Kishwaukee College offers NNGO 100.
  • 40TUDE Nonprofit, a student consulting team is formed to respond to challenges faced by nonprofit organizations as a result of COVID-19.


  • Elgin Community College offers NNGO 100.
  • Alicia Schatteman becomes acting director.


  • Chris Einolf becomes director.
  • The center goes through the Illinois Articulation Initiative (IAI) to have NNGO 100 (Community Leadership and Civic Engagement) approved as an interdisciplinary course for community colleges.


  • Nancy Castle retires. Anne Hanley serves as interim director.
  • The center changes its name to the Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies. The major's name is changed to Nonprofit and NGO studies (NNGO).


  • Laura Heideman is hired as the third faculty member, with a joint appointment in the Department of Sociology.


  • Nancy Castle becomes director. She helps the center develop its outreach mission, expand its academic programs, and add a minor and an undergraduate certificate.
  • NGOLD becomes part of the new School of Public and Global Affairs.
  • Mark Schuller is hired as the second faculty member, with a joint appointment in the Department of Anthropology.


  • The first contract majors in community leadership and civic engagement graduate from the center.
  • The IBHE approves the interdisciplinary major.


  • The Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) approves the Center for NGO Leadership and Development (NGOLD).
  • The first director, Judith Hermanson, works to create bylaws, implement the approved curriculum, and create contacts with the regional nonprofit and NGO community.
  • Alicia Schatteman is hired as the first faculty member, with a joint appointment in the Department of Public Administration.


  • The curriculum for the undergraduate major in community leadership and civic engagement is developed and sent for review.
  • The college searches for the center's first director.


  • Working groups meet to discuss a center and programs at NIU focused on interdisciplinary education, community engagement and research.


  • During a university-wide planning initiative, Kurt Thurmaier, of the Department of Public Administration, shares a vision for training leaders of nonprofit and non-governmental (NGO) organizations.



Over the years, the center has celebrated many achievements in education, engagement and research.


The center provides NIU students with opportunities to participate in community and university projects, as well as NGO study abroad experiences. Approximately 150 majors, 100 minors and 55 certificate students have graduated from the center and gone on to satisfying careers or further study. The center also launched a leadership and philanthropy summer camp for high school students.


The center has developed strong relationships with many nonprofit associations, especially the DeKalb County Community Foundation and its affiliated program, the DeKalb County Nonprofit Partnership (DCNP). The DCNP has placed many NNGO students in paid internships with area nonprofits. The center's partnership with the DCNP has also resulted in the publication of a series of comprehensive reports on DeKalb County nonprofit studies.

Faculty and staff engage with nonprofits and NGOs by providing board leadership, volunteering, consulting, and recruiting volunteers and employees. Regional nonprofit representatives also serve on the center's advisory group.


Over the years, the center's joint faculty and faculty associates have performed rich and diverse research on nonprofits and NGOs. They have published numerous articles, books and reports, both domestically and internationally. Their research has received many awards and fellowships.

In 2013, the center co-hosted the Future of NGO Studies conference in Chicago, presented by the American Anthropological Association's interest group on NGOs and nonprofits.