Mary Beth Collins

Mary Beth Collins

Executive Director of the Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies
Office 4285N
“Start by doing what is necessary, then what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

–St. Francis of Assisi

I have dedicated much of my career and free time to the “third sector,” working as a teacher, attorney, and nonprofit director to advance the strength and well-being of communities, families, and mission-based enterprises. Now, as Executive Director of UW’s Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies (CommNS), I harness university and SoHE assets in authentic collaboration with community partners so that together we can promote a better third sector, a better Wisconsin, and a better world.

True to my commitment to the Wisconsin Idea, I have also developed and delivered the SoHE Professional Skills Courses as part of the SoHE Applied Master’s program and the Capstone Certificate Program in Community and Nonprofit Leadership, which bring community and practitioner wisdom to the classroom and prepare students for their careers as effective change agents in a complex world.

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JD and MA, UW–Madison
BA, English, Appalachian State University


Center for Financial Security

Recent press

Needs outpace donations: Nonprofits worry ‘donor fatigue’ will hamper goals, Wisconsin State Journal, November 22, 2020
The ‘COVID-19 effect’ on the nonprofit sector, Wisconsin Public Radio, October 27, 2020
Facing budget challenges, nonprofits get creative to raise money during pandemic, WKOW 27 News, October 20, 2020
First-of-its-kind report looks at civic engagement in Wisconsin, Spectrum News 1, July 9, 2020
Nonprofit sector to be challenged and changed by COVID-19, PBS Wisconsin, April 14, 2020

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Professional Skills Course Units for Graduate Students (on a variety of topics) (Inter-HE 815)

Board Leadership for Graduate Students (MHR 765)

Variety of Independent Study Courses on Special Topics for Graduate Students