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Things that Seem Still Are Still Changing: The case of the Nonprofit Leadership Collaborative of the Mid-South

Erin K. Nelson


This paper describes the longstanding partnership of the Nonprofit Leadership Collaborative of the Mid-South. Now in its 20th year, the university-community partnership has worked to increase the capacity of the local nonprofit sector through building a qualified entry-level workforce. Three key themes emerged when examining the trajectory of the long-standing partnership: strong leadership to champion the cause, the importance of strategy as both guide and buffer, and the realization of benefits beyond the mission of the partnership. The collaborative is now at a critical juncture in its lifecycle, with substantial changes in membership, waning interest, and changes to the external nonprofit environment. It is at this point that the leadership of the collaborative will need to determine whether turnaround or dissolution are the better option moving forward, and what the appropriate leadership composition and strategy will be to accomplish a renewal.

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University-community partnerships; collaboration lifecycle; strategy; leadership

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