“The M.S. in Nonprofit Management degree focuses on professional development and is geared toward sector and cross-sector leadership. That ‘S’ in M.S. means that this is a degree that will teach you problem solving, experiments, and collaborative solution building, just as we do in science. This is a practical program, not simply theoretical or academic-centered. Serious executives sign up for CU’s M.S. Nonprofit Management, and the faculty at Columbia are seasoned practitioners who are second to none.”
Sherlip is the Executive Director of Hands Across the Sea, a U.S.-based international NGO dedicated to raising childhood literacy in Eastern Caribbean since 2007. Recognized as the most effective literacy non-governmental organization in the Eastern Caribbean, Hands Across the Sea works directly with principals, teachers, children, and communities, and in close partnership with the Ministry of Education and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, to ensure that access to literacy resources is not limited for any child, anywhere.
Sherlip earned her Bachelor’s degree in Music from Stony Brook University, then studied International Relations and Public Health and Policy at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. To further advance her career, Sherlip sought a degree that would give her a mix of science, business and social good. Columbia’s Master’s in Nonprofit Management delivered.
What drew you to Columbia’s M.S. Nonprofit Management program? What did you enjoy most about the experience?
My original plan after undergraduate studies was to pursue an MBA. After working for a few years in various roles within the nonprofit sector, I recognized that I felt a stronger pull to focus my efforts on social impact and nonprofit leadership. The program has helped me immeasurably. I bring a robust toolbox with me to work every single day.
What type of skills did you learn, and how are you applying them in your career?
The program helps you find, shape, and use your voice by arming you with the skills required in the nonprofit sector. I walked away from Columbia understanding nonprofit financial compliance, board dynamics, organizational structure, programmatic design, and planned giving. The list is comprehensive. These are highly specialized areas. Working as a consultant and as an executive, I have been able to identify challenges and opportunities, to articulate and translate ideas into actions, and to lead from a place of experience and wisdom—with much thanks to the breadth and rigor of the program.
Tell us about what you are doing now and the impact of your learning experience.
I am the Executive Director of an international NGO that works on children’s literacy in developing nations. My time at Columbia opened my eyes to so many different strategic approaches for tackling systemic problems. An important takeaway was how to build strong organizational foundations, and to ensure that internal practices–and ethos–align with mission and human-centered programming. One of the outcomes of my studies is that I have been able to finely hone my skills and lexicon for systems-level work. The Master's in Nonprofit Management program prepared me for the front lines, and enabled me as a fluid advocate and leader.
What are you hoping to accomplish in the future?
I’d like to continue in my executive leadership work in the space of international relations, diplomacy, and social impact. I envision my path through humanitarian organizations that address pressing societal and systemic problems.
Can you share a personal story about your journey at Columbia?
I made it my own. I was aware of the intersection between nonprofits and other sectors where I could tap my natural skills and temperament to make a difference. So, I met with my program chair, and we crafted a personal education journey. My required Fundraising Management course load was supported by business and entrepreneurship courses from both SPS and the Columbia School of Business. You have to identify what matters to you and then structure your program accordingly.
What advice would you give future students who are considering this program?
Build strong relationships, but don’t let socializing become more important than your education goals. This is a program about integrity and leadership. Create relationships with like-hearted colleagues. Make the most of your time by building professional networks with your professors and peers. You are being empowered, and it is a treasure. Do not squander this opportunity. The future needs great readiness.
Learn more about the Columbia Master’s in Nonprofit Management program.