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Nonprofit Alum Jayson Council: Guiding Institutions Through the Critical Landscape of Social Impact

Jayson Council's career “has been centered in the field of education,” he says, with added passion and focus “in social justice, education reform, and college access/equity.” The Nonprofit Management master’s program alumnus has held senior leadership positions at a number of high impact foundations and community-based organizations, and now leads a consulting practice focused on social impact. 

Tell us about your career path and your current role.

I’ve spent the past twenty years working to strengthen the nonprofit social and educational sector through advocacy, capacity building, community, philanthropy, and inclusivity. I’ve held senior leadership positions at a number of high impact foundations and community-based organizations, as well as administrative and teaching roles at Rutgers University, University of Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Mellon University. 

Today, I lead a consulting practice focused on guiding individuals and institutions through the complex and critical landscape of Social Impact.

What got you interested in the Nonprofit Management program at Columbia?

I was introduced (and interested) through sheer propinquity. As a participant in an Emerging Leaders leadership program, I was fortunate to meet one of Columbia’s Nonprofit Management professors when he conducted a workshop for our cohort. He was beyond amazing, and I was very impressed with his subject knowledge. Through a brief interaction with him after his presentation, he invited me to learn more about the program at Columbia. After doing some research on my own, I knew this was a unique opportunity that I had to explore. I immediately followed up with the professor and was then invited to campus for a tour. I began my application process that very night!

What was most interesting about the program to you?

I can sum up the most interesting part about the program in one word: exposure. We were exposed to brilliant professors that also have applicable real world experience in the sector. In addition to our professors, we were regularly exposed to amazing guest speakers. Our guest speakers just happened to be some of the most influential nonprofit leaders in world. We were also exposed to a well thought-out and expansive curriculum that has been tailor-made for us to have a meaningful academic experience. We were exposed to a very diverse group of student learners as well. Our program has a large amount of international students, which truly enhanced the experience for us all.   

What led you to come back and teach in the program? Tell us about the class you are teaching.

After such a meaningful experience as a student, it felt like coming back to teach was the natural choice. I understood returning would provide me the opportunity to stay connected with the Nonprofit Management program and the greater Columbia community. In addition, I would have the ability to remain informed in the key areas that shape my present day work. 

This semester, I am excited to be working alongside Dr. Chris Cardona in the very timely Diversity, Equality & Inclusion in Philanthropy & Nonprofits course. 

What type of impact are you hoping to make in your career? 

I want my professional (and personal) impact to be generational. So far, I have been very fortunate to have a career built on advocating and empowering those around me. As I move into the next phase, I not only want to continue nurturing those things, but I hope to multiply and magnify them significantly. Ideally, my professional efforts will continue to meet at the intersection of access and opportunity. 


Learn more about the M.S. in Nonprofit Management