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BGSU Alum Uses Organization Development Degree to Help Others

When you think about the typical students in an executive business program, you think of working professionals in a for-profit corporation that are not only trying to improve their professional careers but also assisting the company to improve its bottom line. One recent graduate of BGSU’s Executive Master’s of Organization Development (EMOD) program is applying her acquired knowledge and skills to not only meet a personal goal but also improve a non-profit that helps hundreds of people in desperate need.

Tammy Holder is the executive director of the Beach House Family Shelter which provides emergency shelter for up to 30 people at a time who have nowhere else to go, whether for reasons of unemployment, barriers to housing or domestic issues. Holder explains that Beach House differs from other shelters because it is the only Goal Directed Program that gives emergency shelter to single women and families. According to Beach House, Goal Directed Programs use evidence-based best practices from business, social work, donor relations, and homeless prevention to align with governmental strategic plans limiting or preventing homelessness.

The executive director gives credit to improvements in her organization to her “amazing board and staff” as well as from what she learned through the College of Business’s organization development program. “The EMOD curriculum and relationships with peers and BGSU staff have significantly contributed to the organization and to my professional development. Throughout the entire program, Beach House was used and benefitted from various group projects.”

She adds, “By enhancing individual and group effectiveness, Beach House has been able to build strategic organization through accurate diagnosis of organizational issues, measuring and analyzing for results, implementing quality and lean systems, engaging the whole system for large scale change and effectively managing strategic human resources.”

Holder also says the organizational tools she learned have helped Beach House to cut expenses and, therefore, increase surplus. One of the most important lessons she learned was the role of outside consultants. She says they should serve as facilitators in strategic planning and goal setting and not be the decision- makers. In addition, she states that sharing experiences with other professionals and executives in the classes is beneficial. The “diverse experiences provide insight and increase both problem solving and development approaches.”

So what was the motivation for this successful professional to go back to school and why choose BGSU’s executive program? “Earning this degree has been a personal goal for quite some time. In fact, it was purpose driven. The scholarships I received while finishing my undergrad journey were awarded because my essays and academic commitment reflected my earnest desire to earn my master’s and become a non-profit director that provided effective, business-driven services to disenfranchised populations. I wanted to honor the investments the trustees, my family, friends and I had made in my educational and professional career.”

The ranking of BGSU’s program was one of several motivations for Holder to choose the College’s program. Other attractive elements were the program’s international accreditation, the evidence-based coursework, and especially the program’s design. “The fact that I could earn my degree while also working full time was extremely appealing!”

Not only has Holder’s acquired knowledge from the EMOD program helped the efficiency of Beach House, but the nonprofit was recently awarded a 2012 Nonprofit Innovation & Excellence Award in the small organization category. This prestigious honor is given to those nonprofits that have demonstrated outstanding dedication to the community. It was presented by The Blade and the Toledo Community Foundation in partnership with The Center for Nonprofit Resources.

Holder responded to the recent award. “The Non-Profit Excellence award was confirmation that utilizing an educated and empowered, leading-leaders approach that fosters positive change to increase outstanding teamwork, innovation, and that builds a system dedicated to individual and organizational success is truly effective!”

Managing her time helped Holder to balance her professional work with her school tasks. She shares this advice to those considering going back to school. “It’s never too late to fulfill your dreams. When life gets in the way, as it surely will, change self-imposed deadlines, get rid of fear and, as my favorite tag line says... Just do it!”