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Institute for Nonprofits Director Named Entrepreneur of the Year

Mary Tschirhart, director of NC State University’s Institute for Nonprofit Research, Education and Engagement (INPREE) and a professor of Public Administration, has been named North Carolina State University 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year. She joins Christian Melander, associate professor of chemistry, and John Cavanagh, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Molecular and Structural Biochemistry, who are also being honored as 2012 entrepreneurs.

Tschirhart was honored at an event hosted by the Office of Technology Transfer on November 7, 2012, at the State Club, where she was recognized for outstanding contributions related to promoting social entrepreneurship and building a culture of entrepreneurship at NC State.

“Mary Tschirhart demonstrates excellence related to social entrepreneurship, and she is widely viewed by her academic and community-based peers as a leader in nonprofit research, education, and capacity development,” said Jerrell Coggburn, chair of the Department of Public Administration. “She exemplifies the social entrepreneur — one who identifies pressing public or social problems and then sets about the task of developing and implementing creative solutions. Such an individual works collaboratively across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, demonstrating the innovation and vision typically associated with successful economic ventures. The aim of the social entrepreneur, however, is not economic gain, but rather the generation of public value.”

Under Tschirhart’s leadership, INPREE received institute status at NC State and was accepted as a member of the Nonprofit Academic Centers Council. She also brought the Philanthropy Journal to NC State. This on-line journal reaches over 30,000 individuals monthly and promotes evidence-based effective practices, including social entrepreneurship.

Tschirhart has amassed a record of entrepreneurship, including expanding the Institute’s  Community of Nonprofit Scholars, a thriving intellectual network of campus- and community-based members that numbers over 450 and represents a forum for exchanging innovative ideas, nonprofit education, and professional networking. She also launched ACCES (Achieving Collaborative Capacity for Executive Success), an INPREE program in partnership with Habitat for Humanity International that develops the leadership capacity for Habitat leaders across the country.

Through scholarly research and publication, Tschirhart has generated knowledge on social entrepreneurship, including coverage in her 2012 book Managing Nonprofit Organizations.

Tschirhart’s standing as a social entrepreneur is validated by an impressive portfolio of sponsored work: she has secured over $800K in external research, program, and operating support over the past few years, a sum that does not include earned income and charitable donations given in support of INPREE and its value-creating efforts.

On the academic front, Tschirhart has directed explosive growth in undergraduate interest in nonprofit management. The number of students minoring in nonprofit studies (NPS) has grown over 400 percent (from 25 in 2008 to almost 130 in 2012). In that same time, she has more than doubled the NPS course offerings available through the minor.

For students, she has developed and delivered workshops on starting a nonprofit organization; served as campus representative for the national Dell Social Innovation Competition for student entrepreneurs, and as a judge for NC State’s “E-games.” She has brought in recognized social entrepreneurs to present to students and the Institute’s Community of Nonprofit Scholars group.

Beyond the campus, Tschirhart supports nonprofit organizations in myriad ways, including offering guidance on how to establish boards of directors and advisory councils that are congruent with organizational missions. She provides both theoretical and pragmatic insights based on empirical evidence and her own wealth of experience.

“Mary Tschirhart has elevated the profile of nonprofit research, education, and community engagement on and beyond this campus,” said CHASS Dean Jeff Braden. “She has engaged with and attracted the support of some of the most influential civic leaders in the area, all of whom recognize the importance of a thriving nonprofit sector to meeting today’s challenges.  She epitomizes what it means to be a social entrepreneur, and we are all so delighted that she is being recognized for her scholarship, her work, and her dedication.”