NPQ’s newswire writers work hard every week to make sure you, our readers, are up to date with the news that matters for your nonprofit practice. These tireless souls volunteer their time and talent with you in mind—so now it’s your turn to get to know them!
Our writers come from across the country and all over the sector, merging their insight and enthusiasm into a creative stream that fuels the work of readers everywhere. They’re supportive, highly informed, and hopeful about the civic sector’s ability to promote democracy, equity, and justice. They love writing, and they read nonprofit research for fun. Most importantly, they pay attention to how they can improve the sector they love.
Please feel free, as you are reading these profiles, to donate to support NPQ in a newswire writer’s honor or in support of the whole crew. The amount of sweat equity they have contributed deserves your tribute. Make sure that you dedicate the contribution in the note section of the donation form.
Now, let’s meet a few of them…
- Home: Long Island, NY
- Day job: New York Community Bank Foundation
- Time at NPQ: Four years
Marian is a stalwart NPQ writer who has more than once rescued our lineup with an extra article composed at dawn. She follows university foundations, environmental groups, and anything to do with animals. She serves on nearly a dozen boards, and somehow still finds free time to walk in the woods, quilt, and spoil her grandchildren. Though many of her articles tackle frustrating or disappointing subjects, she says her favorite piece was the one on goat yoga: “It made me smile instead of cringe.”
She writes for NPQ because, she says, “it is so fulfilling to use what writing skills I have—and to learn from the editors how to make those skills better—while informing my beloved nonprofit sector.” She calls her fellow NPQ writers “a gaggle of genius” and once drove around a golf course at 7am to hide Easter eggs for a fundraiser. But what would she do, we asked, if she didn’t work in nonprofits? “I worked in business for many years; I won’t go back to that,” she assured us. “I would probably write…and starve.”
- Home: Denver, CO
- Day job: The Denver Foundation
- Time at NPQ: Four months
Benjamin is one of our newest writers and a rising star. His thoroughly researched, in-depth articles on governance in the sector have already proven quite popular and valuable. For example, his favorite piece was “What to Consider When Nonprofit CEO Compensation Is Wrong,” because “I was able to link many different political and social issues back to the nonprofit sector.” He cites beloved former NPQ editor Rick Cohen as a major influence on his work, and believes firmly in “news by the people, for the people.” He also likes to spend his time outside hiking in the mountains or seeing live music (“String Cheese Incident!”) and reading “too many things that most people think are depressing.”
He cautions nonprofit boards to consider, “Should I give up my space on this board for someone who can better represent the community we are trying to work with?” and takes his cues from “grassroots leaders who have their boots on the ground.” Working outside the nonprofit sector seemed anathema to him (as to so many of our writers); he said he would consider a career as a researcher or a reporter, or “I’d live in the mountains away from all the drama.”
Marty and Carole Levine
- Home: Chicago, IL
- Day job: Independent consultants (Levine Partners LLP)
- Time at NPQ: Five and three years, respectively
Marty and Carole are our husband/wife writer powerhouse. They’re always on the road, whether heading to a state house to advocate for social justice, driving out to a foundation for consulting work, or visiting their grandchildren. Marty often writes articles on his iPad while Carole drives, or Carole will hold the iPad so they can join a writer group video chat while Marty’s at the wheel. (Drive carefully, friends!)
They both write prolifically: Marty holds the record for most articles ever for a volunteer; at last count, he’s written 625 pieces for NPQ! That allows for quite a range, but he often focuses on big philanthropy, education, and governance issues. Carole writes a lot about the courts. “I don’t think people understand the power, impact and importance of judicial decisions,” she said. “I am always surprised and pleased when they are widely read (usually those are the ones on reproductive rights). I feel as though I have touched folks on a topic they will hopefully continue to follow.” Marty described trying to pick a favorite article “like trying to pick a favorite National Park or grandchild.” He is concerned, though, that boards do not often enough ask themselves, “Are we fulfilling our purpose?” Carole, in a similar line, would like them to consider, “Is what we do, truly aligned with what we say we do?” She said that if she didn’t work for nonprofits, she might run for office, “but with my hippie past, that’s less likely.” (You’d have our votes, Carole.) They are pictured here with their dog, Grace.
- Home: Washington, DC
- Day job: DTA Foundation
- Time at NPQ: Eight months
Sarah joined NPQ just this year and brings lots of joyful enthusiasm to her work. She is enthusiastic but in a judicious kind of way, once advising a partner that shooting an actual cannon inside an event space for their fundraiser was unwise. We have all had those moments, of course, so she comes by her broad-based wisdom about nonprofits honestly.
Sarah writes about a wide range of topics. Her favorite article so far is “California Nonprofit Puts the ‘Home’ in ‘Welcome Home’ for Ex-Prisoners,” because “it was very refreshing to read and write about an innovative program where people were willing to open their homes up to give people a second chance in life.” She wants boards to ask themselves, “What is the experience like for those we serve? Why aren’t we asking them?” If she didn’t work in nonprofits, she said, she would direct theatre and produce art, but as a writer, “I get back and give at the same time,” so we’ll stick with this for now.
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- Home: Redlands, CA
- Day job: Independent consultant
- Time at NPQ: Eight months
Kori is our California outpost and an economics expert. In the past year, Kori has taken on writing about labor issues and unionization within the nonprofit sector, a major emerging trend. To craft her pieces, she contributes to and avails herself of the thinking of staff and other writers, exhibiting at all times an appreciation for the intelligence of the whole system and an appetite for making good use of it.
It appears Kori was destined to join us because, she explained, “I was unconsciously seeking an outlet for my convictions, wishes, and outrage when I was invited to join the NPQ newswire writer corps. I love the opportunity to ‘riff’ on something different for every article as a part of an ongoing conversation to frame topics for the sector. Exploration of perspectives becomes an act of collective reflection…Writing well is hard but NPQ’s crack editors do their thing so we don’t struggle alone!” Kori has lots of hobbies, including swimming, being in nature, dancing, “scheming with my musical children, feeding loved ones, and being in solidarity with others with strong opinions.” We’re glad you found us.
- Home: Fox Point, WI
- Day job: Nonprofit Academy of Wisconsin
- Time at NPQ: “Years. Not even sure how many.” (We think it’s seven.)
Rob is the kind of guy who looks at a community that needs a learning resource and doesn’t have one, thinks for a minute, and says, “Guess I’ll start one.” (Thus was born NAW; so much for retirement.) He couldn’t pick a favorite article, he said, but if he feels attached to a piece, “it is always because I learned something in the writing, and then took joy in sharing what I had learned with readers, helping them make sense out of it and maybe getting something they can use.” That’s not to imply Rob is uncritical; rather, he has a keen eye for misfires within the nonprofit sector, taking on charter schools, attempts at cash-cow social enterprises, and a host of other issues. These insightful analyses help readers learn from the missteps of others.
As for who he follows for things he can use himself, he said, “Mostly my NPQ colleagues. I particularly like [social entrepreneurship expert] Fredrik Andersson. Others are Vu Le, and the Broadbent Institute in Canada.” He loves baseball—in addition to listing it as a hobby, he described his alternate career path as “a beer vendor at Miller Park.” He values a connection with our readers, saying, “I also take a certain glee when people respond, so I know that someone out there actually read what I wrote. Not glee only—but pride, too.”
- Home: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
- Day job: LiveWorkPlay, Wellstone Leadership Services
- Time at NPQ: One year
Keenan is our resident Canadian, and the author of the NPQ North series. In addition to being co-director (with his wife) of an organization that supports adults with disabilities and serving as a leadership consultant, Keenan is a forceful government advocate for social and economic inclusion. His organization, LiveWorkPlay, recently won the Best Nonprofit award at the Best Ottawa Business Awards 2019. In addition to all this work, he has many hobbies, including kayaking, hiking, photography, and supporting the Ottawa RedBlacks and the Pittsburgh Steelers. (He actually has a pretty big social media following for sports commentary, and has also published a book, and we wish that he would please share his secret for doing six things at once.)
Even though he was contacted by “Hollywood types” after his article on the Emmy Foundation, his favorite was one about nonprofit overhead because “I don’t want people who work in this sector to feel like they are an overpriced stapler—because the ‘war on overhead’ is mostly about diminishing the value of workers and suggesting that underpaying them or insufficiently supporting them is an indicator of efficiency that deserves donor and funder endorsement. To the contrary!” He says he wouldn’t survive politics because “I am not flexible with the truth,” but “I feel a kinship with the greater nonprofit community, and I care about issues that extend way beyond my day job.” It shows.
- Home: Raleigh, NC
- Day job: Independent consultant
- Time at NPQ: Two years
Debby is one of our all-important voices from rural communities. Even though she grew up in New York City, her passion is rural communities in the South. She spends her free time in nature, cycling, backpacking, hiking, and canoeing “when necessary.” Her favorite piece was a recent one on recognition for the Lumbee indigenous tribe, whose homeland is near her in Robeson County, North Carolina. “I had worked with them over the years,” she said, “and the article enabled me to better understand their history and the history of their recognition battle, which I hadn’t known. That was a great feeling, to know that and lift up a group of people I’m familiar about and give our readership another take on Native storylines.”
Yes, Debby is always this conscientious about her pieces, spending lots of time “down the rabbit hole” to make sure she’s fully informed; her articles always provide great context. She described one night when she and five other community reinvestment advocates, including a preacher and the head of the local NAACP, were waiting in the hall to meet with a banker “and all of a sudden we all got the giggles, and could not stop laughing! This was no way to negotiate, but we just couldn’t help it…it also felt great.” About writing for NPQ, she says, “I love the peer group that we have, and the educational opportunities that we have, [and] knowing there’s a group of folks doing the same thing together.” If she weren’t in nonprofits, she said, she’d work on climate change.
- Home: Brooklyn, NY
- Day job: Common Impact
- Time at NPQ: Four years
Danielle is our New Yorker, a young mom and the energetic CEO of Common Impact, where she supports public-private partnerships. She writes often about partnerships for NPQ, but also about a lot of other things; her favorite piece was on Chobani’s acceptance of and advocacy for refugees.
In general, Danielle’s stories look at the effects of corporations on our civil liberties and civil society organizations. In one, she writes, “When corporate philanthropy and volunteerism are driven primarily by a company’s PR motives, the engagement is episodic and randomized by design. It increases in times of business expansion, challenge or scandal, decreases when a specific region or cause is no longer of interest and can cause whiplash to the nonprofits that are absorbing these whimsical resources.”
When she has free time, she says, she likes to read the New York Times—in paper—and to cook. But Danielle is no armchair observer of the sector; she’s willing to do what it takes to get the whole job done. “One time,” she says, “We were moving all of our paper files to a digital environment, and I spent the July 4th holiday slowly feeding sensitive paperwork into shredders. I broke two machines before they were all done!” She writes for NPQ because “I see nonprofit journalism as one of the most powerful forces for our society…I appreciate its willingness to have unpopular or controversial perspective.”
All photos provided by the contributors.