About The Institute for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership (IPNL)


The Institute for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership (IPNL) promotes effective philanthropy, advances nonprofit leadership practice, and strengthens the nonprofit sector through education and research. Our vision is to serve as a portal for 1) nonprofits to access the expertise and opportunities at the University of Memphis, and 2) students and faculty to access the rich context available for engaged scholarship, service learning, and applied experiences.

Leadership Team

Dr. Erin NelsonDr. Erin Nelson, Associate Director of Research and Education

Dr. Erin Nelson joined the Department of Public and Nonprofit Administration in August 2013. She received her M.P.A. and Ph.D., both with emphases in nonprofit management, from the Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Her research interest is in career decision-making, and examines how people learn about and select careers in the nonprofit sector. This research interest stems from her own experience as an "accidental nonprofiteer," and highlights the sometimes-unintentional nature of nonprofit careers. Erin also researches nonprofit career trajectories, nonprofit management education, and nonprofit leadership and talent development.

Ms. Candace WalshMs. Candace Walsh

Candace McRae Walsh is an Instructor of Public Administration and Nonprofit Management at the University of Memphis. Additionally, she directs the nonprofit certificate program within the UofM's Division of Public and Nonprofit Administration, and serves as the coordinator of the UofM's Nonprofit Leadership Collaborative. Ms. Walsh holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She is a member of the Alliance of Nonprofit Educators. Additionally, she is trained in conflict resolution and has been approved as a Rule 31 General Civil Mediator by the Tennessee State Supreme Court.

Dr. Elizabeth GillespieDr. Elizabeth Gillespie

Elizabeth M. Gillespie, Ph.D. joined the faculty as an assistant professor in the Department of Public and Nonprofit Administration in 2020 and is affiliate faculty with the Institute for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership. She earned her doctorate in public administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Her teaching areas include nonprofit management and leadership and resource development. Her research areas include women's philanthropy and nonprofit organizations, social change, philanthropic nonprofits and social justice movements, and fund development. Prior to her academic career, Elizabeth spent a decade working in the nonprofit field primarily in a leadership position at a human services nonprofit based in Des Moines, IA.

Advisory Council


The IPNL Advisory Council serves as a sounding board for the Institute and helps IPNL identify and address current and emerging trends in the Memphis and Mid-South nonprofit sector. The Advisory Council is comprised of nonprofit executives representing multiple subsectors and mission areas.


Shauna Bateman, Vice President and District Executive, YMCA of Memphis and the Mid-South*

Joanna Curtis, Chief Development Officer, University of Memphis*

Kevin Dean, CEO, Momentum Nonprofit Partners

Bob Fockler, President, Community Foundation of Greater Memphis

Amber Hamilton, CEO, Memphis Music Initiative

David Jordan, President & CEO, Agape Child & Family Services

Melanie Keller, President, Meritan

Kytrinia Miller, Director of Human Resources, SRVS

Susan Mills, CEO, Goodwill Homes

Samonne Montgomery, Senior Advisor of Enterprise Learning, ALSAC

Eric Robertson, President, CommunityLift

Kenneth Robinson, President & CEO, United Way of the Mid-South

Tracy Lauritzen-Wright, COO, ArtsMemphis

Jan Young, Executive Director, Assisi Foundation

Dorcas Young Griffin, Director of Shelby County Community Services, Shelby County*

* Indicates program alumni

Affiliate Faculty


IPNL's affiliate faculty serve as subject matter experts for educational initiatives and research projects. With academic expertise in a broad range of disciplines, this group of faculty expands the capacity and expertise of the Institute.


Dr. Katherine Lambert-Pennington, Associate Professor and Director, University of Memphis School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy

Dr. Greg Washington, Professor and Director, University of Memphis Center for Advancement and Youth Development

Dr. Sharon Wrobel, Associate Professor and Chair, University of Memphis Department of Public and Nonprofit Administration

Practitioner Fellows


IPNL's practitioner fellows serve as subject matter experts for Institute programs and services. As accomplished nonprofit professionals, this group of practitioners provides real-world expertise across the various facets of nonprofit leadership and management.


Peter Abell, MPA, President and CEO, Memphis Symphony

Michael Hoffmeyer, MPA, Director, University of Memphis Crews Center for Entrepreneurship

Dana Moore, MPA, Community Programs Manager, Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare

Laura Vaughn, MPA, Director of Development, American Red Cross Tennessee Region