Net Impact NEPA Launches New Program

Student Fellows - (Bottom L to R) Melissa Wicksnes '10; Melissa Saddlemire '09; Ida Brides '10; Frank DiCindio '09. Photo Credit: Paul Ralston Nenish.

By Paula Ralston Nenish
Staff Writer

Masters of Business Administration student officers of Net Impact NEPA and one of their faculty advisors, Atty. Brian J. Petula, worked together and launched a Board Fellows program at Marywood University. The program matches graduate students (fellows) with non-profit boards where they are mentored as guest board members for approximately one year.

“Graduate students may apply to the Board Fellows program through Net Impact NEPA. The fellowship provides the student with the opportunity to be a non-voting member of a non-profit board where they can learn how the management of the budget and ethical considerations effect the enactment of the mission statement,” said Roseann Martinetti, Recruitment Coordinator, Career Services.

“I was excited about board fellows because it seemed to directly support our students’ professional growth, our community, and the Marywood mission,” said Atty. Petula. “The Board Fellows program becomes another example of Marywood’s desire to offer leadership and be of service to the community,” stated Sr. Maryalice Jacquinot, Director of Community Collaboration & Outreach.

Net Impact NEPA is a Marywood University club and regional chapter of Net Impact which is headquartered in San Francisco, California. Net Impact, a global organization, initially launched the Board Fellows program one year ago. Net Impact executives felt that the cross pollination of graduate and professional students with the non-profit world would have a leveraged impact on both parties.

Non-profits increasingly need new ideas and support in becoming self-sufficient, accountable, and visible in the community. Students can bring fresh perspectives and cutting edge knowledge from the classroom to the board table.

Student fellows have the opportunity to gain practical experience in non-profit management and governance. During their fellowship, fellows work on a strategic project developed in collaboration with a faculty advisor and non-profit board mentor.

“Through individual leadership, student service and internships, faculty contributions and countless cooperative projects, Marywood University has strong relationships with many local non-profit organizations,” said Sr. Jacquinot.

Most Marywood MBA students are working professionals who want to expand their professional network and leadership skills. Board Fellows seemed to offer the right mix of networking, leadership and community service most Marywood MBAs seek. Faculty embraces the program since it affords students a real-world opportunity to leverage what they are learning in the classroom.

“I believe the board fellow experience heightens a student’s sense of social responsibility while building confidence in their leadership potential,” stated Atty. Petula. The year-long emersion in board governance of an organization serving the community should benefit a student regardless of their career path.

Four MBA students have already been accepted into the Board Fellows program: Ida Bridges ‘10, Frank DiCindio ‘09,Melissa Saddlemire ‘09, and Melissa Wicksnes ‘10. “As these first students begin their service, I hope that additional graduate students will become interested,” said Sr. Jacquinot.

“I’m curious to poll those students who participate in Board Fellows in 5-10 years. I suspect that many Board Fellows’ alumni will reflect on the program as one of their most positive, educational, and memorable Marywood experiences,” said Atty. Petula. Board Fellows should also make a significant positive impact on non-profits. “Maybe some of my colleagues in the social sciences will research and quantify the impact on our community,” said Atty. Petula, smiling.

Interested board fellow candidates are expected to, (1) complete a short on-line application reviewed by faculty and administrators serving on the board fellows program committee; (2) interview with at least two members of the committee and non-profit board members; and (3) sign a memorandum of understanding with the non-profit organization.

Graduate students can learn more about the Board Fellows program by selecting the “programs” link at Visit the Net Impact NEPA Web site at to learn more about this organization, its programs, and membership opportunities.