Poets & Quants – Chicago Booth Neubauer Civic Scholars


Students work in nonprofit organizations, government, healthcare, and developing economies. They are passionate about doing well and doing good – applying the rigors of an MBA from Chicago Booth to generate greater social impact. They are mid-career professionals at Booth’s Civic Scholars Program, dedicated to careers in the non-profit or government sector and receiving up to 100% tuition support. If you are an emerging leader and want to join a highly motivated group interested in innovation, advancing research, and developing people and practices that accelerate social change, consider applying to the Civic Scholars Program.


Launched in 2016 with the support of the Neubauer Family Foundation, our Neubauer Civic Scholars are selected each year and have the option of enrolling in the full-time MBA, evening MBA or weekend MBA programs of Booth. You will join a tight-knit group of professional colleagues from the public and social sectors throughout your MBA journey. As a Civic Scholar, you will experience the breadth of the Booth MBA program – strategy, operations, leadership, finance, economics, accounting, and other disciplines – that positions you to lead social sector organizations. Beyond the Chicago campus, you’ll also have access to our global community of over 54,000 Chicago Booth alumni.

Neubauer Civic Scholars benefit from the program’s close collaboration with Booth’s Rustandy Center for Innovation in the Social Sector, the school’s destination for people committed to helping solve complex social and environmental problems. The courses examine the role of business and the social sector in society and provide hands-on learning. The programming explores sustainability and climate change, social entrepreneurship and impact investing, and how philanthropy advances justice and equity.

Today, Civic Scholars program alumni are reinventing systems to provide equitable access to affordable, high-quality health care, helping rural households move out of poverty, tackling climate change, and investing in organizations. at the service of black and Latinx youth.

In the discussion below, find out why some of the diverse voices in our 2021 incoming class chose Booth and the Civic Scholars Program. Learn more and apply here.

Why Booth?

Ben Harris, Strategic Advisor for Health and Social Systems, Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Funding, Denver

After more than a decade in public health care, I needed to refine my existing skills and add new skills to maximize my impact. I also wanted to reflect on my experience and make a plan for my future goals and impact with other experienced leaders from the public and social sectors. Booth’s prowess and reputation for developing highly skilled leaders who aren’t afraid to tackle complex issues immediately drew me to help me achieve my first goal. The Civic Scholars Program was the community where I was able to do extensive work of leadership thinking and development to achieve my second goal. Together, with the possibility of being back in Chicago, they fit together perfectly.

What is the value of the Civic Scholars program?

Jasmine Ferguson, Senior Operations and Compliance Associate, Rocketship Public Schools, Chicago

The Civic Scholars Program will allow me to create a network of peers who challenge and encourage each other not only to develop solutions, but to implement them. I will use my time at Booth to deepen my understanding of how to solve larger structural problems through a qualitative and quantitative approach, financial sustainability and organizational leadership. By harnessing my education and work experiences, I will merge business and social impact to create partnerships that can advance the efforts of community organizations and increase economic opportunities.

What is the value of an MBA for the nonprofit and public sectors?

Louisa Shepherd, Director of Collective Impact, Epicenter Memphis

Some people might think that nonprofits are less serious or less competitive than their for-profit counterparts. But I contend that, because nonprofits are often dedicated to solving the most pressing social problems on our planet, it is imperative that our work be led by exceptionally well-trained and well-prepared people. An MBA provides the tools and frameworks these leaders need to be successful. The societal challenges we face over the next few decades will be significant and the stakes will be high – which is why an MBA is such a critical part of my career development in the nonprofit sector.

How will you apply the skills you learn to Booth?

Aviva Kapust, Executive Director, The Village of Arts and Humanities, Philadelphia

At Booth, I want to build muscle to create long-term impact. As the Executive Director of an arts-based community development organization in one of Philadelphia’s most disinvested communities, I aim to develop my ability to strategically attract, manage and leverage smarter combinations of income, investment capital and human capital. Stand-alone courses such as Impact Investing, Social Sector Strategy and Structure, and Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation offer the knowledge, frameworks and tools that I am looking for. I am interested in learning how to tailor market-based interventions for social impact that promotes long-term systemic change.

Wai-Sinn Chan is Director, Social Sector Engagement Programs and Civic Scholars at Rustandy Center for Innovation in the Social Sector at the Chicago booth. She leads the social sector engagement strategy and programming for students and alumni, and manages the Civic Scholars Program. Her too collaborates with Booth Career Services and other partners to develop new initiatives and resources for alumni interested in leveraging their business toolkit to work in social impact or engage in a nonprofit board.

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