Sarasota Officer Volunteers for Nonprofit Leadership Training at Local College

When the Sarasota, Florida, Center of Hope was developing its policies on homeless care last year, Major Ethan Frizzell, area commander, enlisted the help of local college students. Through a volunteer position he has taken at New College, Major Frizzell was able to incorporate the development of homeless care policy into the course curriculum for the Nonprofit Leadership course he teaches.

“Last year one of the classes worked on a project with us. It was called the Community Leadership dialogues; it’s very similar to community engagement and community policy making – like what you do in international communities,” said Major Frizzell.

He began the volunteer teaching position in August 2015 and sees it as a means of giving back to the community that has so generously been involved with the Center of Hope. “This is my way of giving back to our community for very active young people,” he said.

In his course syllabus, Major Frizzell said the course would “explore how leadership can instigate greater social effect by using the resources of traditional social services and extending the strengths through nonprofit leadership. The course will examine the difference between adaptive leadership and technical management within nonprofits.”

During the first half of the course, students talk about tools and frameworks, everything from risk assessments to how to develop a portfolio, and the second half of the course, each student chooses a local nonprofit to review in fieldwork.

Major Frizzell said that some of the nonprofits they reviewed were organizations that The Salvation Army has known about and even partnered with in the past; others, however, were unknown to him, and he said that learning with the students has developed a higher level of collaboration in the community. While he’s the first to say that his responsibilities in officership come first, the experience of volunteering his time to teach community college students has helped him hone his communication skills.

“I walk the staff through these processes anyway, but it’s very helpful to get the feedback in the coursework of the students. How are they hearing what I’m teaching? That’s very relevant when you have a staff that’s growing as quickly as ours,” said Major Frizzell.

Using an adaptive leadership approach, students are looking at a host of concepts such as mission, vision, theory of change and using tools to observe and interpret what they see in a particular cultural context. “In order to create change within the culture, which is most significant, how do you listen? So we’re teaching them how to listen very actively and when you do that, then you interpret what you’re hearing very actively.”

He said the coursework has also been a good testimony; it’s helped him see how the community appreciates what The Salvation Army stands for and does.

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