Imani Brown, Master of Nonprofit Administration '13
Become a Nonprofit Leader from Here
I was most particularly drawn to the fact that this was the first MNA program in the country, and that it really focused on professionalizing the nonprofit sector.
At the young age of seventeen Imani Brown, MNA ’13, was told she had only 6 months to live due to an inoperable brain tumor. Brown said it was so severe that her doctors told her parents: “She’s going to be dead in a couple of days, you need to make plans.”
Brown survived six weeks of radiation therapy and took it as a message to go home and spend the rest of whatever time she had left with her family. She decided to make the most of her time by tentatively attending a semester of college “just for fun,” and after completing that semester, she decided to stick around for another. Suddenly she was in the middle of her second year, and began to think that she might make it all the way to graduation. “I received a miracle,” says Brown who hasn’t experienced a decline in health for the last 10 years. Eventually, she decided to pursue the MNA graduate program at USF.
Although Brown said it took time to gain the confidence to invest in her future she decided to make sure that she was “making a positive change in the world.” Brown explained her aspiration to do good is why she gravitates to the nonprofit sector, “I wanted to be confident that if my health declined again I would be proud of the work that I was doing.” She wanted to be part of a graduate program that held strong ethical goals and values similar to her own. Brown credits her attraction to USF to its Jesuit values and said that as a professional, the University’s “basic spirit and mission” is what specifically drew her to the MNA program.
I've always been passionate about nonprofit work and I was interested in getting an advanced degree, most particularly drawn to the fact that this was the first MNA program in the country, and that [it] really focused on professionalizing the nonprofit sector.
Brown said that she could see herself growing professionally during her time in the MNA program: “I was taking things that I was learning in class and utilizing them in the office. Conversely, my practical experience at work really informed what I was learning at school.” She said that the MNA program cohort process was particularly special. “It was really nice to be in a room full of other nonprofit professionals, managers, and see that they were all having their own unique experiences. I think what was surprising was for me to sit in that room and to see all the similarities and differences we were experiencing," Brown said. Not only was she pleasantly surprised with how much she learned from her peers within the program but she also praised her professors’ expertise.
In the MNA program, Brown said she felt “welcomed, and safe, and appreciated,” and that she was “valued in the classroom, both as a woman of color, [as well] as a member of the LGBT community.” She also expressed how her professional experience and input were “valued and respected,” which reflects the community of San Francisco as “a wonderfully diverse place.”
After graduation Brown was hired as “Senior Manager of Community Events for Northern and Central California at the American Cancer Society,” which allowed her to manage all of the breast cancer walks in Northern California. Now, as the “Senior Director for Community Events,” she manages the breast cancer walks throughout the entire state of California. Through hard work and dedication Brown is in a major position at a nonprofit where she not only continues to fight her diagnosis but helps, encourages, supports, organizes, and leads others throughout California as they fight theirs as well.
Brown has already been offered multiple promotions despite completing the MNA program only a few years ago and credits the program with assisting her “rapid professional development.” Between developing relationships with colleagues throughout the industry, advice on resume building USF offers, and all the other experiences within the program, she call the MNA program a “rich experience.”