Kate Comfort Harr, Master of Nonprofit Administration '06

Connecting Thousands to Affordable Housing

Connecting Thousands to Housing from Here

After raising children, becoming PTA (Parent Teacher Association) president, and doing extensive volunteer work, alumna Kate Comfort Harr MNA ‘06 enrolled in the Masters of Nonprofit Administration program at USF. In her words, “I needed to go back into the work world. ... I wanted to make a career out of [my volunteer work].”

What better way to carve out a career in the nonprofit sector than to enroll in the U.S.’ first MNA program? In 1983, the School of Management at the University of San Francisco was the first institution in the nation to offer the Master of Nonprofit Administration (MNA) program.

During her time in the MNA program, Kate was hired as Executive Director of HIP Housing — a nonprofit that connects affordable housing to struggling communities. In an exceptional balancing act of school and work, Kate found her university assignments to be extremely applicable to her position with HIP Housing.

Six years after graduating, Kate continues to apply leadership skills she learned at USF. She is currently building community, mentoring young people, and connecting nearly 1400 people to affordable housing per year.

When Kate decided to enroll in the MNA program at USF, and was subsequently hired as Executive Director of HIP Housing, her passion for the nonprofit sector became a perfect reality. “I never dreamed in those early days that I would go from stay-at-home mom and PTA president to the Masters in Nonprofit Administration program”. 

USF Alumna Kate Comfort-Harr MNA Master of Nonprofit Administration ribbon cutting for 92 unit Section-8 senior housing projectAfter graduating, Kate continued to be inspired by her master's degree and the nonprofit work that accompanied it. Kate explains, “I hit on something that made me feel like I could really make a difference.” 

Currently, Kate is using the leadership skills she learned at USF to facilitate communication between the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

Right now there are wonderful new opportunities for all three [professional nonprofit] sectors to come together. Housing problems are big and difficult to solve, but with a difficult problem comes more opportunity to collaborate.

HIP Housing currently serves thousands of people per year and helps foster community — especially for those who are struggling with the effects of gentrification and high rent prices. 

Kate’s advice to fellow Dons wanting to enter the business world is to “utilize your powerful network.” During her time at USF Kate reached out to an alumnus while writing her graduate thesis and recounts “it was really helpful to learn about their career path”. 

Inspired by this encounter with a USF alumnus, Kate (now an alumna herself), helps mentor young people wanting to enter the nonprofit sector.

By Tilda Gross

USF Alumna Kate Comfort-Harr MNA ’06 Master of Nonprofit Administration accepting 2016 Bank of America Neighborhood Builders Award