Iowa City, IA

Jenifer Vick, lecturer and co-director of the Nonprofit Leadership and Philanthropy Certificate, came to the University of Iowa in 2016. The newly-created program combines two related certificates—Nonprofit Management and Fundraising and Philanthropy Communication. Most nonprofits are small to medium in size and require professionals be well-versed in multiple functions, so providing this wider breadth of knowledge is important to UI students who will soon be utilizing those skills on the job.

Before coming to the UI, Vick worked as a professional fundraiser at Four Oaks in Cedar Rapids. The child and family services nonprofit has locations across Eastern and Central Iowa, giving Vick an opportunity to get to know the state. 

One of Vick’s responsibilities was to develop a team of community volunteers to fundraise for the TotalChild program. TotalChild is a long-term, holistic program focused on helping children become successful adults. Working with the organization’s leadership, the board of directors, and the capital campaign planning committee, Vick recruited, trained, and managed the campaign volunteers to meet a $6 million fundraising goal. This campaign supported over a thousand children in Linn County alone.

Vick has an easy answer for what she views as one of her best work experiences: “I have had the most amazing time working with University of Iowa students. They are eager to learn and have a true desire to impact the world in meaningful ways.” Vick says, “I loved my previous work as a professional fundraiser, but now I get to share my experience with students who will lead and influence nonprofits in countless communities throughout Iowa and the nation.” 

Helping students envision a meaningful career in the nonprofit sector also benefits local and state organizations. Following graduation, Vick helps students connect the dots between their skills and interests and the career opportunities available, many of which are in Iowa.

Vick’s students have gone on to do important nonprofit work. Julia Erickson, who earned the certificate in 2016, is now the Development Coordinator at CommUnity (formerly the Crisis Center of Johnson County) in Iowa City. Cindy Garcia, who earned the certificate in 2018, is a Communications Associate at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Iowa in Des Moines.

Vick has also volunteered in her community throughout the years. Currently, she is most active as a board member for the Iowa Music and Arts Association (IMAA). She is the chairperson of the IMAA’s annual Tournament of Drums competition, a long-standing tradition that brings Drum and Bugle Corps from around the country to Iowa. 

The Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership and Philanthropy is collaboratively administered by the UI School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Department of Management and Organizations. Dr. Jill Smith, associate professor of instruction in the Tippie College of Business, is also a co-director of the program.