Given Corie Tanida’s affinity for the nonprofit sector, and her commitment to professional growth, pursuing an MBA at Chaminade University seems like a perfect fit – especially since the graduate program offers flexible scheduling and a Not-For-Profit concentration.
Tanida serves as executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, a nonpartisan, nonprofit, grassroots organization committed to making government more open, honest and accountable to the people. And heading this statewide watchdog group isn’t easy.
Her formidable responsibilities include: advocating for policy reforms at state and county levels, overseeing civic engagement projects, conducting research, leading fundraising initiatives, coordinating volunteers and managing the Honolulu office.
“For most of my career, I’ve been an organizer, so I knew how to run campaigns, events, etc.,” says Tanida, a former Peace Corps volunteer in El Salvador. “Most of what I learned was from on-the-job experience and from mentors. I realized that I didn’t have any technical or managerial experience, and these are key skills in any field.”
Earning an MBA, therefore, “would fill that gap.”
Tanida describes her Chaminade professors as “awesome, incredibly knowledgeable and friendly.” But an instructor who stands out is John Ciambrone. He taught a course entitled “Strategic Issues in Philanthropy.”
“When I accepted the position of Common Cause executive director, I was worried because I didn’t have much experience in development,” Tanida says. “Thanks to Professor Ciambrone, he gave me the tools and knowledge I needed to create a development program and feel comfortable when working with donors.
“And even though I took his class months ago, he still answers my questions and invites me to workshops and conferences so I can learn more and connect with the philanthropic community. He even gave up his own time and energy to train my board of directors on development,” she continues.
“How many professors genuinely care and go out of their way to help you succeed outside of class?”
Tanida, who plans to graduate from Chaminade this summer, also praises MBA Program Manager and Professor Elizabeth Stone.
“While the assignment was to create a business plan for a completely new nonprofit, Professor Stone knew about my unique position and allowed me to draft the plan about Common Cause Hawaii, which I was able to put to use almost immediately,” Tanida says.
“I’m grateful that she was flexible and that she continued to work with me after the term ended to help me refine the business plan. With Professor Stone’s guidance, I was able to look at Common Cause through a fresh and more objective view.
“Professor Stone has also gone out of her way to help me build my networks and share her experiences in the nonprofit sector with me,” Tanida adds. “Again, another great example of a caring professor who goes out of their way to see you succeed.”