Valued at more than $120,000, the Nonprofit EMBA Scholarship is awarded annually to one executive of any qualified 501(c)3 organization who has demonstrated commitment to serving in the nonprofit sector and covers the Vanderbilt Executive MBA program costs and tuition (does not apply to the Global Executive MBA-Americas).
All scholarship candidates must meet the same rigorous standards set for the Executive MBA program and complete their application before the scholarship deadline each year–March 31. Once admitted, students will be considered by a selection committee. The Nonprofit EMBA Scholarship recipient is responsible only for paying fees for the program – approximately $12,500 over the course of the program – to cover the direct program costs of books, a residency each year, meals and Executive Lounge amenities.
Annual Scholarship Winners
Emma Horn, 2023 recipient. Horn has demonstrated a commitment to the community throughout her 15-year career in the nonprofit sector. Having served as Executive Director of the KFC Foundation for the past 4 years, Horn leads an organization that invests in the future of KFC restaurant employees through education, hardship assistance, community giving programs, and more. Horn looks forward to participating in the Vanderbilt EMBA program, and she's excited to refine her business and leadership skills.
Misty Leitsch, 2022 recipient. Leitsch moved into a full-time position with TSPN as Zero Suicide Director in 2015, earning a promotion to Executive Director in late 2020. Right out of college, she was first introduced to the TSPN while working with another nonprofit. After filling in at a TSPN meeting at a co-worker’s request, she began subbing in other meetings as a volunteer. Her work with TSPN is particularly relevant during this time when the pandemic has increased feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression for so many. Leitsch hopes to enhance her strategic leadership and business skills with this opportunity.
Claudia Caballero, 2021 recipient. Caballero assumed the role of President and CEO of Centro Hispano de East Tennessee (Centro Hispano) in 2016. She shapes Centro Hispano’s strategic vision. Among her major accomplishments, she has spearheaded a strategic rebrand that more than tripled revenue, diversified board leadership, and ensured financial sustainability by reengineering the funding model. Caballero is eager to leverage her EMBA experience to develop scalable solutions for the Latino community. “I’m really excited about this opportunity because less than one percent of private foundation dollars go to Latino-led nonprofits in the United States,” Caballero said.
Jessica Holmes, 2020 recipient. Holmes assumed the role of Principal Strategist – Alignment, Innovation, and Growth at the St. Louis Integrated Health Network (IHN) in 2016. Holmes’ role at IHN is to design and grow innovative care delivery approaches that integrate the mental, social, and spiritual wellbeing of patients alongside their physical health. Reflecting on Holmes’ selection for the scholarship, Executive Director Juli Bennett said, “We are delighted to have Jess become part of the Vanderbilt EMBA class of 2022. Her focus on serving underrepresented at-risk communities is well-aligned with the purpose of the full tuition nonprofit scholarship.
Tara Tenorio, 2019 recipient. Tenorio assumed the role of Chief Development and Communications Officer of Hands On Nashville in 2017. Tenorio leads internal strategy and external relations for Hands On Nashville, a local nonprofit that builds capacity for individuals and agencies to meet needs through service. “Hands On Nashville’s unique opportunity within our city is to help reimagine volunteer potential,” said Tenorio. “This runs in parallel to the potential Owen’s Executive MBA Program helps realize for its students, both as leaders for their organizations and as contributors to the community.”
Bettie Kirkland, 2018 recipient. Kirkland assumed the role of Executive Director of Project Return in 2011 and continued through 2023. She led agency initiatives and social enterprises, overseeing staff, fundraising, and promoting the organization’s missions and vision, all while growing awareness of the issues stemming from mass incarceration. “There’s so much I can gain from Vanderbilt’s Executive MBA program,” Kirkland said. “As Project Return sees an opportunity to be bigger, to be replicated, and to be in more than one urban area, earning an MBA is something I need to be the smart leader to lead that effort.”
Nathan Madigan, 2017 recipient. Madigan assumed his current role of Chief Operating Officer of LEAD Public Schools in early 2016. The Atlanta native has an extensive background in education; he spent seven years working at KIPP New Jersey, rising from analyst to Managing Director of School Operations, and began his career as a Teach for America Corps Member in Newark, New Jersey. “Promoting diversity of thought through the nonprofit scholarship speaks very highly of the Executive program,” said Madigan. “I’m incredibly excited by the prospect of executive coaching. I want to be a better steward of the business.”
Layla George, 2016 recipient. At the time Layla George was awarded the scholarship, she was the head of development for Louisville Public Media. George was named director of development for Louisville Public Media in 2014, where she directed fundraising and capital campaigns for the public radio station. “I think it's really wonderful that Owen offers an EMBA scholarship like this,” George said. “With this degree from Vanderbilt I’ll be able to better serve my organization and my community.” Layla is now the President and CEO at Olmsted Parks Conservancy.
Meagan Flippin, 2015 recipient. At the time Meagan Flippin was awarded the EMBA scholarship, she was the president and CEO of United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties, which focuses on key local issues within education, financial stability and health. After working there as a marketing director, Flippin earned the opportunity to serve the organization in a key leadership role. “I am passionate about transformative, mission-driven work that is rooted in community,” Flippin said. “This is an excellent opportunity to hone my business skills in an academic setting and then apply them to make more informed business decisions to make our business practices more sound.”
Abby Shue, 2014 recipient. At the time Abby Shue was awarded the EMBA scholarship, she was the vice president of the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts in Louisville, an arts organization that hosts more than 1,000 events per year. The 30-year-old performing arts center “needed to focus on overall effectiveness and efficiency,” said Shue. “I can’t imagine a better way to hone my managerial skills and learn to tackle complex business issues than in an Executive MBA program like Vanderbilt’s.” Shue’s goal in applying for the scholarship was to aid the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts in showcasing artistic experts, while also inspiring Kentucky’s future creative artists. Shue was the first non-Middle Tennessee award recipient in the scholarship’s history.
Shue is currently the Chief Advancement and Programming Officer at Speed Art Museum.
Stephanie Barger, 2013 recipient. At the time Stephanie Barger was awarded the EMBA scholarship, she was the vice president of strategy and operations at Monroe Harding, a 120-year-old Nashville institution that provides care and support for children in state custody. With more than 10 years of nonprofit experience working to help those in need, Barger said, "I believe that it is essential for nonprofits to find innovative business models to support their services as they attempt to meet their communities’ growing needs. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to learn the business expertise that will equip me to lead nonprofits to more financially sustainable services." Barger is currently the Chief Operating Officer at Monroe Harding.
Karin Weaver, 2012 recipient. At the time Karin Weaver was awarded the EMBA scholarship, she was the national director of Bright Spaces, a Bright Horizons Foundation for Children program that creates playroom spaces in homeless shelters. With nearly 20 years of nonprofit experience, Weaver said, "The scholarship could not have come at a more perfect time and will allow me to develop the analytical skills I need in order to help guide our growth." Weaver is currently the Director of Development at FiftyForward.
Julie Granillo, 2011 recipient. At the time Julie Chupp was awarded the EMBA scholarship, she was the director of site development for Dispensary of Hope, a Nashville-based nonprofit that provides medications to those in need. A summa cum laude graduate of Vanderbilt University, Chupp said, "I'm truly honored and thrilled for the opportunity to transform this rich academic experience into strategies that can better serve our community." Granillo is currently the Chief Operating Officer at ToGoTechnologies.
Anderson Williams, 2010 recipient. At the time Anderson Williams was awarded the EMBA scholarship, he was the director of consulting for the Oasis Center. Williams said, "I want to help bridge business and nonprofits to build a more viable social sector and I believe the Vanderbilt Executive MBA program will help me develop the tools to do just that." During the program, Williams developed and launched Zeumo—an education technology platform that helps students connect and communicate better with their school and community. Williams is currently the Vice President of Operations for BOS Framework.
Beth Torres, 2009 recipient. At the time Beth Torres was awarded the EMBA scholarship, she was the vice president of events and funding development for Junior Achievement of Middle Tennessee. Torres said, "This is an unbelievable gift and I am looking forward to paying this back to my community." After graduating from the program, she took the role of president & CEO of Make a Wish of Middle Tennessee.
Mark McCaw, 2008 recipient. At the time Mark McCaw was awarded the EMBA scholarship, he was program Administrator of Siloam Family Health Center. McCaw said the training he would receive in the program would "help provide the business acumen to handle the challenge of dealing with an increasing number of refugee patients.” He also said, “It's a tremendous opportunity for dialogue among other corporate healthcare executives." McCaw is currently the Director of Vanderbilt Comprehensive Care, Infectious Diseases, and Travel Clinics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Michael McSurdy, 2007 recipient. At the time Michael McSurdy was awarded the EMBA scholarship, he was the Vice President of Programs at the Oasis Center, which has been providing counseling and child well-being services across the state of Tennessee since 1943. Michael is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Family and Children's Service.
Robyn Minton, 2006 recipient. At the time Robyn Minton was awarded the EMBA scholarship, she was the director of the YWCA's Domestic Violence Services program. After the program, she moved on to become the vice president of Operations at the Center for Workforce Innovations. Minton was the first scholarship award recipient. Minton is currently the Vice President of Workforce Initiatives at The Center of Workforce Innovations.