Mary Beth Collins

UW-Madison Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies

State of the Sector Lessons Learned from 2020-2022


Mary Beth Collins is the Executive Director of the Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies (“the CommNS”) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She brings to this role a passion for understanding and improving the role of the “third sector” and decades of experience working as a teacher, attorney, and nonprofit director. The binding theme from her career and volunteer experiences is the advancement of the well-being of all communities, families, and mission-based enterprises. At the CommNS, she leverages university assets in collaboration with community partners to promote and prepare change agents to support a better third sector, a better Wisconsin, and a better world. In addition to leading the CommNS and directing its research, outreach, and educational mission, Mary Beth has developed and delivered coursework and other educational experiences for students and community partners in the CommNS network. These offerings include graduate-level SoHE Professional Skills Courses, including nine 1-credit courses, each focused on a different key topic relevant to preparing future change agents for their careers; the Capstone Certificate Program in Community and Nonprofit Leadership; a Board Development course that places students with nonprofit boards of directors; a Community and Nonprofit Operations and Infrastructure course; and a variety of service learning and professional development opportunities. All of these course offerings bring community and practitioner wisdom to the classroom and prepare students for their careers as effective change agents in a complex world.



The Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies (CommNS) is a hub for collaboration and exchange among faculty, students, and community partners. The CommNS fosters work and learning partnerships that advance the well-being of communities, as well as the civic and nonprofit sectors. The CommNS aims to be a globally recognized leader in inquiry and action for social change. Through this work, the CommNS seeks to realize the spirit of the Wisconsin Idea, creating impactful opportunities for collaboration and learning with communities around Wisconsin and the world.

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