Strategizing PhD Careers in the Nonprofit Sector

Career opportunities for Yale’s talented doctoral and postdoc students in the humanities abound. One area of particular interest is the social sector, which provides a diverse array of fulfilling options. Pursuing these possibilities calls for innovative thinking, some professional development pertinent to nonprofitsa strong base of professional connections, and an entrepreneurial spirit and perseverance. While these opportunities will leverage the many skills gained pursuing a doctoral degree, navigating the transition to a career in the nonprofit sector will necessitate “shifting gears” and require a new narrative. In an effort to expose PhD and postdoc students to alternative career pathways in the nonprofit arena and help them navigate this pathway, Yale’s Office of Career Strategy (OCS) is launching a new pilot program this fall focused on careers within the nonprofit sector.

Session I: An Inside View of a Successful Job Search


March 2, 4-5.30 PM

This session will provide some high-level tips as you navigate the various stages of the search process. The discussion will appeal to students both actively seeking positions as well as those considering a future position outside the academy. Topics to be covered include identifying key resources, developing networks, seeking informational interviews, and conducting a successful job search with strong resumes, cover letters and interviews. Panelists include:

  • Hyun Ja Shin (PhD Yale, Economics), Director of Yale’s Graduate & Postdoc Career Services
  • Ellen Babby (PhD Yale, French),  Consultant in nonprofit management

Session II: An Inside Look at Foundations

March 11, 4-5.30 PM

There are tens of thousands of grantmaking foundations in the United States of varying sizes and with diverse and compelling missions. Foundations can offer PhDs rich career possibilities in research, program management, and other roles. Learn from our expert panelists about their own transition from PhDs to their current roles, and how a career in foundations can be rewarding and intellectually stimulating. Our Q& A will give participants a chance to speak directly with panelists to discuss how to strategize a career within foundations and how best to translate your experience in graduate school into a nonprofit career.  Panelists include:

  • Louise Bernard (PhD Yale, African American Studies) Director of the Museum of the Obama Presidential Center
  • Lorelle Espinosa, (PhD UCLA, Higher Education and Organizational Change, ) Program Director, DEI in STEM Higher Education at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

Watch the Recorded Session Here

Session III: Inclusive Leadership and Governance in the NonProfit Sector





April 1st, 4-5.30 PM

Join this conversation to learn about how our panelists have leveraged their PhDs in important leadership roles in the non-profit sector. What does it mean to effectively govern an organization, and what skills have been critical to their success? How have they cultivated an inclusive organization through their leadership?  What advice do they have to Yale PhD students about navigating non-profit job markets? Our panelists include:

  • Lavita McMath Turner (PhD CUNY, Urban Education) Chief Diversity Officer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Victoria B. Bjorklund (PhD Yale, Medieval Studies), Retired Partner at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP where she founded and headed group assisting nonprofits; chair of Board of Advisors for Doctors without Borders; member of the Robinhood Foundation Board of Directors
  • Diana Cordova (PhD Stanford, Social Psychology) Academic Director of the Kellogg Executive Leadership Institute

Watch the Recorded Session Here 

Session IV: Career Prospects in the Environmental Sector

April 29th 4-5.30 PM

Nonprofit organizations focused on climate change and the environment have experienced considerable growth in the last ten years. In this conversation, learn from three experts on how your graduate school experience can translate into meaningful careers in environmental organizations and centers focused on Climate Change. They will discuss their current roles, their career trajectories since completing a PhD, and how PhDs from all disciplines can strategize a career in environmental and climate science nonprofits. Panelists include:

  • Laura Bozzi, (PhD  Forestry & Environmental Studies, Yale University,), Director of Programs of the Yale Center on Climate Change and Health
  • Nathaniel Keohane, (PhD, Political Economy and Government, Harvard University) President of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, a leading, independent voice for practical policy and action to address the world’s energy and climate challenges
  • Benjamin Strauss (Ph.D. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University), President and CEO of Climate Central

Watch the Recorded Session Here

Session V: Opportunities in Health Research and Advocacy






May 3rd  3:30-5pm

The career possibilities in health research and advocacy are vast, particularly in the nonprofit sector where nearly half of all nonprofits have a health driven mission to their organization. Our panelists today offer two contrasting career paths towards nonprofit careers in health advocacy. Take advantage of the wealth and experience of our insightful panelists:

  • Louis J DeGennaro, CEO of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the worlds largest voluntary health agency dedicated to fighting blood cancers.
  • Rebecca Tamarchak (PhD Yale, Cell Biology and Immunology),  Senior Director, Strategy and Governance at Ontario Institute for Cancer Research 

Watch the Recorded Session Here


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