Professor Melissa Stone Recognized for Career’s Work on Nonprofit Management 

November 12, 2020
Portrait of Melissa Stone
Professor Emerita Melissa Stone has received the 2020 Award for Distinguished Achievement and
Leadership in Nonprofit and Voluntary Action Research from ARNOVA. Photo: Josh Kohanek

Described as one of the leading scholars of governance in nonprofit organizations, Humphrey School Professor Emerita Melissa Stone is being honored for her research and expertise in the field by the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA).  

Stone is the recipient of the 2020 Award for Distinguished Achievement and Leadership in Nonprofit and Voluntary Action Research, which is given annually to recognize significant and sustained contributions to the field through research and leadership. ARNOVA is an organization of scholars, educators, and practitioners in the field of nonprofit and philanthropic research. 

Stone retired from the Humphrey School in May after 23 years of research and teaching in the leadership and management area. During that time she served in a variety of important roles including Gross Family Professor of Nonprofit Management, former director of the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center, and director of graduate studies for the Nonprofit Management Certificate Program.

Colleagues who nominated her for the award describe Stone as “an internationally recognized scholar of nonprofit management, and an outstanding leader in the field of philanthropic and nonprofit studies.” Her scholarship in the 1980s and 1990s provided an essential benchmark for understanding the functioning of nonprofit boards. 

"Having begun her deeply impactful career with nearly a decade spent founding and directing two direct service nonprofits, Melissa’s scholarly career has remained grounded in a dedication to the nonprofit and voluntary sector, building scholarly work and academic institutions designed to innovate and push boundaries around what is possible,” wrote Humphrey School Assistant Professor Carrie Oelberger in her nomination letter. “Throughout all of this, she has patiently, humbly, and delicately offered mentorship to expand, diversify, and strengthen our field." 

Stone has also been recognized as a top-notch teacher. She received the Humphrey School’s Best Teacher in a Core Course Award four times between 1997 and 2011, and she was named its teacher of the year for 2016–2017. At the University level, she received the 2007–2008 Award for Outstanding Contributions to Postbaccalaureate, Graduate, and Professional Education.

Stone says it’s an honor to receive this award from ARNOVA, an association that she has been a part of for 35 years. 

“Perhaps because of my prior experience as a founder and executive director [of nonprofit organizations] who flew by the seat of my pants, I have always been committed to teaching as well as curriculum development,” Stone said in her acceptance remarks. “I view teaching about nonprofit management as more than presenting a set of tools and techniques. Teaching provides important opportunities for students to grapple with some of the big questions facing our field.”

Those big questions revolve around effective management of complex entities such as nongovernmental organizations, civil society organizations, and large international organizations such as the United Nations and the World Bank. 

Stone’s research interests have expanded over the years, to include work with Professor John Bryson and Associate Professor Emerita Barbara Crosby examining cross-sector collaborations; and with Oelberger exploring the changing role nonprofits and civil society organizations are playing in democracies around the world.

Stone accepted her award during this week’s virtual ARNOVA annual conference.