A Heart for Nonprofits


Averi Haugesag

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

College of Business & Public Administration


National Chairman of the American Heart Association, Al Royse, and Partner at Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, Jeff Gendreau, give insight on the CoBPA’s new Nonprofit Leadership Program.

University of North Dakota College of Business & Public Administration (CoBPA) Department of Accountancy alumnus and National Chairman of the American Heart Association, Al Royse, is a strong supporter of the roles and impacts of nonprofits.

“I believe they’re one of the five essential elements along with the branches of government and the press in terms of governance of this country,” says Royse.

Royse feels the impact nonprofits make from both an economic and service standpoint is incredible.

“In the United States there are 1.5 million nonprofits, 75 million volunteers and paid employees, $1.7 trillion [in revenue and expenses], over 5 percent of our GDP. Tremendous impact. But more importantly, from a mission standpoint, they fulfill the need and do things that otherwise wouldn’t get done, whether it’s healthcare, underprivileged youth, the homeless, or affordable housing. You run the gamut, and they are fulfilling a need. It’s a critical part of who we are,” says Royse.

UND CoBPA Department of Accountancy alumnus and partner at Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, Jeff Gendreau, leads the non-profit team at his company. He feels there is a great deal of connectivity and overlap between the traditional business world and the world of nonprofits.

This fall, UND decided to make a change to accommodate for the overlap by moving the Nonprofit Leadership Program from the College of Arts & Sciences to the CoBPA. According to program Director, Heather Helgeson, the program made the move, “so it could be better poised to serve its growing demand for social purpose leaders with a business thinking prospective.”

The program is primarily directed toward students who want to acquire skills and enhance their qualifications for service in the nonprofit sector. Students can pursue either a 21-credit minor or an 18-credit certificate.

“I think it’s a great thing for the college because it will create many opportunities, especially for students,” says Gendreau.

“The connectivity that can now exist between those programs that are now relatively close to one another will be beneficial to both the business and nonprofit students,” says Royse.

Gendreau and Royse agree a business background is crucial to many nonprofits.

“I think nonprofit organizations are desperate in some senses when it comes to having the right talent to assist with financial accounting and recording types of matters,” says Gendreau.

And many other business-related aspects—all things the UND CoBPA can teach students.

On Oct. 13, 2016, Gendreau and Royse were inducted into the Department of Accountancy’s Hall of Fame. In addition, they served as speakers for the Nonprofit Leadership Luncheon. With roughly 150 local nonprofit organization, student, staff and faculty attendees, Gendreau and Royse were each given a chance to speak about their experiences and passion for the nonprofit sector.

“Nonprofits are part of the American DNA. That is who we are. We give, we volunteer and we contribute back. We are a blessed nation and blessed people. Not only is it a part of our DNA, from my perspective, it’s part of our responsibility as citizens,” says Royse.

“As Winston Churchill once said, ‘You make a living by what you get but you make a life by what you give,’” says Gendreau, “I think there’s no greater example of that than the relationships that exist between not-for-profits and the people that contribute time, talent and treasure.”

Relationships nonprofit leadership and business students now have the opportunity to be a part of themselves.