ACTS Executive Director, Michael Gosman, was the recipient of a Harvard Business School Club of Wisconsin’s scholarship to attend Harvard’s Nonprofit Management Program. Below is his reflection on the experience.

ACTS Executive Director Michael Gosman (Left) with other nonprofit leaders.

If my undergraduate and law school classes had been as stimulating as my return to school this summer, I would have saved a lot of money on coffee.

Thanks to a generous scholarship from the Harvard Business School Club of Wisconsin, I was honored and fortunate to represent ACTS Housing at the Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management Program at Harvard Business School.

A group of extraordinary professors from the business school’s Social Enterprise Initiative packed in a semester’s worth of knowledge on leadership and maximizing impact into seven busy days. Topics ranged from leading at times of change to human centered design, to operationalizing an organization’s mission. I left the week feeling reinvigorated and ready to put my learning into action at ACTS.

Outside the classroom, I learned just as much from my cohort of 9 “roomies”, who lead non-profit organizations on five different continents. ACTS Housing was in stellar company and it was rewarding to see the genuine excitement my roomies had for our innovative model and the work we are doing to help empower families through the homeownership process. I was humbled to learn about the incredible work they are all doing around the globe, as well.

A defining moment for me came when Professor Linda Applegate asked how we would feel if another organization entered our community and became a strong competitor. Some of my fellow students, all bright and with good intentions, initially thought of loss of market share and contemplated how they would remain afloat. I had a different interpretation.

I believe if another organization emerged and could help Milwaukee’s families successfully navigate the home buying process, I would welcome that — even if we lost some donations.  There is much work to be done in our city, and I welcome the opportunity to partner with groups that can support Milwaukee’s families.  And if a “competitor” develops a recipe that is clearly better than ours at transitioning renters to owners, I would want to join forces, rather than compete, for philanthropy dollars.

And the coffee would be on me.

The Harvard Business School Club of Wisconsin also sponsored Abby Andrietsch from Schools That Can, Carmen Petrie from Sojourner Family Peace Center, and Jonathan Jackson from Milwaukee Film to attend this or similar programs at Harvard this summer. It was an honor to be included among these strong leaders.

Acts Housing’s mission is to promote affordable home ownership that fosters a low-income family’s ability to be self-empowered, thereby reducing community blight, neighborhood deterioration, and poverty. Acts’ strategy is to generate home ownership opportunities for inner-city residents within a targeted neighborhood so that an entire community can be transformed and sustained. Acts’ team provides home buying services throughout the city of Milwaukee.
2414 W. Vliet St., Milwaukee, WI 53205 USA 391837474