Training and Development for Non-Profits: The Road Less Taken?

by Vince Cyboran, Ed.D.

Once upon a time, there was a New Yorker cover entitled “View of the World from 9th. Avenue.” It depicted a map of the United States with the detail of NYC extending to the Hudson River, and then a vast almost no-man’s-land extending west to the Pacific Ocean. Mental maps–or models–of T&D locales are often analogous: the detailed corporate world on one side extending to a rather murky charitable organization nether land on the other. While it is true that much T&D work understandably occurs in the for-profit, corporate world, a closer look reveals that there is much T&D activity involving paid employees of and volunteers with non-profit organizations. Following are just a few of our graduates who are gainfully employed in non-profit organizations here in the Chicago area:

 annie g-j Annie Garvey Jagielski  

Instructional Designer and Teacher at the Downers Grove Public Library





Director, Educational Development at the Association Forum of Chicagoland

 IsabellKyrk-Group  Isabell Kyrk  

HRIS Analyst at Rotary International




Jay Semla


Professional Development Manager at Society of Actuaries


Lynette Washington


Distance Learning Program Specialist at Roosevelt University


We have also had students from all over the globe employed by museums and zoos, and, of course, by the government (municipality, county, state, and federal levels).  These students add much to our classes, offering a much-needed and expansive perspective of workplace learning and development. When casting your job-search net, consider including non-profits. You may just find the right fit for you.

Are you a graduate of one of our programs currently working for a non-profit? Please share your experiences by posting a comment.

Many thanks!


  • Yes, I left a position in the public, for profit sector in order to pursue an opportunity that has business purposes that are more closely related to meeting essential needs of others, that are important to me, personally. This experience as well as the MATD program has instilled a new desire within me, to pursue a PhD, and establish my own non profit organization, at some point within the next few years. I am confident that doing this will result in a more fulfilling life experience for myself and my family. Though taking this route, requires great amounts of personal sacrifice, I am hopeful that we will not only help many people along the way, we will live a more satisfying life, long term. This article is a great reminder of how training and development professionals cross over into multiple industries and can have a positive impact in for profit as well as non profit organizations.

  • I really appreciate this blog post. It lets me know that what I set out to do is not so uncommon. I am in my second semester in the program and I started getting a little bit of experience in training and development back in 2014 as an undergraduate student. While my experience and interests were in higher education/nonprofits, I was getting the impression that the only opportunities were in corporate. But this is very encouraging.

  • This is a great post because it reminds us that not all corporations are private and not all people desire to work in the private sector for reasons that are based on job satisfaction, passion for a cause and working to make a difference to contribute to society and not looking always at the bottom-line. People that work for Non-profit organizations do so because be their job because they love what they do and are and not driven by money. It is a noble gesture and very satisfying. I see that in my daughter who works for the American Library Association, she works hard, long hours, but would not have it any other way.

    Bertha A Navarro

  • This is a wonderful post! Thank you! Although I have one more semester of graduate school to go, I thought I would share my thoughts about this post. Currently, I work for a non-profit organization and there appear to be many changes in the non-profit world that offer more opportunities for profession development with the incorporation of training and development within non-profit organizations.

  • I will echo the thanks for this post! I am just starting the T&D program here at Roosevelt while working in a not-for-profit arts-education setting training artists, classroom teachers, and school administrators. It’s exciting to see the work others are doing in the NFP sector and I look forward to where the program and my personal path leads on this.

    Kristen Hansel

  • Hello Dr. Cyboran,
    I am currently in TRDV 499 – so the end is near! – and just last year re-entered the full time workforce as an Instructional Designer/Trainer at Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove, IL. All of my previous 15 years experience in T&D had been in the corporate world (banking/pharmaceutical) so working for a public organization, and high ed, is quite different! But everyday I am finding similarities because employees needs are the same wherever you work – leadership skills, management development, resolving conflict – and many more. The pace may be a little slower but the need for L&D professionals is strong, Thanks for posting! Maureen Yakovac

    • Hello Maureen,

      Thanks for pointing out the many similarities. As you say, L&D is needed in all types of organizations.


      Vince Cyboran

  • Dr. Cyboran you are definitely right. I have worked in Non-profit for 11 years now with various positions in the field of HIV Prevention and Intervention. I can remember when I started in non-profit in 2003 and there was hardly any mention of training within the organizations, outside of mandatory conferences required by certain funders. Now there is almost like a movement for training and development, however it is mostly referred to as capacity building. After having a position as a capacity building training specialist on a very big capacity building grant a couple of years ago, I realized that I wanted to be a consultant working in this field to get started. I figured being a SME in this field could only add to my marketability. E-Learning would be especially helpful to keep costs down compared to the fact most agencies send their employees out to be trained.

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