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Center for Nonprofits has new faculty director, associate director for research

February 2, 2012 By Doris Green

Two new appointments to the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Center for Nonprofits were announced this week by School of Human Ecology Dean Robin A. Douthitt.

Photo: Cynthia Jasper


Cynthia Jasper, Vaughan Bascom Professor of Women and Philanthropy, will serve as faculty director. She succeeds Shepherd Zeldin, Rothermel Bascom Professor of Human Ecology and founding faculty director of the center.

With research roots in consumer behavior and economics, Jasper has increasingly focused her scholarship on giving behavior for nonprofits, women’s leadership in philanthropy, and financial issues relating to the elderly.

Following the successful completion of her first five-year appointment, her Vaughan Bascom Professorship was renewed in 2008 for another five years.

Brian Christens, professor of community and nonprofit leadership, has been appointed as the center’s associate director for research.

He is a community psychologist who studies participation and empowerment in community and organizational settings. He connects community-based research with interdisciplinary community theory to create an ecological understanding of the ways that people, organizations, and communities interact and change as they take collective action.

In his new role, Christens plans to create and expand such projects as the Beckner Research Digests. With his leadership the center published this online series of reports, which synthesize and translate scholarly research from faculty across the university for use in community organizations. The project was supported by Human Ecology’s Meta Schroeder Beckner Endowment.

“Professors Jasper and Christens have demonstrated through their scholarship a commitment to philanthropy, community and organizational participation and empowerment,” Douthitt says.

They join Jeanan Yasiri, faculty associate and the center’s executive director, in leading center efforts. Yasiri remains responsible for developmental responsibilities within the center.