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  • Abby Finafrock

Flynn Dedicates Course to Lester Salamon

Dr. Flynn photographed by Abigail Finafrock

In a time when conflict prevails and citizens feel disempowered, the nonprofit sector is needed now more than ever. At Mount St. Mary’s, Dr. Patrice Flynn is dedicating BUS 394: The Business of the Nonprofit Sector to the late Dr. Lester Salamon, who passed away on Aug. 20, 2021.

“Dr. Salamon is a luminary in the field of global civil society,” said Flynn. His vast scholarly work, empirical analysis and intellectual contributions over the past 40 years transformed our understanding of nonprofit sector activities in the U.S. and around the world.

Salamon established the Institute for Policy Studies and Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He and his colleagues are notable for developing the structured operational definition of the nonprofit sector, which was adopted by the United Nation’s Statistical Commission and the International Labour Organization.

He dedicated his life to working with global scholars and practitioners to uplift under-appreciated, untapped and unexplained emerging forms of philanthropy that he realized could be leveraged for social and economic good.

In recognition of Salamon’s tremendous contributions, Flynn dedicated the Mount’s new course, The Business of the Nonprofit Sector, to Salamon.

“His gifts to our knowledge base are rich and plentiful. We will miss him greatly,” Flynn expressed.

May his scholarly research, innovative thinking and projects, teachings and passion for global civil society live on in all the Mount students who take this seminar with Flynn in the years to come.

Flynn’s own experience in the nonprofit sector is extensive. Prior to joining the Mount, Flynn was an economist and empirical researcher at the Urban Institute and Vice President for Research at Independent Sector, the leadership forum for U.S. charitable organizations and private foundations.

She developed a great interest in expanding our national statistical system to collect data that provide a portrait of the size, scope and dynamics of the nonprofit sector in the U.S. Earlier, she used her skills as a clinical social worker to run health and human service relief programs in places like Rwanda and Mauritania.

Flynn said, “I am often asked to volunteer for nonprofit organizations, donate money, and serve on boards of directors. How do business people learn to be effective volunteers and philanthropists and select organizations that merit our time and attention? This new seminar is a great place to help students begin to answer these questions.”

Flynn knew and worked with Salamon as well. He was her mentor, boss and colleague over the last three decades. They first met working at the Urban Institute, a D.C.-based nonpartisan think tank, after which Salamon hired her as a research associate and professor at Hopkins, which she enjoyed immensely. They offered a program for international graduate students to study in the United States and learn how to set up, run and evaluate nonprofit programs around the world.

Flynn expressed that, “co-teaching graduate students with Les was a blast! He had a sharp mind, a great whit, tremendous respect for students, and a passion for the sector. He is a luminary in global civil society, probably the most well-known scholar in the field.”

Salamon always touted civil society as the “resilient” sector, able to adapt as human conditions evolve. Professor Flynn believes he would be impressed with how well the Mount adapted through the coronavirus pandemic to allow us to keep the teacher-student relationships alive and our campus doors open.

By honoring Salamon, we are honoring all those who dedicate their lives and resources to ensure that nonprofit organizations, like Mount St. Mary’s University, are able to meet the emerging needs in society.


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