About Butler

The FirstPerson MBA Board Fellows

Board FellowsFirstPerson Logo

The College of Business (COB) prepares students to be outstanding citizens within their communities, as well as great business leaders. In keeping with this promise, the COB has developed the FirstPerson Board Fellows program which provides graduate students the opportunity to monitor the activities of a board of directors within an exemplary community organization. The mission of the FirstPerson Board Fellows program is to:

  • Enrich Butler's real life, real business curriculum by providing the Fellows with the unique, hands-on, community-leadership experience of serving on a nonprofit board in the area of advocacy/economic development, arts/culture, sports/recreation, and human services.
  • Foster a lifelong interest in community service by educating and exposing the Fellows to the world of nonprofits.
  • Be a highly sought-after resource for Indianapolis nonprofits tackling strategic, organizational, and operational issues.

Fellows observe firsthand how non-profit boards and their committees operate.  Board participation varies by organization; however, each board fellow completes a project for the organization for which they serve.  Fellows receive course credit for participating in this program.

Benefits ~ More Information


Board service provides Fellows the opportunity to impact the nonprofit sector while still pursuing their full-time careers. Specific benefits include:

  • Insight into the differing roles of board members and nonprofit managers and the challenges and rewards of board service
  • Enthusiasm and passion for continued community leadership throughout their careers
  • Practical experience to help them better understand strategic and tactical issues facing nonprofit boards
  • Opportunity to integrate tools learned in the classroom with real-world application
  • Experience in managing and completing a consulting project
  • Development of mentor relationships with members of successful boards
  • Development of personal leadership skills

The Board Fellows program provides a way for resource-constrained organizations to tap into the valuable business skills and fresh insights of the FirstPerson MBA Fellows. Specific benefits to these organizations include:

  • Use of Fellows' professional experiences and academic backgrounds to solve strategic, organizational, and operational issues that enhance the work of the board
  • Access to future business leaders and board members with fresh perspectives
  • Affiliation with a respected business school
  • Perspective to be gained from someone who is likely to be a younger age than most of the organization's regular board members.

Organization Expectations ~ More Information

Organization Expectations

  • Select a member of the board to serve as the Fellow's Board Liaison
  • Select a senior staff member to guide the student's project work.
  • Help Fellow develop an understanding of the nonprofit's goals and challenges
  • Invite Fellow to full and advisory board meetings and introduce to other board members
  • Choose one committee on which Fellow will participate
  • Work with Fellow to identify a project relevant to the work of the board that can be meaningfully completed and that utilizes the Fellow's business skills
  • Provide the data or other information needed for the Fellow to complete the project
  • Raise any potential issues or questions to the Board Fellows program contact immediately

Student Expectations ~ More Information

Student Expectations

  • Attend all board meetings
  • Participate in board meetings and on a board committee
  • Be proactive in ensuring a positive experience with the organization
  • Work with Board Liaison to identify and deliver a suitable project to be completed
  • Attend all Board Fellow orientation and training sessions
  • Enroll in MBA 594 in spring semester, for a total of 2 credits
  • Communicate with Board Liaison, Board Chair, or organizational contact regarding inability to attend meetings or other difficulties
  • Deliver final presentation to board or Board Fellows program

Time Commitment ~ More Information

Time Commitment

Each participating nonprofit organization must designate a board member who will serve as the Board Liaison for the Fellow. The Board Liaison orients the Fellow to the organization and helps the Fellow understand its mission, strategy, and challenges. The Board Liaison and senior staff member also work closely with the Fellow to identify a meaningful project for the organization. Generally, board members and staff members should expect to spend a total of 5-10 hours per month working with the Fellow.