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Business sense, with a heart

UND celebrates national Nonprofit Awareness Month with two new Hall of famers and an enhanced mission to combine community service with business chops

Al Royce
Al Royse, a UND alumnus and national chairman of the American Heart Association, recently was induced into the Department of Accountancy’s Hall of Fame along with fellow alum, Jeff Gendreau, a partner with the national accounting firm, Baker Tilly Virchow Krause. Both men are strong advocates for nonprofit organizations. Photo Courtesy of the American Heart Association.

In light of November being national Nonprofit Awareness Month, UND’s business and nonprofit education communities have a few more reasons to celebrate.

The UND College of Business & Public Administration (CoBPA) Department of Accountancy recently added two new outstanding alumni to its Hall of Fame, and both are leaders on the nonprofit stage nationally: Al Royse, national chairman of the American Heart Association; and Jeff Gendreau, a nonprofit leader at his company, Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, a national accounting and advisory firm with more than 30 offices in in 13 states.

While back on campus recently, Royse and Gendreau addressed attendees of UND’s Nonprofit Leadership Luncheon. Before roughly 150 local nonprofit organization, student, staff and faculty attendees, Gendreau and Royse were each given a chance to speak about their experiences and passion for the nonprofit sector.

“I believe they’re (nonprofits) one of the five essential elements, along with the branches of government and the press, in terms of governance of this country,” Royse said.

Royse continued, saying he felt the impact nonprofits make, from an economic and service standpoint, is incredible.

“In the United States, there are 1.5 million nonprofits, 75 million volunteers and paid employees, $1.7 trillion [in revenue and expenses], over 5 percent of our GDP. Tremendous impact,” Royse said. But more importantly, from a mission standpoint, they fulfill the need and do things that otherwise wouldn’t get done, whether it’s healthcare, underprivileged youth, the homeless or affordable housing. You run the gamut, and they are fulfilling a need. It’s a critical part of who we are.”

Gendreau took time to laud a recent change made at UND that takes advantages of inherit synergies and overlap between traditional businesses and nonprofits.

Jeff Gendreau
UND alumnus Jeff Gendreau addresses attendees of UND’s Nonprofit Leadership Luncheon, where he spoke about his experiences and passion for the nonprofit sector before roughly 150 local nonprofit organization, student, staff and faculty attendees. Photo Courtesy of the College of Business and Public Administration.

This fall, UND keyed on this overlap by moving its Nonprofit Leadership Program from the College of Arts & Sciences to the CoBPA to better serve the growing demand for “social-purpose leaders with a business-thinking prospective,” According to Heather Helgeson, program director.

“I think it’s a great thing for the College because it will create many opportunities, especially for students,” Gendreau said.

Royse agreed: “the connectivity that can now exist between those programs that are now relatively close to one another will be beneficial to both the business and nonprofit students.”

“I think nonprofit organizations are desperate, in some sense, when it comes to having the right talent to assist with financial accounting and recording types of matters,” Gendreau said.

Royse concluded by saying nonprofits are part of the American DNA.

“That is who we are,” he said. “We give, we volunteer and we contribute back. We are a blessed nation and blessed people. Not only is it a part of our DNA, from my perspective, it’s part of our responsibility as citizens.”