Press Releases Syracuse University’s Shena Ashley to Succeed Elizabeth Boris, Founder of Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy
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Stu Kantor, (202) 261-5283,

WASHINGTON, DC, December 9, 2015—Shena Ashley, an assistant professor at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, will become the new director of the Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy (CNP) in January. 

Ashley’s specialties include philanthropic studies, nonprofit management and finance, government–nonprofit relations, and community economic development. She began teaching in Syracuse’s Department of Public Administration and International Affairs in 2009. Before that, she was an assistant professor at Georgia State University and the director of research and policy at the Annie E. Casey Foundation Atlanta Civic Site. Her career included five years of training as an agricultural economist with the US Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Ashley earned a doctorate in public policy from Georgia State University and Georgia Institute of Technology. She has numerous scholarly publications and is, most recently, a coauthor of Public Administration in the Context of Global Governance.

“I am delighted to bring Shena to Urban’s leadership team,” said Sarah Rosen Wartell, president of the Urban Institute. “Shena impressed us with the dynamism, knowledge, and vision to shape an exciting next chapter for CNP. She will capitalize on the strong foundation built by Elizabeth Boris and CNP scholars in bringing insights from community-level engagement to cities and to philanthropy, and in crafting new approaches for assessing the impact of social investments.”

Ashley succeeds Elizabeth Boris, who founded the center in 1996. Boris announced in the spring her intention to retire from her director position and shift into a new role as an Institute fellow, and she was deeply engaged in the search for her successor. Boris recently became the Waldemar A. Nielsen Chair in Philanthropy at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, where she is a visiting professor of practice.

“Shena is a superb choice to lead the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy,” said Boris. “She is an accomplished scholar with an impressive record of service and leadership. In keeping with Urban’s mission, she has proven the power of data and evidence to improve on-the-ground practice and policy. CNP is excited to welcome Shena as we celebrate twenty years of success and look forward to the future.”

“I am honored to build on the impressive legacy that Elizabeth has established with the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy, and particularly enthusiastic to lead the center at a time when advances in data infrastructure and research integration have brought such great opportunity to deepen the impact of private funders and public policy,” said Ashley.

The Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute conducts research on the nonprofit sector to inform decisionmakers in government, nonprofits, foundations, and business, and convenes forums for discussing emerging policy issues and potential policy options. Its National Center for Charitable Statistics creates research-quality databases of IRS information on nonprofits and provides those data to scholars, journalists, and the public for research and analysis.

The nonprofit Urban Institute is dedicated to elevating the debate on social and economic policy. For nearly five decades, Urban scholars have conducted research and offered evidence-based solutions that improve lives and strengthen communities across a rapidly urbanizing world. Their objective research helps expand opportunities for all, reduce hardship among the most vulnerable, and strengthen the effectiveness of the public sector.