Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management
The Axelson Center is now accepting applications for the Alford-Axelson Award for Nonprofit Managerial Excellence and the Excellent Emerging Organization Award. Click below for more information and to apply.

Career Mapping for Your Next Strategic Move Wednesday, April 11th
9 a.m. – Noon

Participate in three
eye-opening days of professional growth led by accomplished experts to enhance your skills, network with colleagues, develop your “personal board of directors” and create a 90-day action plan.

A Focus on Diversity
One Executive Director Tackles the Challenge
Rich Havard, pastor and executive director of the Inclusive Collective, a campus ministry housed at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), is passionate about radical inclusivity. Not familiar with the phrase? It’s a good one to add to your vocabulary. Radical inclusivity is the intentional inclusion of all persons – especially people who have traditionally lived at the margins of society. The Inclusive Collective has created a special niche in joining radical inclusivity with religious beliefs. Many would think that these are opposing notions, but Rich and the Inclusive Collective believe they are natural partners.

“We try to be intentional about not only being welcoming, but for people of diverse identities to have real power within our community and to be represented in leadership at a board level, in student leadership and at a pastoral level,” Rich, a BootCamp 2017 alum, told us in a recent interview. He stressed the openness of the Inclusive Collective to all – even for those questioning their faith.

We try to be intentional about not only being welcoming, but for people of diverse identities to have real power within our community to be represented in leadership at a board level and in student leadership level and in a pastoral level.


When it comes to creating a diverse environment – including all races, ethnicities, abilities and sexual orientations – Rich has a lot of experience. He is also adept at preaching sermons, pastoral care and crafting small group curriculum. But when he needed to grow his expertise in development, learn how to create a budget, and gain a greater understanding of growing and leading a board, Rich turned to the Axelson Center’s BootCamp. “Seminary does not teach you how to run a nonprofit, in fact, it doesn’t teach you anything about running a nonprofit.” The nonprofit side, Rich says, is the “muscle for ministry.” BootCamp helped him learn how to structure systems, manage budgets, engage the board, and augment skills that help him minister more effectively.

Rich’s dedication to diversity and to growing his expertise has helped the Inclusive Collective better serve its community. One sign of the organization’s success is found in the people it has brought to the table. In addition to diversity in gender, race and sexual orientation, the Inclusive Collective has worked hard to bring people who have various skills to the power tables.

  Rich Havard’s work at the Inclusive Collective focuses on strengthening the organization’s Leadership and Governance, one of Axelson’s Hallmarks of Nonprofit Managerical ExcellenceSM.

Building a diverse board, for example, was “intentional because we need these voices at the table as we make decisions. We want people who are passionate about campus ministry and Jesus, but we also want people who have expertise in areas where I don’t and where other board members don’t.” This was a big shift. But making sure that the organization’s board members covered gaps was one way Rich helped the Inclusive Collective grow and improve. Rich recruits board members who can be their “full selves” when they join the board. “We’re not looking for ‘yes’ people – we’re looking for people who can make the Inclusive Collective the best ministry it can be.” We want to “create a vibrant, sustainable, active ministry and if we’re going to do that, we need voices at the table that are willing to challenge the status quo and are willing to participate in order to make this happen.”

The Inclusive Collective’s home base within UIC also helps. In addition to being named a top 30 LGBTQ-friendly university, 40% of UIC’s students are first-generation college students, and it is exceptionally diverse. “This place is a microcosm of what our country is becoming. We have a real opportunity here to experiment and imagine what it means to do church in a place that the US is going to look like in a couple of decades. I consider it an honor to get to do that in an institution that’s very unique in the higher education landscape in our country.”

Rich acknowledges that building a truly diverse organization is hard work, but with dedication to the cause, the engagement of the Inclusive Collective’s community, and the support of external organizations like the Axelson Center to grow skills, Rich is leading his organization towards a richer, more colorful future.