We mourn the passing of Sharon Oster, a member of NCNE’s Research Advisory Network and a pioneering scholar and teacher in the field of nonprofit management and economics. Sharon’s impact was enormous and multifaceted. She was one of a distinguished core group of scholars who established the first academic center in nonprofit studies – the Program on Non-Profit Organizations (PONPO) at Yale in late 1970s and she later nurtured PONPO when she became dean of the School of Management at Yale. She wrote a pioneering book on the strategic management of nonprofits in which she explained how nonprofits could manage a portfolio of programs, some intended to generate net resources and others intended primarily for their mission impact. She was a master teacher, winning teaching awards at Yale, and contributing to high level nonprofit executive programs. She was able to talk theory and research to practicing managers and leaders, and to glean insights from practice to extend academic knowledge. I had the privilege of teaching with her in the National Arts Strategies program in the 1990s where she became a role model for me in my own efforts to apply knowledge from research and theory to the world of practice. Sharon also contributed key articles to publications I edited including the journal Nonprofit Management & Leadership and the Handbook of Research on Nonprofit Economics and Management (co-edited with Bruce Seaman). Sharon was a sweet person but also very strong, honest, brilliant and forthright. You could always count on her for help and good counsel on worthy projects, and for new insights and unvarnished candor when those were needed. Among many other groups and individuals who were privileged to know and work with Sharon, NCNE seeks to honor her legacy through its mission of connecting theory and research to the improvement of nonprofit management practice.
Dennis R. Young
June 2022