FAQs for PMA’s Mastermind Program

March 2021

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What is PMA's Mastermind Program? 

The need for agile nonprofit leadership has never been greater. Unfortunately, individuals in the nonprofit sector so often do not receive the professional development they need to advance towards their leadership goals.    

PMA is committed to responding to this need for targeted leadership development coaching and training; as a result, we have launched PMA's Mastermind Leadership Development Program to accelerate Your Path to Nonprofit Leadership

During a four-month period, participants in our Mastermind Program will join seven virtual sessions that combine the advantages of one-on-one coaching with the accountability of a small group of motivated peers. 

Although each Mastermind Program is customized to fit the needs of the current cohort, some highlights include:  

  • Developing a personalized Vision Framework to guide Your Path to Nonprofit Leadership for the next 1, 3, and 5 years 
  • Assessing your 10 Essential Skills and Experiences for nonprofit leadership 
  • Receiving a Curated List of Resource Material designed to guide your professional development curriculum 
  • Identifying and recruiting your Personal Board of Directors
  • Designing a Personal Planning Retreat 


Who is PMA's Mastermind Program designed for?

PMA's Mastermind Program is designed for nonprofit leaders with at least 5 years of experience who are serious about advancing their skills in the sector and advancing to "the next level" of leadership. In our first two cohorts (Fall 2020 and Spring 2021), we have had nonprofit leaders with varying titles - from Senior Development Officers to Executive Directors. 

A cohort in a Mastermind Program will consist of 6-8 participants. This small group size ensures that participants receive adequate individualized coaching, while also expanding their network and increasing accountability/feedback during the program. 

How is the program organized?

Facilitation of PMA's Mastermind Program is based on the seven pillars of Your Path to Nonprofit Leadership, which will come out in book form, authored by Patton McDowell, in 2021 (Advantage/Forbes Book Publishing). 

During the seven 2-hour virtual sessions, Patton will coach participants through the pillars and provide information for each pillar that is customized to fit the needs of each leadership path. 

Examples of the seven pillars include: 

  • Sharpen Your Vision - this first pillar involves setting a proactive direction for Your Path to Nonprofit Leadership. Highlights include: 
    • Scheduling a personal retreat to reflect on personal and professional goals
    • Writing your personalized Vision Framework 
  • Get in Shape - one of the needs we consistently hear from clients is maximizing productivity given the demands of the nonprofit sector. Highlights include:  
    • Learning about rituals and systems, based on best practices from productivity research, that maximize the ROI for your time  
    • Developing your Big Three Scorecard to increase your effectiveness 
  • Build Community - nonprofit professionals often hear about the need to "build a network," but what does that really mean? With this pillar, we will cover the specifics of strategic networking and what that should look like for each individual. Highlights include: 
    • Establishing a Personal Board of Directors 
    • Targeting specific mentoring/coaching opportunities that fit your needs 

Other specific topics we will cover include how to effectively lead your team (including conducting effective meetings), maximizing data for nonprofit success, and building a culture of philanthropy. 

Who facilitates PMA's Mastermind Program? 

Dr. Patton McDowell is the primary facilitator for PMA's Mastermind Program. Patton founded PMA in 2009 and has 30 years of nonprofit experience; he and his colleagues have worked with over 235 nonprofit organizations in a wide range of sectors. Patton has extensive experience coaching staff, board members, and leaders in nonprofits. His podcast Your Path to Nonprofit Leadership has over 90 episodes and his book on the same topic is forthcoming in Spring of 2021. 

While Patton will be the primary facilitator and coach, we will also bring in carefully-selected guest speakers (such as other PMA consultants and/or nonprofit leaders who have been guests on the podcast) for certain topics and for bonus content to maximize your exposure to nonprofit leaders. 

Who has participated in PMA's Mastermind Program so far? 

PMA has had two cohorts of extremely successful, diverse, and dedicated nonprofit leaders during the Fall of 2020 and Spring of 2021. These individuals have embraced the Mastermind concept, applauded the virtual format of the program, and continue to express how thrilled they are to have taken this time for themselves given their busy senior leadership positions. 

Our Fall 2020 Cohort:

Carrie Bhada, Associate Vice Chancellor, NC State University 

Tiffany Capers, Executive Director, Crossroads Corporation

Hannah Dickerson, Vice President of Advancement, Wingate University

Ken Fuquay, President/CEO, LIFESPAN Incorporated

Todd Hartung, Director of Advancement, Cannon School

Amanda Schneider, Senior Development Officer, Renaissance West Community Initiative

Michelle Spreitzer, Director of Philanthropy, The Lotus Campaign

Michael Ward, Executive Director, NC Textile Foundation, NC State University

Our Spring 2021 Cohort:

Sarah Lanners Avinger, Director of Philanthropy, YWCA Central Carolinas To read more about the inaugural cohort, click here.

Kelley Downey, Executive Director, Musical Empowerment 

Jaclyn Hage, Director of Development, NC Textile Foundation, NC State University 

David Ibsen, Director of Development, Cannon School

Patrick Lynch, Director of Development, College of Engineering, The Ohio State University

Alec Macaulay, Director of Development, Childcare Resources of Indian River

Judi North, Director of Development, ANSWER Scholarship

Amy Tribble, Director of Development, Council for Children's Rights


What criteria will be used to put together each cohort?

Application to PMA's Mastermind Program is open to individuals working in nonprofits with at least 5 years of leadership experience. Due to the fact that sessions take place virtually, we do not have geographic restrictions for applicants. 

PMA is committed to having a diverse and dynamic membership for our Mastermind Program. We seek to have representation from a cross section of the nonprofit community including different sectors, ethnic/minority groups, and genders. 

In reviewing applications, PMA's Selection Committee looks for potential participants who demonstrate the following: 

  • Commitment to advance their career in the nonprofit sector 
  • Motivation to participate in extracurricular professional development  
  • Ability to make the time commitment required by the program 

What kind of commitment is required?

The value of the "cohort model" is reliant on every member in the group being committed to advancing on their Path to Nonprofit Leadership as well as providing support and feedback to other participants in the cohort.

Participation in PMA's Mastermind Program requires a commitment of both time and energy during the seven 2-hour sessions as well as between the sessions; we will ask that you complete carefully selected, manageable 'assignments' in the 3-4 weeks between sessions to maximize the return on your time investment. 

Since the success of the program depends on the full commitment of each participant, we ask that all participants be prepared to attend all seven sessions, arrive at the virtual session on time, and participate fully. Since there are only seven sessions, missing "just" two sessions would mean that participants have missed out on 30% of the program; we recognize that emergencies do arise, but we expect participants minimize "unexcused absences."  


When will this program start? How long will it take? When will the sessions take place? 

We are currently accepting applications for our Mastermind Program in Summer 2021 (may to August), Fall 2021 (September-December), and Spring 2022 (January-April). There will be 7 virtual sessions that take place over 4 months for each cohort; see below for tentative dates. 


Summer 2021 Season:

  • Session 1: Week of May 10, 2021
  • Session 2: Week of May 24, 2021
  • Session 3: Week of June 7, 2021
  • Session 4: Week of June 21, 2021
  • Session 5: Week of July 5, 2021
  • Session 6: Week of July 19, 2021
  • Session 7: Week of August 2, 2021

Fall 2021 Season: 

  • Session 1: Week of September 13, 2021
  • Session 2: Week of September 27, 2021
  • Session 3: Week of October 11, 2021
  • Session 4: Week of October 25, 2021
  • Session 5: Week of November 8, 2021
  • Session 6: Week of November 29, 2021
  • Session 7: Week of December 13, 2021
Spring 2022 Season:
  • Session 1: Week of January 24, 2022
  • Session 2: Week of February 7, 2022
  • Session 3: Week of February 21, 2022
  • Session 4: Week of March 7, 2022
  • Session 5: Week of March 21, 2022
  • Session 6: Week of April 4, 2022
  • Session 7: Week of April 18, 2022

The seven 2-hour virtual coaching sessions will be conducted via Zoom. Based on our inaugural cohort, we believe sessions will continue to take place during lunchtime (i.e. 11:30am-1:30pm), but we are open to meeting the scheduling needs of each cohort. 

Are the sessions closed and confidential?

All sessions will be limited to only those 6-8 individuals in the cohort. This will provide a confidential setting to discuss leadership challenges while expanding your network. Confidentiality, trust, and integrity are of utmost importance to Patton and PMA when it comes to providing coaching to clients. 

How do I apply? 

We are excited that you are ready to accelerate your journey on Your Path to Nonprofit Leadership by participating in PMA's Mastermind Program. 

Applications are accepted year-round for upcoming Mastermind Programs (a new cohort of 6-8 individuals will begin in May + September 2021 and January 2022). Even though applications are accepted year-round, we do have deadlines for each season:

  • Deadline to apply for Summer 2021: Friday, May 7th
    Deadline to apply for Fall 2021: Friday, August 27th
    Deadline to apply for Spring 2022: Friday, January 7th

To fill out an application please click here

The application is an online form (via SurveyMonkey) that will take you less than 10 minutes to complete. It will ask you about your current role, why you're interested in the Mastermind Program, detail the commitment involved, and allow us to gather some initial information about your scheduling preferences should you be accepted. 

We will confirm that your application has been received as soon as possible and will evaluate applications for the upcoming season 2-3 weeks prior to each start date.  


What take-aways/deliverables can I expect?

At the end of PMA's Mastermind Program, we are confident you will have a personal strategic plan to guide your leadership journey over the next 1, 3, and 5 years that will accelerate your Path to Nonprofit Leadership. Other takeaways include: 

  • The design of a Personal Planning Retreat 
  • A personalized Vision Framework to guide Your Path to Nonprofit Leadership for the next 1, 3, and 5 years 
  • An assessment of your 10 Essential Skills and Experiences for nonprofit leadership 
  • A Curated List of Resource Material designed to guide your professional development curriculum 
  • A strategy to identify and recruit your Personal Board of Directors

In addition, you will receive a Mastermind Leadership Development Certificate, along with specific language to include on your LinkedIn/resume, which will help you stand out amongst the competition for future leadership positions. 

What else do I get?

Before the program begins, each participant will receive a welcome packet with materials you'll use and carefully curated book selections from the PMA Library. 

After the program concludes, in addition to the aforementioned takeaways/deliverables, you will have access to a resource library with bonus content and also receive invitations to future networking opportunities with prominent nonprofit leaders. 


How much does PMA's Mastermind Program cost?

Tuition for PMA's Mastermind Program is $950, which covers all costs for the seven 2-hour small group coaching sessions, program materials, and support by email/phone as needed. Based on our market research, similar leadership development programs cost up to $3000. 

We are also offering those who are interested in receiving additional 1:1 coaching a "Premium" option for $1,250. The Premium option comes with three additional one-hour 1:1 coaching sessions with Patton to be used at your discretion. For example, you could use an additional coaching session during the Mastermind Program to receive more targeted coaching on a particular topic, or perhaps at a later date when a leadership opportunity comes available and you'd like to get coaching for how to ace the interview. *Please note, it is possible to "upgrade" to the Premium pricing option at any time. For example, should you be selected for the program and elect the Basic membership initially, but decide after a few of the class sessions that you're interested in additional 1:1 coaching, you can upgrade to receive the 3 additional coaching sessions. 

Tuition may be paid in one lump sum or divided into two payments. Tuition is non-refundable; if you drop out of the program for any reason, we expect you to honor your financial commitment since there is no opportunity for us to fill vacant spots once the program has begun. 


Are there financial aid and/or scholarships available?

We expect many employers will underwrite the cost because of the value for their employees, and ultimately their organization. However, partial scholarships are available and will be awarded, on a discretionary basis, based on need (these individual conversations will take place after a cohort has been selected for each program). 

In the event a scholarship is not available, we are willing to work out payment plans with participants on a case-by-case basis. If you have questions about financial aid/the cost of the Mastermind Program, please email when you complete your application. 

Do you have another question that wasn't answered here? Email and we'll get back to with an answer or schedule time to discuss your question via conference call.  

Are you ready to get started on Your Path to Nonprofit Leadership? Click here to apply to PMA's Mastermind Program.