Jane Pisano to guide Master of Nonprofit Leadership and Management program
By Cristy Lytal
With more than 40 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, Jane Pisano is well prepared for her newest role at the USC Price School of Public Policy. Pisano will serve as the field representative for the school’s Master of Nonprofit Leadership and Management (MNLM) program.
“I’m going to be engaged in a process with the students and the faculty to make this program an outstanding example among the nonprofit programs nationwide,” said Pisano, who is also a professor and former dean of USC Price.
Shui Yan Tang, Chair of the Department of Governance, Management and the Policy Process at USC Price, expressed his gratitude that Pisano has assumed this new role. “With her extensive experience in nonprofit and academic leadership, Professor Pisano will be an invaluable resource for both our students and faculty,” he said.
Leadership and Service
Pisano’s first foray into academia was in 1972, when she began teaching at the School of Foreign Service and the Department of Government at Georgetown University, after earning her BA in political science from Stanford University and her MA and PhD degrees in international relations from Johns Hopkins University. From 1976 to 1977, she served as a White House Fellow for national security affairs on the National Security Council staff.
She then made the move to Los Angeles, the city to which she would dedicate much of her professional career. She helped Mayor Tom Bradley launch the 1980–81 bicentennial celebration, directed the programs and events sponsored by the Times Mirror Co. at the 1984 Olympic Games, and served as president of the Los Angeles 2000 strategic planning effort as well as head of the 2000 Partnership.
Pisano officially joined the Trojan Family in 1991, when she began a seven-year tenure as the dean of what was then the USC School of Public Administration. She led the school through a period of financial growth, collaborating with faculty to revamp the undergraduate and master of public administration degrees and to strengthen other degree programs as well.
Pisano also served as USC’s vice president for external relations and senior vice president for external relations. During this time, she conceptualized and launched USC’s Good Neighbors Campaign, which funds university-community partnerships for neighborhood improvements — ranging from educational opportunities to wellness programs.
In 2001, she became a good neighbor herself, as the president and director of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, located next door to USC in Exposition Park, as well as the La Brea Tar Pits and the Hart Ranch Museum. She increased museum attendance by nearly 70 percent, and guided the museum through the grand openings of Dinosaur Hall, the Age of Mammals, the interactive nature garden, and the new Otis Booth entrance hall.
After almost 15 years at the Natural History Museum, she transitioned to other important pursuits, including serving as the current president of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA).
“It’s an important organization,” Pisano said. “Local chapters and subject matter sections ensure that good state and local government ideas bubble up to be adopted by others. ASPA is a diverse organization with a lot of potential and, at its core, it is guided by a strong belief in the value of public service.”
Shaping Tomorrow’s Philanthropy
Drawing on all of these rich professional experiences, Pisano will provide an experienced practitioner’s perspective on the MNLM program.
“Jane brings an array of talents and accomplishments in leading philanthropic and nonprofit organizations to enrich communities and scale social impact,” said James M. Ferris, founding director of The Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy at USC. “Simply put, Jane has a treasure trove of experiences to share with our MNLM students about how you create change through philanthropy, nonprofit organizations and public-private partnerships.”
According to Pisano, her most important job as field representative for the MNLM program will be to listen to the experiences, hopes and needs of the faculty and students, who will shape the future of the nonprofit sector.
“It’s a very important sector in our country,” said Pisano. “It has grown dramatically since I started my career. There’s a lot to understand, and there’s a lot that the university can do to strengthen the sector through its course offerings, mentoring of students, and direct action that engages the talented students who are coming to USC.”