No matter which part of the growing human services field people work in — child welfare, aging, mental health, homelessness, intellectual disabilities or others — they have specific skill sets such as social worker or substance abuse counselor.
As the human services field expands, more such professionals are getting promoted into management. But they lack the skill set needed for administration, and consequently many get frustrated, and often fail. For this reason, National Louis University is launching the Master of Science in Human Services Management program, slated to start in Fall 2017.
Need a different skill set
“It’s frustrating for human services professionals who get promoted to management, because while they’ve been excellent in their roles, they may never have faced a nonprofit board of directors or a licensing entity or done strategic planning or regulatory compliance or risk management, or dealt with the media or prepared a budget,” said Mark Doyle, who will launch and lead the program.
Doyle has 38 years of deep experience in the human services field, having worked in academia, government, nonprofits and his own consulting business. He envisions NLU’s program as a powerful resource for people who are already working in human services organizations and want to move up, or who have recently been promoted. It will also be valuable to those who hold a bachelor’s degree in fields such as human services or applied behavioral sciences who want to prepare for a managerial career.
It’s also a good fit for career changers.
“If someone has worked in other fields but feels a calling toward human services, we may be able to give them credit for prior knowledge,” Doyle said.
Helping managers be accountable to people they serve
The program will consist of 12 classes, most in a blended format with online work and some on-campus meetings. Students take one class at a time, and can complete the program in as little as seven academic quarters, or about 19 months. A capstone course will permit students to work on a real-time issue in a human services organization.
“We want the program to be a resource for human services organizations, so that their employees new to management can prepare to be efficient stewards of the money the organizations get from public sources, and be more accountable to the people they serve,” Doyle explained.
Graduates of the program will be in demand at human services organizations which want to have a backup plan as an executive director prepares to retire, or in case middle managers should unexpectedly leave.
Hands-on skills for managers
The program is geared toward teaching hands-on skills human services managers need.
Many other universities offer only one or two management courses in their undergraduate human services programs. NLU’s program is unique in that it offers graduate classes on various aspects of management.
Doyle, who holds a master of science degree in education from Southern Illinois University, worked as a project manager and senior staff member overseeing human services projects for the Office of former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn from 2011 to 2015.
He also consulted in human services for the state of Georgia and in Illinois, overseeing the successful merger of two human services agencies, assisting another community provider with the development of its strategic plan and the development of a data management system. He led another community service provider’s senior management staff in re-thinking their service delivery to align with the changing environment and external marketplace demands.
Doyle has served as executive director and in other management positions at human services organizations, and has served on human services agency boards. He has taught at National Louis University, DePaul University and Northern Illinois University.