Angela Bies, endowed associate professor of global philanthropy and nonprofit leadership, comes to the University of Maryland School of Public Policy with an extensive background in nonprofit management, philanthropy and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Before coming to SPP, she was the chair of the faculty, associate professor and director of international programs at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Prior to joining academia, Bies served as a nonprofit executive for Charities Review Council in Minnesota, director of the Minnesota Women’s Center, and deputy director for the American Field Service. Her interest in nonprofits started when she majored in music during her undergraduate studies.
“I started out my career through music,” Bies says. “I was a voice major and I basically sang my way through college. During that experience, I was part of a U.S. Senate-sponsored exchange in the former Soviet Union and it changed my life. It changed my world view. And I really believed that the arts were a vehicle for social change and human interaction that could overcome all sorts of boundaries and conflicts, and that was how I initially became interested in nonprofit organizations.”
Bies also had a life-changing experience serving in the Peace Corps. “I served in Kenya, and that was the most moving, intellectually-stimulating, personally-rewarding, transformational experience I could have asked for,” she says. “It changed my life and my desires and the way I sought meaning in the world.” She began pursuing her doctoral degree at the University of Minnesota while working full-time as an executive director.
What feels to me like the greatest privilege of all is to teach students who truly want to make the world a better place by developing their own skills.Angela Bies Endowed Associate Professor of Global Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership
She adds that over time she became increasingly interested in organizations and nonprofit organizations and their role in the policy process. “I’m interested fundamentally in questions about how we structure the nonprofit sector, how the nonprofit sector relates to the state and government, and how the regulatory environment operates relative to the development of the nongovernmental sector and philanthropy,” Bies says.
In pursuit of those interests, Bies has been involved recently in a multi-year project to look at the development of philanthropy in China. She co-organized the China Philanthropy Summit at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis at the end of October. “At the heart of my interests is the role that NGOs play in changing people’s lives through the policy process, through service delivery, and also through the role that the NGO sector plays in giving citizens a voice,” Bies adds.
Her passion for nonprofits runs deep and she says she hopes to bring that passion to the UMD School of Public Policy. “What feels to me like the greatest privilege of all is to teach students who truly want to make the world a better place by developing their own skills,” she says. “I’m very grateful that I get to do research, and I’m very grateful for the NGOs and professionals who collaborate in this research, but I’m also really grateful to be able to teach students and see their success in the world, to see them change over the years, and to see their accomplishments.”
Bies, who came to SPP in August, says she will focus on two paths here. “One path will be to focus on expanding our global philanthropy and NGO management courses to complement our existing domestic courses,” she says. “I’m going to be teaching our giving course with an international NGO focus this spring. I will also regularly develop study abroad courses where students can have transformational, applied experiences.” She adds that she also looks forward to working with the School’s Do Good Institute. She also hopes to help mentor doctoral students.
“I think the School of Public Policy offers a really important opportunity for students to create a lifelong community,” she says. “This is a launching off place, but it’s also a place that I hope our alumni will always think of as home and as a resource.”