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Alex Counts is the author of Changing the World Without Losing Your Mind: Leadership Lessons from Three Decades of Social Entrepreneurship (Rivertowns Books, 2019), an independent consultant to nonprofit organizations (including the India Philanthropy Alliance), an affiliated faculty of the Do Good Institute, and an adjunct lecturer at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy

In 1997 he established Grameen Foundation with the support of Nobel laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus and became its President and CEO. He did so after having worked in microfinance and poverty reduction for 10 years, mostly spent living in rural Bangladesh. He ran the organization for its first 18 years, and remains a friend and volunteer of Grameen Foundation. He served as the President and CEO of American India Foundation in 2016-2017. 

A Cornell University graduate, Counts’ commitment to poverty eradication deepened as a Fulbright scholar in Bangladesh, where he witnessed innovative poverty solutions being developed by Grameen Bank. He trained under Professor Muhammad Yunus, the founder and managing director of Grameen Bank, and co-recipient of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Since its modest beginnings, sparked by a $6,000 seed grant provided by Prof. Yunus (who was a founding board member and continues as a director emeritus), Grameen Foundation grew to become a leading international humanitarian organization.

In addition to his most recent books, Counts’ writings include Small Loans, Big Dreams: How Nobel Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus and Microfinance Are Changing the World and Voices from the Field. Counts has also been published in The Washington Post, the Stanford Social Innovation ReviewThe Miami HeraldThe Christian Science Monitor, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, and elsewhere. In 2007, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Horace Mann School. While at Cornell University, he received the John F. Kennedy Memorial Award, given annually by the Class of 1964 to the graduating senior who is the best example of the ideal of public service articulated by our 35th President.

Counts was a founding member of the Advisory Council of the Center for Financial Inclusion, and served for 12 years before becoming an member emeritus in May 2020.  He has served as the chairman of Fonkoze USA and co-chair of the Fonkoze Family Coordinating Committee—two governance bodies of the largest microfinance institution in Haiti. He was a founding member of and served as co-chair of the Microfinance CEO Working Group (which today is the Partnership for Responsible Financial Inclusion). He is a Court Appointed Special Advocate for foster children in the state of Maryland.  His blog, a main feature of his website, covers topics related to excellence in nonprofit management and related topics.

Before establishing Grameen Foundation, Counts served as the legislative director of RESULTS and as a regional project manager for CARE-Bangladesh. He loves listening to and promoting live music in intimate venues, especially blues and bluegrass, as well as other genres. He speaks Bengali and lives in Hyattsville, MD with his wife, Emily. 

Areas of Interest
  • Nonprofit leadership & management; social entrepreneurship; microfinance/financial inclusion; philanthropy; fundraising for nonprofit organizations
3 Credit(s)

Through discussions of contemporary trends, challenges and issues, this course provides an introduction to the nonprofit and NGO sectors, social innovation, and the leadership and management skills required to achieve social impact. The course will explore the history, theories, and roles of philanthropy, the nonprofit sector, and social innovation in societies and cultures. Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the process and principles of social entrepreneurship and social innovation. Additionally, the course will introduce students to topics in leadership, social innovation, resource development, community mobilization through networks, the role of policy-making in creating change, project management, and overall strategies for achieving social impact. The course will include mini hands-on learning experiences that allow them to apply key learning outcomes.
Schedule of Classes

3 Credit(s)

Nonprofit organizations, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), philanthropy, civil society and social entrepreneurs are major players in how public policy gets developed and implemented as well as how change occurs in the United States as well as countries around the world. In the United States alone, the nonprofit sector encompasses over a million organizations, annually reports trillions of dollars in revenue and assets, represents approximately ten percent of the workforce, annually generates over four hundred billion dollars through donations and volunteers, and is primarily funded by government. The nonprofit sector is so heavily intertwined with the public sector that government executives will find themselves interacting and partnering with nonprofits on a regular basis. Through discussions of contemporary trends, challenges and issues, this course provides an introduction to the nonprofit sector and the leadership and management skills required to achieve social impact. Permission required.
Schedule of Classes