MEET EVA MCKNIGHT (MNAL '16)
- Master of Nonprofit Administration and Leadership, Levin College - Cleveland State University
- B.A. English Literature, Double Minor: Ancient Greek and Women's Studies, Denison University
Where are you currently residing?
Where are you from?
Rome, New York
- Position Title: Foundation Relations and Strategic Initiatives Coordinator
- Place of Employment: Providence House
- Job Duties: My position primarily entails grant writing and foundation relations. I also support event and fundraising efforts with our development team, and initiatives in our new strategic plan.
After completing my undergraduate studies, I took a position as an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) in a fundraising role with a school district outside of Sacramento, CA – we worked to foster greater parent engagement in their children’s education. Upon my return to Cleveland, I worked for the Sherwin-Williams Company, and found a volunteer outlet with the S-W Women's Club. I also volunteered on a weekly basis with the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center on their crisis helpline at the emergency shelter, and later in a support role to their development department. Volunteerism served as one catalyst that pushed me toward my current career path.
Why did you decide to attend Levin?
My undergraduate coursework and volunteerism propelled me toward the nonprofit sector, but I needed practical experience to be competitive. I was torn between another local program and Levin’s Master of Nonprofit Administration and Leadership (MNAL). Ultimately, I was drawn to the focus and flexibility of the coursework within the MNAL, the affordability of the program, and the impressive reputation of
What piece of advice do you have for current Levin graduate students?
As much as you can, dive in. I was fortunate to work at the Levin College while I completed my program, but there are so many opportunities to stay closely involved regardless. The Mentoring Program yielded great professional connections for me, as well as mustering up the courage to do informational interviews with community leaders and professors in my areas of interest. I also took advantage of an internship program through the Cleveland Foundation that led to my current position. I challenged myself to be more professionally adventurous, and expanded my network considerably during my time at Levin.
What was the most valuable lesson you learned at Levin?
I came away with a stronger sense of pride in my city, but also a keen awareness of the needs that have yet to be adequately addressed throughout our communities. The diversity of student perspectives in each of my courses offered a more well-rounded understanding of the public/nonprofit climate here, as well as progress and shortfalls. It fueled my sense of direction.
What inspires you about Northeast Ohio? Why?
Cleveland is my adoptive hometown, and I've come to take great pride in the heart and persistence of this city. I used to let flattened generalizations about its worth creep into my psyche, but since I've immersed myself more deeply among the 'change agents' here, I feel generally proud and hopeful. It's important to strike a balance though – I try to challenge myself to celebrate progress while still remaining critical of the dire needs that exist in our communities. My graduate program affirmed that for me, and gave me the tools to shift my learning into productive action.
In your opinion, what’s Northeast Ohio’s best kept secret?
While I don’t know if it’s necessarily a “secret,” the Cleveland Metroparks System is a gem, especially this time of year. We are so privileged to have this protected green space that spans across six counties, right in our backyard. I love to hike and bike in my spare time, and always find some peace and perspective there.
What issues are you passionate about/what inspires you?
I am a feminist, and believe in an intersectional approach for advancing equity and human rights. I chose to focus my studies toward human services organizations so that I could work directly with underserved communities throughout Greater Cleveland. The process of familiarizing myself (even now) with the powerful work being done by Cleveland's nonprofit sector is a consistent affirmation for me. Beyond that, it was inspiring to be surrounded by such passionate professors, researchers, and change-makers at the Levin College. It was contagious. I was able to leverage that passion into my current position, where I feel that I'm truly contributing to systemic change, especially for children and families in crisis throughout our region. I couldn't be happier with the level of support and dynamic learning that I was given throughout my program.