Patrice Picard (BA ’79, MSM ’84) is CEO of nonprofit Cornerstone Family Programs and its subsidiary, the Morristown Neighborhood House. The two organizations serve 10,000 people in 10 locations throughout northern New Jersey. She joined Cornerstone’s Board of Directors in 1999 and was named CEO in 2007. Picard was named one of New Jersey’s 2014 “Best 50 Women in Business” by NJBIZ.
Krannert Magazine: What about nonprofit work do you most find enriching and rewarding?
Patrice Picard: I loved being able to take my business sense into the nonprofit world. Nonprofits are still businesses, and if you can’t manage the cash flow, budget properly and make payroll, then you won’t be around to do good. I found that to be really interesting. And the work itself is rewarding. Seeing families with nothing and being able to make a difference with the services we provide is very important. I love to spend time with our clients — it really reminds me why we do what we do.
KM: What advice and expertise do you share with students?
PP: I have several points I address with them. First, you never know where life will take you. You can make a plan, but know that you will veer off that plan at some point. Second, be ready. If you think you might want to do nonprofit work in the future, then volunteer, sit on a board, learn the issues, and be ready. Third, say “yes.” A lot of people don’t take risks and they don’t say “yes” when they’re offered something. I did not think I would ever be the CEO of a nonprofit, but I decided to take a risk and say “yes.” Last, I’ll tell them to know what they believe in and remember why you do what you do. If they can keep those four things in mind, then I think that will open them up to the possibilities of a career in nonprofit work.
KM: What message do you have for recent Krannert graduates?
PP: Use your Krannert education, your contacts and the network you’ve built here to advance your career. It’s critical to stay in touch with your classmates, to see where they go and to keep that network alive. Krannert’s alumni network does a lot of good and extends to many places.