Helping nonprofits flourish Lawyer spearheads Harvard Club of Michigan programs

By Sheila Pursglove

Legal News

Attorney Richard Shapack, president of the Harvard Business School Club of Michigan (HBSMI), has worked on a range of club activities, particularly in support of local nonprofits.

"The current strength of the club is that it's more than a social or networking organization it's the nonprofit involvement that's of particular importance," says Shapack, a principal at Shapack Gurrola in Bloomfield Hills. "The mission statement of Harvard Business School is 'to educate leaders who make a difference in the world.' I think that's too broad. What's important is getting off the couch, becoming personally involved and making a difference in one's community. With all due respect for our political leaders, if it weren't for the efforts of our non-profit organizations and their many dedicated workers and volunteers, our community simply wouldn't be able to function."

Shapack, who graduated with an MBA in management from Harvard Business School before earning his J.D. from the Catholic University Columbus School of Law in D.C., is looking forward to the club's upcoming fund-raising dinner honoring 2014 Business Leaders of the Year Gordon E. Krater, managing partner of Plante Moran, and Sandra Pierce, chairman and CEO of FirstMerit Michigan. The dinner will be held 6 p.m., Thursday, March 26, at the MSU Management Education Center, 811 West Square Lake Road in Troy.

The concept of honoring Michigan business leaders began with the Business Statesman awards in 1983. Early honorees included Max Fisher, Henry Ford II, Alfred Taubman, Michael Ilitch and Roger Penske. The Club honored Nancy Schlichting of Henry Ford Health System in 2012 and Dan Gilbert of Quicken Loans in 2013.

Proceeds will be used to fund scholarships to send Michigan non-profit leaders to the 6-day 2015 Strategic Perspectives for Non-Profit Management (SPNM) program in July at the Harvard Business School in Boston. Scholarships are offered through a nomination/application process for candidates who exemplify dedication, commitment and pursuit of excellence within the nonprofit sector.

"Including the 2014 class, our club has sent 39 Michigan nonprofit leaders to SPNM since 1999," says Shapack, who joined HBSMI shortly after moving to Michigan in 1976. "The SPNM alumni are outstanding, dedicated leaders who are making a major difference in our community."

Any CEO of a Michigan nonprofit organization may be nominated and the selection is made by a vote of all members of the Non-Profit Leadership Collaborative, including SPNM graduates, HBSMI Club members and others actively involved in promoting non-profit organizations.

In 2007 Shapack founded and continues to spearhead the Non-Profit Leadership Collaborative, bringing together SPNM Scholarship recipients and other non-profit executives in regular meetings with HBSMI members so as to enable these leaders to have each other as a resource, to collaborate and to remain current with effective management methodologies such as performance measurement and the balanced scorecard.

"These meetings and the relationships engendered have been well received and have all participants recognizing that their efforts are truly making a difference in the community," he says. "This organization has been working with the Governor's office for the past few years in an important effort to have the state more effectively allocate social service funding on the basis of results, not just activity."

The Performance Measurement for Effective Management of Nonprofit Organizations is a joint program presented by the Harvard Business School Social Enterprise Initiative and Harvard University's Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at the Kennedy School. Nonprofit executives explore the impact of measurement on resource allocation, organizational learning, internal processes and internal and external accountability.

"By measuring performance, nonprofit organizations can improve their effectiveness and enhance their ability to deliver on their mission," Shapack notes.

The third in a trilogy of programs is "Governing for Non-Profit Excellence," directed at nonprofit board members to provide tools for more effective governance.

"A few Michigan board members have attended and the club is presently working with Harvard in an effort to bring the program via webcast to Michigan," Shapack says. "By providing these dedicated leaders, board members and nonprofit personnel with a range of additional tools of effective management, their organizations are better able to provide high quality services throughout southeast Michigan."

While each organization is unique, many nonprofits face similar challenges. These include the intention to hire the best talent albeit with limited funds; and determining what services the organization should offer or if services should be eliminated and/or instead provided by another organization exceling in that particular service area.

Other considerations include how to provide services that allow an organization to excel in a few areas rather than be average in many; the geographic location(s) of service; how many people the organization should aim to serve; how to most effectively raise funds as well as awareness, and many more challenges.

In addition to the SPNM program, the club founded more than 70 years ago provides the opportunity to participate, learn, socialize and network through a variety of activities and offers events focused on enhancing business knowledge and presenting opportunities to discuss challenges facing the private and public sectors in Michigan, across the nation and globally.

Shapack, who draws on extensive experience in this arena, serves on the Professional Advisory Board for the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and is serving or has served on several profit and nonprofit boards including as past chair of Lighthouse of Oakland County.

"My goal as president of HBSMI is to continue to lead like-minded people in their involvement in the community, particularly in the support of the many excellent nonprofit organizations making a major difference in Michigan," he says. "I find leading that involvement to be very rewarding."

For more information about the club, visit

Published: Mon, Mar 23, 2015