Brent Never, Ph.D., Director


Brent Never (Ph.D., Indiana University) is the director of the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership, an Associate Professor of Public Affairs at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. His research considers the spatial and geographic implications of a decentralized human service system. Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and spatial regression methods, he has worked to identify communities underserved by human services. He has also worked to highlight clusters of financially distressed nonprofit organizations, those most likely to go out of business in the near future raising the question as to who is served by financially ‘sick’ human service providers.

Never has served as Visiting Professor in the School of Community Resources & Development at Arizona State University where he conducted research on the continued devolution of human services from government provision to private-sector provision through contracts, vouchers, and grants. He has published in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Nonprofit Management & Leadership, Voluntas, Human Service Organizations: Management, Leadership & Governance, and Nonprofit Policy Forum. In addition, Never regularly writes for the practitioner audience in the Nonprofit Quarterly.

Never’s research has been funded by national and regional foundations. He was a Fulbright Scholar (2003-04 to Benin and 2007 to Northern Ireland), and in 2011-2013 was awarded a Young Scholar Research Grant from the Kresge Foundation. In 2018, he and Prof. Jim DeLisle was awarded the Alteryx Excellence Award for their method of data cleaning, mixing, and analysis; their work is now being used to understand patterns of abandoned housing in Kansas City.

Never teaches courses in research methods, public policy analysis, program evaluation, and public-private partnerships. He teaches courses in the Master of Public Administration, Executive Master of Public Administration, Executive Master of Business Administration, and the Master of Business Administration programs. He has earned the Elmer F. Pierson Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Bloch Student Award for Impactful Teaching.

Never serves the nonprofit research community as a Track Chair for the ARNOVA Annual Meeting (2014-2016), a member of the Executive Committee for the Theories, Issues, Boundaries Section, and is a frequent manuscript reviewer for journals and book publishers.

Never enjoys serving the regional nonprofit community as a Senior Fellow at the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership. His work includes executive board training, strategic planning, and program evaluation services. He has also served the City of Kansas City as a member of the Citizens’ Commission on Municipal Revenue and Mayor Sly James’ Challenge Cabinet.

Brent Never

Julie Klima, MPA, Managing Director


Julie Klima is the managing director of the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership. She is a passionate advocate for a thriving nonprofit sector and has more than two decades of cross-sector experience leading teams through growth and change.

Prior to joining the Midwest Center, Julie held a variety of roles in nonprofit and private sector organizations in Washington, DC and Kansas City, including Arabella Advisors, Environmental Defense Fund, Exponent Philanthropy, Gift of Life, Network for Good, Useagility, WildAid, and Wildlife Alliance.

Julie is a member of the Kansas City Chamber Centurions Leadership Program Class of 2025, serves on the board of Support KC, and leads the Lessons in Leadership interview series for Central Exchange.

Julie earned her BBA in Marketing from The University of Oklahoma and a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in nonprofit management from The George Washington University.

Monica Rezac, Ph.D., Research Coordinator

Monica Rezac earned her B.A. in Liberal Arts from UMKC and a Master of Library Science from the University of Denver. While working in public libraries, she received her Ph.D. in Research Methods and Statistics from the University of Denver, where her focus was is in program evaluation, market research, strategic planning, and measurement development. Her research interests also include arts-based research, qualitative studies, and mixed methods approaches. Monica’s role with MCNL includes providing research support for organizations and ongoing projects, data collection for evaluation, and creating public reports. She joined MCNL in 2019.

Mark Culver, Senior Program Coordinator


Mark Culver earned his B.A. from UMKC and worked as Administrative Coordinator at MCNL while completing the M.P.A. program at UMKC. He then worked in both development and administrative roles for the Pittsburgh AIDS Tasks Force before returning to Kansas City and MCNL in 1999. His primary role includes assisting in the development and implementation of MCNL projects and programs. Mark manages logistics, database design and management, public relations, customer service, quality control, and evaluation in addition to performing university administrative liaison functions.

David Renz, Ph.D., Director Emeritus


David Renz is Professor Emeritus of Nonprofit Leadership and Director Emeritus of the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership, the public service leadership research and development center of the Department of Public Affairs in the Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri –Kansas City (UMKC). The center, a key contributor to UMKC’s community engagement mission, serves approximately 3,500 leaders of nonprofit and other public service organizations each year.

An award-winning educator and scholar, David teaches and conducts research on nonprofit and public service leadership, especially nonprofit governance and board effectiveness. His current research focuses on governance and management in networks and socially-entrepreneurial organizations. Recently, David was honored with a Special Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kansas City nonprofit association, Nonprofit Connect; in 2017 he was recognized with the “Distinguished Achievement in Leadership and Nonprofit and Voluntary Action Research Award” from the international scholar association, the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA).

David serves public service organizations in many capacities, including consulting and service on councils, task forces, and governing boards. David has worked with more than 160 boards, commissions, and networks in the past two decades. Among other initiatives, he helped found the Nonprofit Academic Centers Council (a network of university-based nonprofit centers) and the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers.

David writes frequently for both the academic and practice communities and, with his colleagues and coauthors, has produced more than 155 chapters, reports, and articles for journals such as Nonprofit Management and Leadership, The Nonprofit Quarterly, Strategic Governance, Public Administration Review, and Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. He also is editor of the fourth edition of The Jossey-Bass Handbook of Nonprofit Leadership and Management and co-editor of The Research Handbook on Entrepreneurs’ Engagement in Philanthropy. David earned his Ph.D. in Organization Studies from the University of Minnesota.

Cindy Laufer, Program Coordinator

Cindy Laufer holds a M.P.A. with a concentration in nonprofit management from UMKC. She provides nonprofits with assistance in the areas of targeted program development, customized program evaluation, contracted research, and capacity building project design and management.

Elizabeth Ireland, Doctoral Student

Elizabeth Ireland earned her B.A. and M.A. in Liberal Arts and M.P.A. with an emphasis in nonprofit management from UMKC. She is currently an Interdisciplinary Ph.D. student at UMKC with Public Affairs and Administration as her primary discipline and Entrepreneurship and Innovation as her co-discipline. Her research focus is in organizational behavior and followership. She joined MCNL in 2018.

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