Laura Otten, Ph.D.

Graduate Director for Nonprofit Leadership
Nonprofit Leadership


Ph.D., Criminology/Sociology, University of Pennsylvania
M.A., Criminology, University of Pennsylvania
B.A., Sarah Lawrence College


Laura Otten, Ph.D., is the founder and Director of La Salle University’s Master of Science in Nonprofit Leadership and a tenured member of La Salle’s faculty.  She was the Executive Director of La Salle’s Nonprofit Center from June 2001 until June 2021, having begun her affiliation with The Center shortly after it was formed in the early 1980s, working as a consultant and instructor, primarily in the areas of governance, strategic planning, coaching, and program evaluation.  She continues to serve as a consultant and instructor with The Center.  She is a nationally recognized expert in numerous aspects of nonprofit management and governance.  Her weekly blog, Nonprofit University, (, which ran for over 15 years, until it was discontinued in 2021) was read in over 155 countries. 

Prior to joining the staff of The Nonprofit Center, Laura served as director of La Salle’s Criminal Justice Program, Women’s Studies Program and Project on Justice and Society.  She gained tenure in 1988 and has been recognized for distinguished teaching.  Laura has several publishing credits, including the book, Women’s Rights and the Law (Praeger, 1993). In life before La Salle, Laura worked for the Vera Institute of Justice, the Ford Foundation and MITRE. 

She earned her MA and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College.