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University Communications

April 26, 2011

Laura Otten, Director of The Nonprofit Center at La Salle University, Receives Rousseau Justice Award

Laura Otten

With a commitment to the nonprofit sector that began when she was young girl living in Washington, D.C., Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director of The Nonprofit Center at La Salle University’s School of Business, says helping others is “just in my genes.” In recognition of her commitment to justice and dedication to service, Otten was recently awarded La Salle University’s Brother Scubillion Rousseau Justice Award. The award honors a La Salle faculty or staff member who understands his or her role in creating a more just world.

“While the recognition is greatly appreciated, it is not why I do what I do,” said Otten. “I do this every day because it is who I am, and what I believe I am supposed to be doing.” As The Nonprofit Center celebrates its 30th Anniversary this year, Otten says the timing of her award is especially “serendipitous.”

Otten came to La Salle in 1982 as an assistant professor in La Salle’s Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Criminal Justice. At the same time, The Nonprofit Center was just beginning to evolve. “I started working as a training consultant and director of evaluation and research while also teaching part time; it was a perfect fit of two of my passions,” said Otten.

In 1993, Otten published Women’s Rights and the Law, which examines women’s struggles for social, economic, political, and civic equality, using key Supreme Court decisions to reflect the changing position of women in American society.

Otten was named Director of The Nonprofit Center in 2001 and continues to serve as an associate professor in the Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Criminal Justice. Under her leadership, The Nonprofit Center is the leading resource for nonprofit organization management in the Delaware Valley region.

Offering leadership and emerging leadership development, education and training programs, expert consulting, and four certificate programs (finance, fundraising, marketing and communication, and nonprofit management), Otten estimates The Nonprofit Center has taught more than 50,000 nonprofit staff members and leaders and 6,000 nonprofit board members, with more than 1,500 people taking classes each year. The Center has also provided consulting services to 5,000 nonprofit organizations.

“Laura’s life has been and continues to be about transforming the sector of our community that is so critical to virtually every aspect of our lives, said Joan Mintz Ulmer, Director of Marketing and Communications for The Nonprofit Center. “She has led The Nonprofit Center in developing innovative and expanded programs to meet changing community needs, raising quality standards, and fostering the development of applied research on nonprofit management issues.”

The Brother Scubillion Rousseau Justice Award was developed to honor La Salle faculty or staff who understands his or her roles in creating a more just world. Remembered as the “catechist of the slaves,” Brother Scubillion Rousseau dedicated the last 34 years of his life to educating the enslaved natives of the island Reunion in the Indian Ocean. In his later years, he assisted the local pastor in visiting the sick, winning over sinners, encouraging vocations, and even performing what seemed to be miraculous cures.