About Robert Penna

Robert PennaBefore turning my attentions to a new book I am writing, I served for five years as a consultant to  Charity Navigator on grants and performance measures, as its International Coordinator responsible for the development of CN activities beyond the U.S. borders,  and on its advisory board.  I also served as the outcomes consultant for the Geneva-based World Scout Bureau, and still advise the Africa Regional Office on a periodic basis.  I have presented before numerous nonprofit organizations and state nonprofit associations across the U.S., in Canada, Poland, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, and Australia.

I was a senior consultant to The Rensselaerville Institute from 2000 to 2008, facilitated seminars at the Institute’s The Center for Outcomes, worked on such projects as the Ohio Outcome Funding Community Development effort, projects for the A.E. Casey Foundation, the National Geographic Foundation and the Ford Foundation.  One of the assignments that I most enjoyed and of which I am most proud was serving as Project Lead on the Institute’s three United Nations projects in 2003, designing the prototype for the organization’s Programme Performance Report, leading the Institute team creating the materials for the organization’s world wide training seminars on the new system, and facilitating training sessions at UN Headquarters in New York.  The Institute’s resident expert on non-Institute outcome models, I was also the lead author of the Institute’s book, Outcome Frameworks.

Prior to joining the Institute, I was a member of the staff of the New York State Senate for 13 years beginning in 1982. Over that period I held several senior-level positions, including Director of Research for the Legislative Commission on Public-Private Cooperation, and Director of Communications for the Senate Finance Committee.  I served on the staff of the Majority Leader for five years and also held the positions of Director of Operations and Special Projects Director for, respectively, two members of the Senate Majority. I was an adjunct professor of political science at Siena College, worked on the national field team of the Steve Forbes for President campaign in 1995-96, and was one of New York State’s leading experts in special use zoning.

I grew up in the Bronx, graduated from Fordham University, and hold a Ph.D. in Political Science from Boston University with a specialization in urban and municipal affairs.

After thirty years in Albany, I recently moved to Wilmington, NC, with my wife, Elise.  Our youngest, our daughter, Sara, attends Alfred University…way, way out at the western end of New York’s Southern Tier.  We have two grown sons: Billy, the architect, living in Schenectady with his wife and sons, and Matthew, a West Point graduate who recently began medical school in Pennsylvania.

I am, in spite of my Bronx roots, a long-suffering Mets and Jets fan; probably know more about Superman, Batman, and related DC Comics characters than any adult should admit to knowing, and really am something of a country mouse, being far more comfortable in a cabin in the woods than in a big city penthouse.  I love backpacking and camping (although my body keeps telling me I far am too old to be sleeping on a rock!) and, since moving to NC, truly miss the woods of the north.

I am an avid cook (although my wife is better!), have eclectic tastes in music and reading, and am a cat person.  Before we moved to Wilmington, I was very pleased to serve as Vice-President of the Italian American Heritage Foundation, and on the Board of the Italian American Community Center, both in Albany, NY.  Involved in Scouting for over 50 years, I am a Unit Commissioner for the Cape Fear Council of BSA here in Wilmington, as well as a counselor for six Merit Badges.

Recent posts from the blog

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The Alchemy of Words.
April 12, 2017
A friend sent me an article yesterday, “9 Words that Tap Into the Psychology of Giving.”  You can find it here. Offered as advice to nonprofits on how they can induce a higher rate of giv
February 13, 2017
In our last column, we wrote about how our investors, those institutions and individuals that provide the financial support our organizations need, are not investing merely in the provision ...
Changing Our Thinking
January 13, 2017
Sometimes, no matter how long we’ve been thinking about something a certain way, it is necessary to change our perspective.  This realization came to me recently when I had a conversation wi