EMBA Experience Brings Immediate Returns

When the phone call came, Sara Howe stepped out of her EMBA class on negotiations to literally apply what she was learning.

Then the CEO for the Illinois Association for Behavioral Health (IABH), Howe was advocating for legislation to enhance mental health services. In the end, the Illinois Legislature passed five out of the six related bills under consideration. 

“We had our very best legislative session,” she says. “The ROI was pretty clear at that point.”

EMBA opens new opportunities

Not only did her EMBA experience at Purdue University help her on the job, but it also helped open a new career opportunity.

She met Jordan Powell of the Illinois Primary Health Care Association (IPHCA) while at IABH. Powell, too, understood the value of EMBA, receiving his degree from Washington University in St. Louis. When Powell became president and CEO of IPHCA, he asked Howe to consider working with him.

Now as executive vice president at IPHCA, Howe leads a team to help IPHCA members, the state’s community health centers. Before she joined IPHCA, Powell launched an initiative to distribute personal protective equipment to members. Howe assisted with that venture and more.

More invaluable lessons applied

“The experience I had in marketing from EMBA has already proven invaluable here as I lead our member recruitment and retention effort and our business members’ and group purchasing program, and also oversee our annual conference, which went virtual for the first time.”

Howe returned to school with a desire to learn about management. With a background in public health, she unexpectedly found herself interim CEO at IABH early in her career, faced with managing an organization as a business. “It became apparent to me very fast that there was much I didn’t know.”

She now talks to other non-profit executives about the value of the EMBA experience.

“Because I have a business degree, I am a better non-profit executive,” says Howe. “I think more and more leaders of non-profit organizations need a business background.

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