Vanderbilt Executive MBA program awards full tuition to non-profit leader

Stephanie Barger, an executive at Monroe Harding, a 120-year-old Nashville institution that provides care and support for foster children, wins annual non-profit scholarship.

Media Contact:
Ryan Underwood
Business Editor
Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management
(615) 322-3469 |

May 23, 2013

CNM-StephanieBarger-WebStephanie Barger, vice president of strategy and operations at Monroe Harding, a 120-year-old Nashville institution that provides care and support for foster children, has been named this year’s recipient of a full-tuition sponsorship to the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management’s Executive MBA program. 

The Owen School funds the award, which covers the full cost of the two-year tuition, and selects the winner in partnership with the Nashville Center for Nonprofit Management.

“With more than 10 years of non-profit experience working to help those in need — as well as a master’s degree in Divinity from Vanderbilt —Stephanie combines her strategic and analytical background with a deep compassion for others,” said Juli Bennett, who oversees Executive programs at Owen. 

“This program is designed to equip non-profit leadership with business management tools that will enable them to take on larger roles and in turn strengthen the not-for-profit community in Middle Tennessee. We’re pleased Stephanie will be joining the Executive MBA class this fall.”

In her current role, Barger supervises directors of each of Monroe Harding’s programs, balancing budgetary needs among all of the organization’s lines of work. In addition, she researches and anticipates future funding and service need in order to develop strategies that achieve the greatest impact with available resources.

“The need for non-profit services continues to grow, but donated dollars have not kept pace. I believe that it will be essential for non-profits to find innovative business models to support their services as they attempt to meet this growing need,” said Barger, a 2002 graduate of Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to learn the business expertise that will equip me to lead non-profits to more financially sustainable services.”

Barger holds a number of board positions among state and regional community service organizations, including the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Advisory Council and the Brooks Fund Advisory Board of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

Owen launched the sponsorship program under the leadership of Dean Jim Bradford in 2005 to recognize one deserving Middle Tennessee nonprofit executive each year. Applications are open to executives and senior staff members of any Middle Tennessee 501(c)(3) organization that have demonstrated a strong commitment to serving in the nonprofit sector.

A selection committee that includes representatives from the Owen Graduate School and Nashville’s Center for Nonprofit Management chooses the recipient from a pool of admitted applicants coming into the highly ranked Executive MBA program, which offers a rigorous 60-credit-hour MBA curriculum. Requirements for admission include strong GMAT scores, a record of academic accomplishment, previous management experience, and a formal interview.

Some past recipients of the award include Michael McSurdy, CEO of Family and Children’s Service of Nashville and previous Vice President of Program Services for the Oasis Center; Beth Torres, President and CEO of Make a Wish of Middle Tennessee and previous Vice President of Events and Funding Development for Junior Achievement of Middle Tennessee; Anderson Williams, Chief Operating and Product Officer of Zeumo and previous Director of Consulting for the Oasis Center; and Julie Granillo, Director of Donor Development for Dispensary of Hope, recently promoted from Director of Site Development for the same company.

Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management is ranked as a top institution by BusinessWeek, U.S. News & World Report, Financial Times and Forbes. For more information about Owen, visit or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram.