Monday, June 5, 2017

Career Conversations with an Anderson Alum




Business Management meets Non-Profit

By Krisztina Ford

I came to the non-profit field in a rather roundabout way.

I grew up in Hungary, and in most European systems, the government maintains social services and taxes support healthcare, education, childcare, etc. There is less need in such a system for a non-governmental sector to respond to gaps in social services – so it’s no wonder that non-profits were a new concept to me.

I earned my Master’s in Political Science in Budapest.  One of my classes was about various political systems and, of course, the United States was front and center in the discussions. I had high expectations about the U.S.

When I moved here, however, I was shocked by the lack of attention to social services and a social net and surprised by the silos in which NGOs are forced to function. They operate without adequate funding – suffer from a lack of innovation – and they struggle to create any sense that they are part of a system that collectively addresses the underlying needs of those in need.

I started to work for non-profits because I was called to work toward establishing systems in the field of social justice.

… and all this sounds idealistic and dreamy – but it’s still what gets me out of bed each day.

I soon found though that idealism is not enough for a non-profit to get by and get ahead.

As I was climbing the management ladder through various positions at local agencies, it became very apparent that, in a non-profit, one had better know how to read financials, craft a budget, supervise and hire people, manage volunteers, write business plans, expand programs, understand how to diversify funding, fundraise, run a board, advocate in legislative sessions, understand what policies affect operations… and what changes at the Santa Fe Roundhouse or in DC will influence governing rules and revenue …

And if you are looking for the story that changed everything – well, it might have been this one: I’m sitting in a finance committee meeting one day with the financial people of the board, CPAs and bankers – my boss, the CEO, leans over with the P&L in her hand and whispers in my ear, “Are the parentheses good or bad?”

Within a year, I was back in school – at UNM, in the executive MBA program. I didn’t need an education on those parentheses, but I sure didn’t want to learn about the basics from staff and rely on what I am able to pick up in meetings.

I found those 26 months to be the best investment in a non-profit management job – it not only taught me the basics of writing with the appropriate audience in mind, but also about the complex tasks of finance and business planning.

Most important – it created a network of classmates who have been instrumental as I took my place in the business community.

The status quo is never good enough. There is always more to be done. The task is to figure out how to become a more effective tool to serve personal goals and to make meaningful contributions to a community.



Krisztina Ford moved to Albuquerque, NM from Budapest, Hungary in 2000 and has over ten years’ experience in non-profit management. Her vision is to create strong collaborations within non-profit organizations, government agencies and for profit businesses in order to better serve the community and to build healthy societies.

She has served on the Mayor’s Task Force on Child Abuse, is the Vice President on the Board of the New Mexico Behavioral Health Providers Alliance and is a board member of the Child Welfare League of America based in Washington, DC. She is a recipient of the Business Weekly’s Top CEO Award and Women of Influence Award.

Before coming to All Faiths, Krisztina worked with health care organizations and agencies that served the developmentally disabled. She holds an MBA from UNM’s Anderson School of Management and a Master’s degree in Political Science from Budapest. Krisztina is currently the CEO/President of All Faiths.

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