Son Chau

MPA in Public & Nonprofit Management & Policy

Son Chau headshot.

Can you tell us a bit about your job responsibilities?

I currently lead the Institutional Partnership Program at East Bay Community Foundation. In this program director role, I design and implement a program that engages institutional stakeholders - corporations, foundations, government, and community coalitions - to deepen and expand their partnerships with the Foundation. These partnerships become a part of a collective impact strategy to advance grant-making and nonprofit capacity-building work that we do in the Bay Area.

Please describe why you chose NYU Wagner for graduate school?

I wanted to strengthen different types of skills in graduate school, as well as my understanding of the philanthropic sector. The Wagner program allowed me to focus on the business side of social impact organizations, which I liked, and was very pragmatic. In addition, I wanted to strengthen my skills in accounting and financial management generally and be able to better understand financial reports. Compared to other programs in the philanthropic  arena, what also set NYU Wagner apart was its unique location. The institutional roots of the philanthropic sector are very deep in New York City and I have been able to build a number of relationships within the sector because of my time at Wagner.

Please describe how your experiences at NYU Wagner prepared you for your career?

Going to Wagner provided me with a competitive edge over my peers, and gave me thoughtful practices and frameworks around management and leadership. As part of the management track, I had the opportunity to learn about the organizational behavior of nonprofits and foundations. I also learned how to work better in teams and acquired a certain emotional intelligence navigating those spaces. Teams are the lifeblood of most of the work we do and thus understanding how to build effective teams is essential in everything I am doing now. I try to embody what I learned at Wagner in my leadership position, and I am able to really use the frameworks I learned about as a compass.

What is a piece of advice you would give students starting at NYU?

One piece of advice I would give to any student is to do the personal, introspective work necessary to help you professionally. It is so important to put in the work to understand who you are and what your personal mission is. Understanding what unique value you bring to the table is essential in making the most out of the experiences you have. At Wagner, this means consulting the Office of Career Services, attending workshops, and learning from leaders in your field in informational interviews that support your professional development. At any stage in your career, it is always important to identify your strengths, how you can leverage them, and how you can improve your skills and leadership.  For instance, if you want to go in a certain career direction, what does it take to get there, what do you need, and whom might be your mentor or sponsor along the way? Asking these questions is critical to better understanding your goals and personal mission.