Director, Network for Nonprofit and Social Impact

Michelle Shumate is the founding director of Network for Nonprofit and Social Impact (NNSI). NNSI is dedicated to answering the question: How can nonprofit networks be rewired for maximum social impact? In addition, she is a Professor in Communication Studies and Associate Faculty at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University.

Her research focuses on how to design interorganizational networks to make the most social impact.  The National Science Foundation recognized her research with a CAREER award. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Army Research Office.  Nonprofit Quarterly, Stanford Social Innovation, and the Conference board have featured her work. She offers workshops, consulting, and coaching through the Social Impact Network Consulting.

Professor Shumate holds a Ph.D. from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California and a Bachelor’s Degree from Pepperdine University.

Affiliated Faculty

Kate Cooper is an assistant professor at DePaul University.  Her research interests include nonprofit and cross-sector collacooperboration in response to social problems as well as stakeholder participation in collaborative or collective impact models. Kate’s research has appeared in Management Communication Quarterly and Communication Yearbook; her work also includes the development of the bona fide network perspective to explore collaborative networks convened around complex social problems. Kate holds an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a B.A. from Wheaton College.

Amy O’Connor is an associate professor at the University of Minnesota. She received her Ph.D. from the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University. O’Connor has published or presented over 30 research papers focusing on corporate social responsibility and the corporate society relationship. Her research focuses on the role of corporations in society, specifically the rights and responsibilities of corporations in the global commons. She is co-PI of the nonprofit-corporate partnership project.


Graduate Research Assistants

Reyhaneh Maktoufi is a PhD candidate in Media, Technology, and Society at Northwestern University. Her main fields of interest are science communication, curiosity, and public engagement in with scientists. She works at the Nonprofit Network and Social Impact Lab where she researches nonprofit mergers and attitudes toward nonprofit-corporation partnerships.

Her working background is mainly in audience outreach in nonprofits, mostly in the field of health. Rey currently enjoys working with different nonprofits such as the Adler Planetarium as a communication workshop facilitator and the Communicating Science Conference ComSciCon – Chicago as an organizer. She also engages in science outreach through writing blog-posts and making science comics.

Kaitlyn Childs is a Ph.D. student in the Media, Technology, and Society program at Northwestern University. She is currently studying perceptions of corporate-nonprofit partnerships using concept mapping techniques. She holds an M.A. in Communications and a B.A. in Liberal Arts and Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Anne-Marie Boyer is a third-year doctoral student in the Media, Technology, and Society Program at Northwestern University, and is currently working on the Army Research Office project at the Network for Nonprofit and Social Impact. She has several years of experience working in environmental nonprofits as a communicator and as a science journalist in public media. Her research interests include nonprofit communications, nonprofit organizations, and funder-nonprofit collaboration. Anne-Marie has an M.S. degree in Science Journalism from Boston University and a B.A. in English Literature from Delhi University, India.


Zachary Gibson is a third-year doctoral student in the Technology and Social Behavior Program at Northwestern University. His research interests include conflict dynamics within and between organizations, interorganizational networks particularly in the mental health and veteran space, and technological interventions to support nonprofit capacity. He has a B.S. in Psychology and a B.S. in Computer Science from Georgia Tech.

Joshua-Paul Miles is a PhD student in the Media, Technology, and Society program studying under Dr. Michelle Shumate. He is a research assistant at the Network for Nonprofit and Social Impact Lab. His main research interests include organizational networks and partnerships, interorganizational dynamics, collective action, and discrimination and equity within networks and organizations. He holds degrees in Corporate Communication and Spanish for the Business Professions, with a minor in Human Resources from Marquette University.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Hannah Song

Cara Savin

Lola Knight

Will Deschler

Strategic Communication Interns

Brett Mayfield

Gabrielle Alava

Kate Zilke

Sahiba Borisuth


Lab Alum
Dr. Sophia Fu

Dr. John (Jack) Harris

Dr. Jennifer Ihm

Dr. Rong Wang