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Chelsea DresenPhD Student, Civil Society and Community Research


With a background in organizational leadership and program management, Chelsea is particularly interested in community and nonprofit leadership development as well as program development and evaluation. Her passion for this research is evident in her previous work, and Chelsea plans to further her research in this field as a Ph.D. student in the Civil Society and Community Research program to make a lasting impact on nonprofit organizations and communities.

Education and Relevant Experience

Chelsea holds a B.A. in Communication Studies with an emphasis on leadership and advocacy and an M.S. in Organizational Leadership from Winona State University. While at Winona State University, Chelsea completed a master’s thesis titled, “Women in the Nonprofit Sector: Gender-Based Leadership Challenges.” This qualitative study explored the gender gap in the nonprofit sector and the challenges that women leaders face when advancing into leadership positions in nonprofit organizations. Additionally, Chelsea studied abroad in Cape Coast, Ghana, and she also completed a Leadership and Team Development course in New Zealand. Both experiences fostered her leadership skills and her passion for building cultural bridges. As a nonprofit

practitioner, Chelsea currently does program management work with WE International, which is a nonprofit in Madison that focuses on international development efforts primarily in Uganda. Chelsea has also worked for Operation Homefront, a national nonprofit organization focused on building strong, stable, and secure military families. Chelsea’s roles with Operation Homefront included serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA member for one year and then subsequently stepping in as the Interim Program Manager for a twelve-state region. She further developed her program management skills when she served as the Logistics and Scheduling Coordinator for the Global Youth Village, which is Legacy International’s flagship cultural immersion, peace-building, and leadership development summer program for teens from around the world. Chelsea plans to carry her knowledge and passion for leadership development, culture sharing, and nonprofit and program management into her future research pursuits.

Degree Program

  • Civil Society & Community Research