Home / Stories / Takeaway Wednesday: Nonprofit Leadership Program!

Takeaway Wednesday: Nonprofit Leadership Program!


Update: We have a new title for our domestic service program: Nonprofit Leadership Program

This is an opportunity for Catholic women and men to gain experience in nonprofit work at Franciscan Mission Service while receiving faith formation through intentional community living and direct service. 

Our 13 month program is a distinctive full-time volunteer program combining professional experience in nonprofit work with caring formation for each associate’s personal faith.   

Franciscan Mission Service offers much more than the Lay Mission Program. We also offer Short-Term Mission and Global Awareness Trips, as well as a unique program that was formerly known as the Domestic Lay Volunteer Program. Its new name, however, is Nonprofit Leadership Program.

“This unique program is another wonderful opportunity for Franciscan Mission Service to offer a pathway to mission for the laity and to intentionally prepare the next generation of compassionate servant leaders,” says Kim Smolik, executive director, “We are proud of our alumni who take their experiences and go on to serve with heart and skill in other nonprofits.”

While the Lay Mission Program and Short-Term Mission and Global Awareness Trip program focus on faith formation through overseas mission service, the Nonprofit Leadership Program is an opportunity for lay Catholics to live their faith through professional development in nonprofit work.

Associates gathered for Mass with Lay Missioners and Franciscan Mission Service Board of Directors

Offering 13 months of full-time service in our administrative offices in Washington, D.C., the Nonprofit Leadership Program provides formation for people who intertwine their personal faith with their professional work. Associates serve full-time in our administrative offices in areas such as communications, program support, and development.

Living the Franciscan value of simplicity, associates in the Nonprofit Leadership Program stay at Casa San Salvador, an intentional community within walking distance of the Franciscan Mission Service office.

Read an excellent reflection on community life from House Manager Slavka Brigantova: “The Joy of Love through Commitment.”

Associates have private bedrooms and share common spaces in the residence. An added benefit is the community chapel where members can gather for prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.

Members of Casa San Salvador include both fellow associates as well as other Catholic lay people working at other nonprofits or studying in graduate school. Casa San Salvador members eat dinner in community, have weekly community nights to enjoy each other’s company and nurture relationships in faith and friendship.

“We can dream about loving the poor ‘out there,’ but the test of this great desire is to first accept the invitation to love the poverty in ourselves and in those closest to us,” says Program Coordinator Natalie Helfrick, “Community is a place where we are challenged to do that in a deep way– to risk showing our own feet that get dirty time and again, and to wash the soiled feet of those with whom we share daily life.”

The faith formation of community living, including simple community chores (like housecleaning) and faith-sharing, is not simply a collateral benefit to the Nonprofit Leadership Program. It is an essential component to shaping associates for lives that authentically serve in faith both in professional and personal capacities.

Weekly direct service with a marginalized population in DC on Wednesday afternoons allows associates to live out the Franciscan values of presence and accompaniment. Whether it is volunteering at a soup kitchen, nursing home, or after-school program, the service opportunity helps to inform the associate’s professional development and spiritual growth.

Current Program Associate Chanda Ikachana

Sound like something you’d be interested in? We are currently accepting applications for several spots in our Nonprofit Leadership Program.

Click on the positions below to read more about each Associate’s individual responsibilities!

Event Planning Associate

Program Associate

Development Associate


  • Volunteer in a vibrant, mission-focused office
  • Housing with a fully-furnished bedroom
  • Modest monthly stipend
  • Health insurance
  • At least one staff retreat per year
  • Free parking if you bring a car (although a car is not necessary)
  • No commuting costs – you don’t live far from the office
  • Metro-accessible location – you live within walking distance of the Brookland-CUA stop on the red line (10 minute train ride downtown)

“We hope the name change and re-brand from ‘domestic volunteer program’ to ‘nonprofit leadership program’ will help more clearly convey the purpose of this opportunity that we have been growing and molding over the past five years,” says Kim Smolik.

We prepare and support lay Catholics for two-year international, one-year domestic and 1-2 week short-term mission service opportunities in solidarity with impoverished and marginalized communities across the globe.

The blog is maintained by the communications staff.