MPA Alumna Transforms Lives Through The Arts

Stephanie Stenglein ’07 did not know what a 501c3 was when she started the Master of Public Administration program at UNC Charlotte. But she knew she enjoyed nonprofit work, and that the work drew on her skills as a communicator and relationship builder.

“It just gave me the baseline to start,” Stenglein said of the MPA program. “I didn’t know how to get engaged. It gave me the educational foundation.”

Today, Stenglein is vice president of institutional advancement for Arts+ (formerly Community School of the Arts). The organization provides arts education to students from all backgrounds.

“I have the pleasure of fundraising to help provide access to arts education for children who wouldn’t have it otherwise,” Stenglein said.

The Charlotte chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals has repeatedly recognized her fundraising skills. In November, she received the Outstanding Fundraising Executive award from the organization. The award recognizes fundraising executives whose performance has enhanced the financial resources and recognition for the organization in which they work. Steinglen previously received AFP’s Outstanding Emerging Philanthropist Award.

At Arts+, Steinglen raises money for programs that include private lessons, group classes and summer camps; the Charlotte Children’s Choir; and The Bridge, a creative arts lab that offers a variety of free musical and visual arts programs. Arts+ serves about 4,500 children and adults annually, half of whom pay nothing or reduced rates for the programs in which they participate. The organization also partners with other groups to offer arts programs. For example, Arts+ has a partnership with the Charlotte Symphony, Project Harmony, to offer a free after school orchestra program in four Charlotte neighborhoods. 

Stenglein is passionate about exposing more young people to the arts.

“The arts definitely transform lives,” Stenglein said. “They are an equalizer and an elevator for students. It’s so much more than just learning to play the violin. It helps with math scores, reading, working collaboratively, leadership.” 

Stenglein earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism, concentrating in public relations, from the University of Georgia. After college, she interned for nonprofits, including the American Red Cross in Savannah. She had attended high school in Sumter, South Carolina, so she moved to Charlotte, where she worked as a bartender while applying for jobs in public relations.

Stenglein did research and discovered UNC Charlotte offered a certificate in nonprofit management. She ultimately decided to pursue her master’s degree. Stenglein considers herself  “very lucky and privileged” to have studied with Gerald “Jerry” Fox, former Mecklenburg County manager and namesake of the Gerald G. Fox Master of Public Administration program at UNC Charlotte.

“It just gave me the tools I needed to jumpstart my career in this different path that wasn’t PR that built upon all my PR skills as well.”

Stephanie Stenglein

By the time Stenglein graduated from UNC Charlotte in 2007, she had worked her way up to director of annual giving at Queens University of Charlotte. She also previously worked for the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra and was chief development officer for Arts+ before being named vice president of institutional advancement in July 2016.

Stenglein gives back to UNC Charlotte by serving as a member of the MPA program’s advisory board and as a mentor to students in that program. The MPA program includes concentrations in arts administration, nonprofit management, urban management and policy, emergency management, and public budgeting and finance.

Words: Jonnelle Davis