Dr. Theresa Ricke-Kiely has been a nonprofit leader for over 25 years. She started her career working with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities as an entry-level employee and grew into a director of one of the largest residential programs in upstate NY serving hundreds of individuals and their families. As a successful nonprofit leader, she was invited to teach at her alma mater, Marist College, where she started her academic career. She created the inaugural Center for Nonprofit Leadership at the University of South Carolina (Upstate) and went on to be the executive director of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

Theresa is the inaugural executive director of the Center for the Common Good at the University of St Thomas in St Paul, Minnesota where the Project on Mindfulness and Contemplation and One Breath is supported. The project teaches faculty, students, and staff how to implement mindfulness in the classroom, meetings, life, and work. The program provides training and education on using mindfulness as a way to focus and relieve stress and anxiety. Faculty attest this is a productive way to focus students and prepare them for their learning. In her work at her Center, she connects students, staff, and faculty to the nonprofit community, creating deep and mutually benefiting relationships. Theresa continues to teach at the University of Notre Dame in the Mendoza College of Business, Nonprofit Administration programs.

She speaks regularly at nonprofit leadership conferences and workshops. She also is a peer reviewer and contributes to journals in the nonprofit leadership field. She has been a longtime member of various professional communities including Association for Research on Nonprofit and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA), International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR), International Leadership Association (ILA) and Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education (ACMHE) and has published about nonprofit leadership in a wide variety of national and international journals.

She earned an BA (psychology) from SUNY New Paltz, an MPA (Human Services) from Marist College, and an Ed.D. in organizational leadership from the University of Sarasota.

She lives in St Paul, MN with her husband David.

Nonprofit Leadership

Theresa has been teaching, training and consulting in nonprofit and NGO leadership for over 25 years. Her focus is developing leaders, especially in organizations serving missions of peace and justice for a variety of populations locally and around the world. She especially enjoys leadership consulting at the middle management, executive, and board levels, focusing on transformational and servant leadership and now is incorporating mindfulness as a key skill for leaders, creating more effective leaders and organizations.     

Personal Mindful Practice

Theresa has personally engaged in mindful practices for over 25 years and steers students, mentees, and groups she works with towards mindful leadership. She attributes much of her success to her regular practice (it is a journey, not unlike leadership) and recently discovered that at times of great trials, it is especially helpful in alleviating stress, anxiety, and regaining focus.

Theresa’s mother was dually diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Lewy Body dementia (you might remember that Lewy Body was the disease that Robin Williams had). She has been her primary caregiver since. She has relied on mindfulness techniques to care for herself, her mother, and her family through her mother’s journey and genuinely is enjoying getting to know her mother in her new normal state. It is definitely a privilege, supporting and guiding her mother, as she did for Theresa over 50 years ago.