Kevin Kearns

3917 Posvar
Curriculum vitae


  • PhD, Public Management and Policy, University of Pittsburgh, 1983
  • MPA, Public Administration, University of Pittsburgh, 1980
  • BS, Urban Affairs, University of Dayton, 1977


Kevin Kearns is Professor of Public and Nonprofit Management in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA), University of Pittsburgh.  He is also Director of the Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership, a program that promotes ethical leadership in public and nonprofit institutions.  

Dr. Kearns has held a variety of leadership positions in higher education and philanthropy.  While on leave from the University of Pittsburgh, he served as President of The Forbes Funds, a supporting organization of the Pittsburgh Foundation devoted to capacity-building in nonprofit organizations.  In that role he designed a new grant making and capacity-building strategy, implemented an applied research program later named the Tropman Research Fund, and launched the Alfred Wishart Award for Nonprofit Excellence.

He has published books and articles in leading research journals on topics of interest to nonprofit leaders including accountability, strategic planning, board development, revenue strategies, and general management.  His articles have appeared in journals such as Public Administration Review, Nonprofit Management and Leadership, and Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly.  His third book, Private Sector Strategies for Public Sector Success, was honored with the Terry McAdam Best Book Award by the Alliance for Nonprofit Management.  

Kearns has won awards for outstanding teaching, including the 2005 Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Teaching at the University of Pittsburgh.  On five occasions, the students have named him “Teacher of the Year” in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, most recently in 2014.  In 2007 Dr. Kearns held a Fulbright Fellowship to teach nonprofit management in the Czech Republic.  He has lectured on nonprofit management in Taiwan, Indonesia, Macedonia and Brazil.

Dr. Kearns has served on the boards of directors of many nonprofit organizations.  He is actively engaged in national speaking and service to professional societies that are advancing the art and science of nonprofit management.  He holds a bachelors degree from the University of Dayton and masters and doctoral degrees from the University of Pittsburgh.

Teaching and Research Areas

Strategic management, nonprofit management, public administration.

Select Publications and Funded Research


  • Kevin P. Kearns (2000). Private Sector Strategies for Social Sector Success, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Inc. This book received the 2001 Terry McAdam Best Book Award from the Alliance for Nonprofit Management.  (This book has been translated into Chinese and published in Taiwan by the Himalaya Foundation)
  • Kevin P. Kearns (1996). Managing for Accountability: Preserving the Public Trust in Public and Nonprofit Organizations, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Inc.
  • Thomas L. Saaty and Kevin P. Kearns (1985). Analytic Planning: The Organization of Systems, London: Pergamon.  (Translated and published in Russia, 1991).

Journal Articles

  • Bok Gyo Jeong and Kevin Kearns (2015 forthcoming) "Accountability in Korean NPOs: Perceptions and Strategies of NPO Leaders." Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations.
  • Kevin P. Kearns, Jonathan Livingston, Shelley Scherer, and Lydia McShane (2014 forthcoming). "Nonprofit Leadership Skills as Construed by Chief Executive Officers," Leadership and Organization Development
  • Kevin P. Kearns (2014). "The Nonprofit Clinic at the University of Pittsburgh: Preparing Students for Transition to Professional Settings." Teaching Public Administration, Vol. 32, No. 1, 21-38.
  • Kevin P. Kearns (2013) “Ethics in Nonprofit Organizations: Theoretical and Practical Considerations,” in Ethics and Public Management, Richard Ghere and George Frederickson, (eds.) Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe
  • Kevin P. Kearns (2012) “Accountability in the Nonprofit Sector,” in The State of Nonprofit America, 2nd ed., Lester Salamon, (ed.) Washington: Brookings
  • Kevin P. Kearns (2011) “Accountability: Abandoning the ‘One Size Fits All’ Approach,” in Accountable Governance: Problems and Promises Melvin Dubnick and George Frederickson (eds), Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe

Consultancies, Public Service, and Awards/Honors

  • Fulbright-Masaryk Award for Nonprofit Management, Prague, Czech Republic, 2007
  • Human Services Center Corporation, Board of Directors, 2007-Present


Nonprofit Clinic
Strategic Management
Nonprofit Management

Other Faculty and Academic Administration Positions

  • Director, Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh


Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
3601 Wesley W. Posvar Hall, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260