Robert F. Ashcraft, Ph.D. is the executive director of the Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation at Arizona State University (ASU), the Saguaro Professor of Civic Enterprise in ASU's School of Community Resources and Development (SCRD) and an affiliate faculty member of ASU’s School of Public Affairs. In 2017 he was named the Saguaro Professor of Civic Enterprise, the first named professor in the history of SCRD, in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, in recognition of outstanding contributions to ASU’s values and commitment to social purpose enshrined in the University Charter; awarded through the ASU Provost’s Eminent Scholar fund for Endowed Chairs/Professors.
Founded in 1999, the ASU Lodestar Center has emerged as a global leader in advancing effective philanthropic and nonprofit practice as a distinctive community development strategy. Through research, education, technical assistance and convenings, the Center advances nonprofit leaders and philanthropists to solve problems, to realize a community’s highest aspirations and to accelerate social impact. As the Center’s founding executive director, Dr. Ashcraft has a global reputation for his pioneering work to advance the understanding of and effective practice for leaders of nonprofit/philanthropic organizations. Under his leadership, the ASU Lodestar Center is considered one of the world’s leading nonprofit academic centers, renowned for its research, education, leadership programs, technical assistance and conference activities, helping to build the capacity of the social sector for those who lead, manage and support nonprofits.
Dr. Ashcraft teaches courses in nonprofit management and philanthropy, along with the capstone course for students in ASU’s graduate degree program. His research interests have resulted in numerous publications on topics such as nonprofit and social entrepreneurship education models, collaboration strategies and volunteer management. His efforts have resulted in successfully securing more than $40 million in external resources from individuals, foundations and corporate and government entities that, along with earned income strategies through an enterprise model, have bolstered the range of nonprofit and philanthropic programs at ASU.
Dr. Ashcraft has also served since 1984 as executive director of Nonprofit Leadership Alliance at ASU (formerly American Humanics), a flagship program that recruits, educates and inspires undergraduate students across disciplines for nonprofit service careers. His leadership brought about the nation’s first undergraduate degree in the field of nonprofit leadership and management. In prior nonprofit professional service, Dr. Ashcraft worked as a director of volunteers, director of youth and community services, manager of human resources and executive director.
In 2012 Dr. Ashcraft was named one of the most influential leaders in the nonprofit sector by the Nonprofit Times as a member of its “Power and Influence Top 50” list. Dr. Ashcraft is immediate past Chair of the bi-national Board of the U.S.-Mexico Border Philanthropy Partnership (San Diego, CA). Additionally his current board leadership roles includes serving Public Allies (Milwaukee, WI), the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance (Kansas City, MO), the Nonprofit Academic Centers Council (Cleveland, OH), (where he serves as a former President of the board) and the National Association of Park Foundations. In addition to service on a number of scholarly editorial advisory boards, his professional memberships include the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action, the International Society of Third Sector Research and the Association of Fundraising Professionals. In addition, he has served as senior policy advisor to the American Red Cross’ National Office of Volunteers (Washington, D.C.) and as a member of several national boards, including: YMCA of the USA (Chicago, IL), past chair of the National Recreation and Park Association (Ashburn, VA), board member of the Sajai Foundation (Minneapolis, MN), and the Arizona Humanities Council (Phoenix, AZ). Dr. Ashcraft holds a baccalaureate degree from the University of Arizona, an M.A in Education degree from Northern Arizona University, and he earned his Ph.D. degree from Arizona State University.