Helen Lowman, Ph.D. is a 2020 graduate of the PHD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.


Dr. Helen Lowman at her Dissertation Defense.

From L-R: Dr. Mitch Kusy, Committee Chair, Dr.Jon Wergin, Committee Member, Dr. Kathy Kretman (not shown), Committee Member

Dissertation Committee

  • Mitch Kusy, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Jon Wergin, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Kathy Kretman, Ph.D., Committee Member


Nonprofit, Non-profit, Executive Director, Chief Executive Officer, ED, CEO, Leader, Leadership, Rebrand, Change, Relevance, Iconic, Legacy, Innovation, Change, Portraiture

Document Type


Publication Date



In the United States, we often refer to the social sector as one leg of a three-legged stool. The private and public sectors support the other two legs. The social sector made up of nonprofit, nongovernmental, and charity organizations, contributes to the development of American society by focusing on social good rather than the desire to make profit. For decades, the sector has functioned as the social conscience of our society. However, many iconic, legacy nonprofits have struggled to keep their relevance in today’s world: their creation tied to a past societal problem, their mission and brand no longer germane to today’s generations. This study examined top-level—Chief Executive Officer (CEO)—leaders of iconic, legacy nonprofit organizations who have worked to implement reform and change through rebranding for renewed relevance. The research looked particularly at these primary areas: (1) What drove the leader to innovate and rebrand their organization and what does it mean to them personally and professionally? (2) What leadership practices did the CEO incorporate to allow the changes and reforms to be successful and why does the CEO believe they worked? The research methodology utilized for this dissertation was qualitative portraiture; portraiture interviews were audio and video recorded for research purposes. This research adds to the body of knowledge about successful leaders of iconic nonprofit organizations and the best practices for achieving renewed relevance through nonprofit rebranding. This research could aid with building an awareness of the successes and challenges of nonprofit leaders and could increase the interest of potential organizational stakeholders in the future. Six supplemental Mp4 video files of participant interviews accompany this dissertation. This dissertation is available in open access at AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive, and OhioLINK ETD Center,



Helen Lowman, Ph.D.

ORCID Scholar ID #: #0000-0002-4598-3229

Dr. Helen Lowman joined Keep America Beautiful as President & CEO in May 2017 with more than 20 years of leadership experience in the areas of international diplomacy and development, youth engagement, environmental education, disaster resilience, global leadership, volunteerism, social justice and human rights. From 2010 to 2017, Helen served as an appointee of the President of the United States in the senior foreign service and the senior executive service. Prior to joining Keep America Beautiful, she was Director-Individual and Community Preparedness at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in Washington, D.C., overseeing programs to increase citizen and community preparedness while encouraging disaster and crisis resilience. Also, during her tenure with the Obama administration, she served in a variety of roles with the Peace Corps, directing Peace Corps’ largest U.S. headquarters’ office and working with leadership on strategic reforms related to volunteer recruitment and admittance. Additionally, she was Regional Director-Europe, Mediterranean and Asia, Peace Corps’ largest geographic region. Earlier in her career, she was Vice-President of Intercultural Education and Quality for AFS-USA, Peace Corps Country Director for China and Mongolia, and managed environmental education events and initiatives with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Helen, who speaks four languages, is a graduate of Austin College and received her master’s degree in International Economics and Development from the University of Denver, Joseph Korbel School of International Studies. She completed her Ph.D. at Antioch University, Graduate School of Leadership and Change. She is a Board member of PYXERA Global and was a Peace Corps volunteer for three years in Thailand.

David (1).mp4 (650799 kB)
Jennifer (1).mp4 (1462835 kB)
Jim (1).mp4 (938650 kB)
John (1).mp4 (803502 kB)
Lisa (1).mp4 (734340 kB)
Stacey (1).mp4 (1470385 kB)