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Northwestern School of Communication

Michelle Shumate

Professor, Delaney Family University Research Professor
My recent research focuses on Systems of Care. Systems of care are networks designed to connect help-seekers to benefits, programs, and services offered by government and nonprofit organizations. The Army Research Office funded my work evaluating 11 Coordinated Service Delivery Systems. It examined the outcomes of more than 10,000 service episodes and evaluated the relative effectiveness of each network. In addition, she completed a statewide scan for Coordinated Service Delivery Systems in Pennsylvania for The Heinz Endowments. The analysis documented the design and analytics differences in 25 systems. My current research, also supported by the Army Research Office, focuses on helping Systems of Care determine the right referral for a help-seeker - one that will lead to greater wellbeing in the long term.

Area(s) of Expertise

Communication Skills, Design, Network Science, Organizational Behavior, Social Activism and Impact, Strategic Communication
Michelle Shumate

Michelle is the founding director of the Network for Nonprofit and Social Impact (NNSI), the Delaney Family University Research Professor, and Associate Faculty at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University. NNSI is dedicated to answering the question: How can government and nonprofit networks be rewired for maximum social impact?

Her research focuses on how to design interorganizational networks to make the most social impact. She is the author of Networks for Social Impact (2022, Oxford University Press). The National Science Foundation recognized her research with a CAREER award. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Army Research Office. Nonprofit Quarterly, Stanford Social Innovation, and the Conference board have featured her work.

She offers workshops, consulting, and coaching through the Social Impact Network Consulting. She is also spouse to Michael, mom to Oliver and Alex, an avid backyard birdwatcher, and a mediocre tennis player.


  • PhD, University of Southern California
  • MA Communication, University of Southern California
  • BA Communication, Pepperdine University

Recent Awards and Honors

  • Career Award, National Science Foundation, 2010-2015
  • Beckman Fellow, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Center for Advanced Study, 2007-2008