The North STAR Center for Professional Development provides professional development programming that maximizes limited resources, with a focus on building the capacity of individuals and organizations. We invite you to learn more.

We believe that all organizations deserve to have access to professional development opportunities that build knowledge, skills, and abilities, irrespective of their access to resources. Our fundamental commitment is to support the continuous building of individual and organizational capacity, strengthening their ability to better serve communities.









Strengthen and transform individuals and organizations,
through training and education, to be
agile and relevant.



Our approach to professional development programing is centered around where YOU are. Our programming supports development at the cross section between the lifecycle stage of an individual or an organization and the specific areas of capacity development needed.

We do this through in-person, hybrid, and virtual programming that is delivered synchronously and asynchronously year-round.


  • Individuals investing in their own capacity building
  • Organizations investing in their capacity building

Who are:

  • Consumers attending North STAR Programming
  • Developers are organizations who contract for delivery of internal co-created programming
Infographic on "Build individual capacity"
Infographic on "Build organizational capacity"



  • We believe in meeting individuals and organizations where they are at
  • Individual and organizational capacity building is foundational to a thriving community
  • The individual or organization is a co-creator and active participant throughout
  • We seek to understand and support (through programming) where individuals and organizations are in their lifecycle
  • We believe in supportively challenging each other with a focus on individual and organizational growth



United Way of Northern New York’s Education and Training center started in January 2020 providing professional development programming that maximized the limited resources of organizations within our communities, specifically focusing on nonprofits within the North Country.

The North Country Center of Nonprofit Excellence (NCCNE) was conceptualized and planned in 2019, and began operations in January 2020. With the Northern New York Community Foundation (NNYCF) as its key partner, the NCCNE offered professional education in courses that improve the effectiveness and efficiency of nonprofits throughout Northern New York. In the spring of 2020, the North Country Council of Social Agencies joined the NCCNE as a curriculum advisory committee, which strengthened the syllabus to meet the needs of the nonprofit community.

The mission of the NCCNE was to create a professional nonprofit community in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence Counties that maximizes limited resources to most effectively and efficiently serve the community through the education and utilization of best practices, collaboration, and specialized training.

Meet the North STAR Team

A North Country native, Dawn has 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, the past decade of which has been focused on developing programming and community initiatives to address poverty. She holds a B.A. in Public Relations / Marketing and an M.A. in Organizational Leadership from Ashford University. In addition to working in the fields of public broadcasting, academia, and tourism, Dawn served as the deputy director for Community Action Planning Council of Jefferson County (2010 – 2018) and the executive director for Watertown Urban Mission (2018 – 2022).

A strong advocate of those struggling with generational poverty, Dawn is actively involved in “Bridges out of Poverty” and the “Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-by World” workshop series and is co-chair of the North Country Bridges Steering Committee. When not working, she enjoys goofing off with her husband Rick, a transplant from the Greater Toronto Area, and their needy but oh-so-loveable rescue dog Duke.

Allison received a Bachelor’s in Journalism with a specialization in Public Relations from The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) in 2017. A native Ohioan, Allison served as the Communications and Outreach Coordinator for the United Way of Medina County for two years before moving to Seattle, Washington with her husband, who is an officer in the U.S. Army.

Allison joined the United Way of Northern New York in May 2021 and is looking forward to continuing her career within the United Way organization. When she’s not working, Allison enjoys backpacking and skiing with her husband, traveling to new places, and spending time with family and friends.