Francie Ostrower, Ph.D.

Professor of Public Affairs and Fine Arts, Senior Fellow


Francie Ostrower, Ph.D. is Professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs and the Department of Theatre and Dance, Director of the Portfolio Program in Arts and Cultural Management and Entrepreneurship, and Senior Fellow in the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service. Prior to joining the University of Texas in 2008, she was Senior Research Associate at the Urban Institute Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy. Prior to that, she was a sociology faculty member at Harvard University. Dr. Ostrower received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Yale University, where she also served as Associate Director of the Program on Nonprofit Organizations. She has been a Visiting Professor at IAE de Paris/Sorbonne Graduate Business School and is an Urban Institute Affiliated Scholar.

Dr. Ostrower is currently Principal Investigator of Building Audiences for Sustainability Initiative: Research and Evaluation, a six-year study of audience-building activities commissioned and funded by The Wallace Foundation through a $3.5 million grant. The study seeks to understand how performing arts organizations can attract new audiences while retaining current ones, in a sustainable way, and whether audience building contributes to the organization’s financial health.

Dr. Ostrower is the author of books on Trustees of Culture and Why the Wealthy Give, which received awards from ARNOVA and Independent Sector, and co-author of Race, Ethnicity and Participation in the Arts. Among her articles and monographs are Attitudes and Practices Concerning Effective Philanthropy (recipient of Independent Sector's Virginia Hodgkinson Research Prize); Nonprofit Governance in the United States; The Reality Underneath the Buzz of Partnerships; The Diversity of Cultural Participation and a co-authored chapter on governance in The Nonprofit Sector: A Research Handbook. Her research has been supported by numerous grants, including grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Aspen Institute.

Dr. Ostrower is a board member and past-President of the Association for Research on Voluntary and Nonprofit Action (ARNOVA) and in recent years has served on the Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly board, the academic advisory committee of the Stanford Social Innovation Review and the National Endowment for the Arts 2012 SPPA Working Group.

In the News

Aspen Institute - 02/21/2012 Foundation Sunset: A Decision-Making Guide

Francie Ostrower discusses the major issues that donors, trustees, and staff confront when considering or implementing a sunset plan. Download the paper >

LBJ School of Public Affairs News - 08/29/2011 LBJ School and Fine Arts Professor Francie Ostrower Elected President of ARNOVA

The Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) has elected LBJ School and Fine Arts Professor Francie Ostrower as President Elect for 2011.

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly - 10/01/2010 Moving Governance Research Forward: A Contingency-Based Framework and Data Application

The purpose of this article is to present an initial framework for understanding nonprofit board governance and then, using findings from the Urban Institute National Survey of Nonprofit Governance, explore relationships between variables presented in the framework. The framework is based on a recent review of the literature and highlights the ways in which internal organizational characteristics, board attributes, and the external environment influence board roles and responsibilities. In brief, our results confirm the importance of developing a more systematic body of knowledge about relationships between specific elements of context and board practices. The results suggest that the proposed contingency-based framework is a useful beginning point for future research.

Download Article

The Daily Beast - 09/23/2010 The $100 Million Status Symbol

Professor Francie Ostrower comments on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg's $100 million gift.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy - 05/21/2009 Foundation Life Spans: a Vexing Issue

Francie Ostrower discusses how the issues donors face in deciding whether to set up a foundation in perpetuity or for a limited life are not black and white.


05/12/2017 - Austin, TX

Looking Forward: Partnerships for Sustainable Impact
Central Texas Funders Forum – Collaboration for Community Impact sponsored by the Grant Professionals Association
Moderator: Dr. Ostrower; Panelists: Representatives from the Andy Roddick Foundation, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, and the Mitte Foundation

06/24/2015 - Paris, France

Governance and Organizational Environments: Increasing Complexity, Changing Boundaries
Symposium: Governance of Associations and Democracy (convened by the IAE Paris Sorbonne Graduate Business School)
Fellow Presenters: Dr. Philippe Eynaud, Dr. Stéphanie Chatelain-Ponroy, Dr. Géraldine Schmidt, Dr. Samuel Sponem

04/24/2015 - Kansas City, Missouri

Close Cousins or Distant Relatives? Critical Questions and an Empirical Agenda for Researching Governance in Hybrid Organizations
2015 Nonprofit Governance Conference (convened by the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership and the Nonprofit Quarterly; co-sponsored by the Alliance for Nonprofit Management and the Governance Section of ARNOVA)
Co-presenter: Dr. Melissa Stone

09/18/2014 - Austin, TX

Scholarship and Research-Based Practice; What is the Connection? Moderator for special session sponsored by the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) at the 2014 national conference of the Alliance for Nonprofit Management.

07/27/2014 - Montreal, Canada

"Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Boards" -  Panel presentation (Economy and Culture) at the 18th International Conference of the Association for Cultural Economics International (ACEI).

04/10/2014 - Bloomington, Indiana

"Diversity on Cultural Boards" - Invited talk at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University at Bloomington.

07/14/2013 - Liege, Belgium

Presentation (with Melissa Stone). “Governing Boards and Organizational Environments: Growing Complexities, Shifting Frameworks” - 4th EMES International Research Conference on Social Enterprise, University of Liege.

02/07/2013 - New York, NY

Panelist. “The Fundamental Role of States in Governance Issues” - 2013 Charities Regulation Policy Conference, Columbia Law School, Columbia University.

11/15/2012 - Indianapolis, IN

“Diversity in Nonprofit Cultural Organizations” - Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) annual conference.

09/22/2011 - Atlanta, Georgia

Presented on "Nonprofit Boards: What a National Survey Tells Us," at the BoardSource Leadership Forum.

04/14/2011 - Los Angeles, CA

“Foundation Sunset as a Philanthropic Strategy" - University of Southern California, Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy, School of Policy, Planning and Development.

04/08/2011 - College Station, TX

“Nonprofit Boards: What Do We Know and How Can it Help?” - Opening plenary presentation at the Texas A&M University Bush School of Government & Public Service Nonprofit Management Forum.

12/02/2010 - Washington, DC

Spoke at "Foundation Spend Down: Strategies, Lessons and Options," co-sponsored by Aspen Institute, Philanthropy Roundtable, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers.