Book Cover: Finding Your Way in the Nonprofit Sector

Your Portable Mentor for Avoiding Pitfalls and Seizing Opportunities

Discover how to navigate the challenges of the social service sector. Offering the guidance you need to find fulfillment and success in a unique workplace.

About the Book

Amazon Best Seller SealMany people are drawn to working in the social services sector because it offers a kind of fulfillment usually not available in the for-profit sector. But it also provides a unique set of challenges — often very different from those encountered in for-profit organizations — that can stand in the way of success. Dr. Bruton applies her knowledge about, and experience in, the social services sector to act as your mentor, helping you avoid the pitfalls and take advantage of the opportunities endemic to this unique work environment. Dr. Bruton divides the pitfalls and opportunities into five categories, which she calls the 5 C’s, and leads you through each of them:

  • Care – Taking care of yourself, your clients, and your organization
  • Community – Fitting in and getting the support you need
  • Collaboration – Working well with others and keeping the big picture in mind
  • Can Do – Putting in the kind of effort that will make your work stand out
  • Change – Being prepared for change and taking advantage of it

Dr. Bruton lays out both how you can avoid wrong moves in these areas and how to do the right things. As a psychologically sophisticated guide to working in the social services sector, she provides you with the tools you need to succeed and be fulfilled. Today.

About the Author

Sonya Bruton, Psy.D., MPA, is the CEO and President of CCI Health Services and a licensed clinical psychologist. CCI, incorporated in 1972, is a nonprofit health system that serves 78,400 medical, dental, behavioral health and Women Infants and Children (WIC) participants through 12 delivery sites throughout Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties in Maryland. She has spent twenty-five years in nonprofit leadership positions and has previous careers and a successful track record in fundraising, philanthropy, strategic innovation and community economic development. Dr. Bruton has served as an adjunct professor at the graduate education level in nonprofit management. She has supported nonprofit leaders as an executive coach and emerging leaders as a mentor for 20 years and has a stable of successful leaders and organizations to show for her efforts. Dr. Bruton holds an undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a master’s degree in Public Administration from North Carolina State University and a master’s degree and Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Washington, DC campus. She was named the 2022 John A Gilbert Awardee, a 2022 Women Making Herstory and a 2021 Health Care Hero.

Nonprofit Sector
Compatibility Quiz

Attempting to enter the social services sector when another sector would be a better fit for you, and attempting to do a job within the sector that is not appropriate for you, will cause disruption for the agency you work with and potential heartache for you. Please take a few minutes to answer the questions in this quiz and look deeply into what they reveal about who you are and how easy it will be to fit in this sector.


As someone who has traveled between the for-profit and social service–sector worlds, I find myself wishing I had benefited from this gem of a book way back when. Dr. Sonya Bruton has given us exactly what the subtitle says: a portable mentor, one that reflects the wisdom of a leader who has experienced her own transformative career and now shares those pearls with us.


Coauthor, Working Relationships: Creating Career Opportunities for People with Disabilities through Business Partnerships, with foreword by Richard E. Marriott

Finding Your Way in the Nonprofit Sector is a thought-provoking journey from an accomplished writer and experienced mentor who makes you feel like you are having an intimate—and honest—conversation with a friend! Dr. Bruton provides a framework for achieving the self-understanding required to successfully facilitate fulfillment in the lives of others while simultaneously achieving professional and personal satisfaction in one’s own life.


Executive director and Co-PI, Center for the Advancement of STEM Leadership Fielding Graduate Education Professor and Dean Emeritus, Howard University

Sonya Bruton’s Finding Your Way in the Nonprofit Sector is a wonderful distillation of insights, examples, perspectives, and reference points that untangle the multitude of concurrent issues through which organizations in the social services sector must navigate successfully to advance their important missions. Having (eventually) learned many of these lessons the hard way, I am deeply thankful for the guidance she offers in her book that will help smooth the path moving forward in the always dynamic environment that organizations and leaders face.


President and CEO, DirectRelief

At work, we are always in development. In Finding Your Way in the Nonprofit Sector, Dr. Sonya Bruton demonstrates practical, effective ways to avoid being overwhelmed and grow into a rewarding career in human services. How far you grow is how far you go. When you and your team grow in an environment of psychological safety, everyone feels more deeply committed to the organization. With stories rooted in real-world challenges she has overcome, Dr. Bruton shares her hard-won experience navigating relationships for collaboration and support and managing managers to foster a culture of learning. This is a master class in nonprofit management to advance your career with meaning and fulfillment. With this portable mentor, you will find your way. Readable, actionable, and uplifting.


Author, The Conscious Professional: Transform Your Life at Work

Through her experience and expertise, Dr. Bruton offers advice via a virtual portable mentor for emerging social service leaders, thoughtfully outlining an inquisitive and self-guided approach to cultivating connections, networking, and peer learning.


President and CEO, Bi-State Primary Care Association

In Finding Your Way in the Nonprofit Sector, Dr. Bruton combines personal experience and empirical evidence to produce a guide that is both educational and specific to the needs of the young professional. This pocket mentor supports young professionals across disciplines in finding their way through tasks that are collaborative, community-based, and rooted in care. The Five Cs eloquently articulate personal and professional tasks to aid young professionals in thriving.


Clinical Psychology Doctoral Candidate

At a time in our world when many are searching for guidance on how to lead and serve with greater purpose, Dr. Bruton’s book offers an honest, practical blueprint on how to achieve success in the nonprofit sector. This book navigates through organizational trenches and around leadership landmines to higher levels of awareness. This is a must read!


Attorney and Non-Profit Agency Executive, Mediation Solutions

This is a terrific book. I’d recommend it to just about anyone at any stage trying to find their way in the nonprofit world. Bruton writes in the spirit of the best mentors. Drawing on her deep well of experience, she offers us a refreshingly clear, candid, and compelling path forward. Finding your way is practical and inspiring. Read it now and come back to it again and again.


Professor Emerita, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Founding Director, Marian Cheek Jackson Center

Dr. Bruton has very intentionally, and accurately, created answers to many questions one finds oneself asking in many workplace scenarios. This portable mentor is indeed that. It is the handy manual that one keeps referring back to when wondering, “What just happened here?” Dr. Bruton’s insight and wisdom looks at the social services sector, but many of her examples and solutions are extremely helpful in almost any work environment. I look forward to suggesting this work to upcoming graduates as well as seasoned workplace vets who could benefit from her wise counsel and action step questions.


Associate Vice President for the Library and Learning Commons at Goucher College

A practical, constructive guide for achieving success in the social services field. Great for fans of Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead.

BookLife by Publishers Weekly

Written with young professionals who are considering nonprofit work in mind, Finding Your Way in the Non-Profit Sector introduces a clear framework for navigating related leadership and cultural issues.

Foreword Reviews

An illuminating guide to navigating social services work that also has applications for any field.

Kirkus Reviews

Have you ever wondered what drives a social service worker? Dr. Sonya Bruton provides the answer in Finding Your Way in the Nonprofit Sector.

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