Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
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Bill Allen, Watson Institute, Brown University

William J. Allen

+1 401 863 2201
280 Brook Street, Room 240



William J. Allen

Senior Fellow in International and Public Affairs


Bill Allen held senior management positions in three local United Ways, most recently as executive vice president of community services at the United Way of Rhode Island from 1977 to 2004. He was interim president of this United Way in 1996.

At Brown, Allen teaches courses in nonprofit policy and practice, social entrepreneurship, applied policy research and the MPA Policy in Action Consultancy program. He is the lead Rhode Island faculty in the nonprofit core certificate program of the Tufts University-affiliated Institute for Nonprofit Practice. He has been a member of the adjunct faculties at Providence College and Boston College School of Social Work.

Allen has served as an elected member and chair of the Town of Cumberland School Committee. He has been chairman of the boards of Lincoln School, Amos House, RI Service Alliance (now Serve RI), RI Kids Count, Clean Power Now and the Cumberland Library. He is currently board chairman of the Butler Hospital Foundation and Children’s Friend.

Allen has a master’s degree in social planning (MSP) from Boston College School of Social Work. He received the John O. Stiteley Distinguished Public Service Award from the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration and the David E. Sweet Leadership Award from Leadership Rhode Island.


PLCY 1700 Nonprofit Organizations

This seminar takes a critical look at the capacity of nonprofit organizations to create value and to use innovative strategies and new models of practice and policy to achieve significant impact and transformational social change. It explores organizational models that are high performance, high impact and innovative. It looks at the fundamental principles and practices which, when applied, have contributed to success. Students are challenged to reimagine the nonprofit sector and its role, to look at nonprofits as part of broader domestic and global systems and to propose bold ways to address the sector’s deficiencies.

PLCY 1910 Social Entrepreneurship

This course introduces students to social innovation and social entrepreneurship and engages them in identifying significant global problems and innovative solutions that drive social change. The course helps students understand some of the strategies that social entrepreneurs employ to create high-impact enterprises, highlighting unique models of social enterprise that offer bold solutions to complex social problems.