Watson Institute at Brown University
Public Policy

William J. Allen

+1 401 225 8827
59 Charlesfield Street



William J. Allen

Adjunct Lecturer in International and Public Affairs

Areas of Interest: Nonprofit practice and policy and high performance, high impact and innovative nonprofit organizations, social entrepreneurship, strategic thinking and planning.


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 United Way of Rhode Island in 1996.

At Brown, Allen teaches courses in nonprofit policy and practice, social entrepreneurship and has co-responsibility for the graduate capstone program. 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 chair of the boards of Lincoln School, Amos House, RI Service Alliance (now Serve RI), RI Kids Count, Clean Power Now and the Cumberland Library and is vice chair of Children’s Friend. He is a member of the Butler Hospital Foundation board, Butler’s IRB, and Care New England’s Strategic Planning Committee.

Allen has a master’s degree in social planning 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.


PPAI 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.

PPAI 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.

PPAI 2900 Research Seminar/Capstone (graduate)

Capstone is a rigorous and practical immersion with a client in a domestic or global community-based or institutional setting. It is focused on experiential learning and creative problem solving. Real-world, complex contemporary problems are addressed, policy and practice-based solutions explored, strategies identified and future approaches recommended. Student teams conduct research to understand contemporary problems and issues and develop policy and practice-related solutions to address these issues and/or enhance an organization’s capacity. Skills are developed that are fundamental to successful teamwork and working with clients, consulting, project and time management, and analysis, systems and strategic thinking and effective data presentation.