Leaving the Stage for Nonprofit

PROVO, Utah – Jul 12, 2022 – As a new vocal performance college graduate, Kortney Wall Gong dreamed of being on the stage. However, after spending long nights on the stages of England and California, she realized vocal performance was more of a hobby for her than a career. 

Now, after spending two decades working in business and as a current third-year student in the executive MPA program at the BYU Marriott School of Business, Gong hopes to eventually reach her new career dream: becoming an executive director of a nonprofit organization.

When Gong decided to switch careers, she moved to Utah and started applying for jobs. An offer from a small tech startup company based in Salt Lake City sparked her interest in business. While working for the startup, Gong moved through different roles. She started as the office manager and then took on HR responsibilities, such as managing payroll and organizational duties. 

During this time, Gong discovered she had a strong interest in people and organizational behavior. After she received her certification in human resources management in 2017, she joined smart-home company Vivint as an HR business partner in the product division. She also worked for a London-based company named Ascential and helped manage its Utah offices in Salt Lake City and Sandy as well as remotely manage several offices on the East Coast of the United States. Gong’s career in business led to an interest in nonprofit, which then landed her in the MPA program at BYU Marriott. 
“After I got married in 2020, I decided grad school was the next step,” Gong says. “I initially planned to earn my MBA; however, I’ve recently felt connected to the nonprofit side of business. For the last five years, I’ve volunteered at the HOPE Clinic, where I take blood and work in the lab. 

“During my experiences at the clinic, I felt my two worlds of business and nonprofit work collide,” she continues. “Social impact gave my work a unique sense of meaning and purpose, and I wanted to be more involved in that sector. Armed with my business background and desire to work with nonprofit organizations, I entered the MPA program.” 

Gong, who lives in Salt Lake City, uses skills from her classes in her current position as the director of operations for the Sorensen Impact Center, which is run by the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah.

“The EMPA program gives me a more refined skill set to approach management and executive leadership,” Gong says. “For example, I use knowledge from my statistics class to decide if the data we collect at the Sorensen Center is dependable.” 

Gong’s newly acquired skills will help her reach her ultimate career goal of becoming an executive director of a nonprofit organization. “My passions in the nonprofit sector involve providing education and safety for children,” she says. 

Gong was previously on the board of directors for another nonprofit called Lighthouse Sanctuary, which rescues children from sex trafficking. “Lighthouse Sanctuary provides a care facility for children to heal and receive education. My desire to help children grew immensely as I worked with their organization,” she adds.

In her free time, Gong likes to stay physically active. She has completed several marathons and enjoys bouldering. Gong looks forward to embracing not only future career opportunities but also new family adventures, as she and her husband welcomed their first child in March 2022.

Third-year executive MPA student Kortney Wall Gong hopes to one day become an executive director of a nonprofit organization. Photo courtesy of Vicki Okerlund.
Third-year executive MPA student Kortney Wall Gong hopes to one day become an executive director of a nonprofit organization. Photo courtesy of Vicki Okerlund.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Sarah Calvert