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Alumnus Creates Knowledge Management Nonprofit Organization

Posted Jun. 13, 2013

After completing his master’s degree in Information Architecture and Knowledge Management, Edwin K. Morris, M.S. ’12, has devoted his time to creating a knowledge management (KM) nonprofit organization.

Morris founded Pioneer Knowledge Services, a nonprofit corporation designed to educate and raise awareness of the need for knowledge management in nonprofits. He now consults with organizations to determine how KM can help their mission and provides training as needed.

Edwin MorrisWhen Morris first suggested the idea of starting a knowledge management-based organization, his former KM professors said they had never heard of anyone attempting it before and encouraged him to pursue his dream. 

The word pioneer was brought into the organization’s title to show how Morris has created something out of nothing. Knowledge management services are not common yet, and many people are not familiar with this area. Ultimately, Pioneer Knowledge Services, located in Arizona where Morris lives, will primarily assist nonprofits with personnel issues, employee turnover, onboarding processes and retaining knowledge within the company.

“The mission of Pioneer Knowledge Services is to add to the societal structure,” Morris said. “Most nonprofits are geared to assist, educate, and make others’ circumstances better. Our society could benefit greatly by the added value of an organization that focuses and values its intellectual capital.”

After starting this organization, Morris earned the nickname of the “Johnny Appleseed of knowledge management.”

“Johnny Appleseed planted seeds not because of the immediate gains, but because people would eventually benefit from his efforts,” he said. “If I plant seeds of knowledge management now, hopefully in time people will benefit from the culture change and knowledge ecosystem that was created.”

Morris believes that all nonprofits should embrace the act of stewardship by making something better than when it was found. He wants to embrace this value personally by making nonprofits better with his creation of Pioneer Knowledge Services.

“Most organizations are challenged because they are not taking care of intellectual capital,” he said. “When people come and go out of an organization, there are voids as knowledge goes with the people who leave. There is a lull when managers have to train new employees in that area of expertise. Overall, the work environment challenge is to capture and sustain the knowledge perpetuating the knowledge ecosystem those people represent.”

In addition to creating a new nonprofit organization, Morris has taken on the responsibility of creating the first Kent State University knowledge management alumni group. He is currently using the social networking site Yammer and other Web-based resources. 

“This group was established to be a professional resource and to provide camaraderie and networking,” he said. “It’s helping to build a network of knowledge management professionals. It’s not just a career enhancing product, but a tool that provides a long-term community of practice.”

In addition to Morris’ activities with his newly formed company, he will be traveling to Costa Rica in June to talk with University of Peace, a United Nations University. According to University of Peace’s website, the university’s mission is “to provide humanity with an international institution of higher education for peace with the aim of promoting among all human beings the spirit of understanding, tolerance and peaceful coexistence, to stimulate cooperation among peoples and to help lessen obstacles and threats to world peace and progress, in keeping with the noble aspirations proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations.”

“I will be traveling there as a professional ambassador to launch a dialog between Kent State and the University of Peace about collaboration around knowledge management,” Morris said. “I’ll be proposing the idea of partnering with the University of Peace to develop a curriculum that fits into the overarching goal of knowledge management. Knowledge management is what makes peace happen; it’s an intricate component of a culture to create a peaceful environment.”

In May, Morris received the Thomas J. Froehlich Award from the school. The award recognizes "academic excellence and promise for leadership in the field of information architecture and knowledge management."

The Master of Science in Information Architecture and Knowledge Management (IAKM), with concentrations in health informatics, knowledge management and user experience design, is offered through the School of Library and Information Science. For more information, visit http://iakm.kent.edu.

-- By Nicole Gennarelli