Ask Brenda Rosen to describe the organization she oversees as executive director and she will say that its “two biggest lines of business are as a real estate developer and a property manager.” Given her location in New York City, this characterization hardly seems unusual—no doubt hundreds, maybe thousands, of other outfits in America’s most densely populated metropolis fit that description as well.

What makes Rosen’s description telling is the clientele her nonprofit organization,...

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