Let's start a conversation: How can boards be most effective? What lessons — good and bad — have you learned from your experiences?

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Thoughts on Hiring a New CEO or ED

A friend who is board chair of a local nonprofit called to ask me about hiring a new ED. The long-time, founding ED of his organization had given notice. Nothing was broken, the ED just felt it was time to move on. My friend knew that I had participated in ED searches and wanted to know if I could give him an overview of the process and share my thoughts. He also recognized that hiring a new ED or CEO is one of the most important jobs of a nonprofit board. This is what I shared. 1. Communications I cannot… Read more

Changing Aspirations Is Hard

I spoke to a CEO who was brought in to make changes. The organization was being passed over for funding. The previous CEO had been there a long time, had created an aspirational vision for the organization, and was well liked by staff. Board and staff had embraced the aspirational goals of the previous CEO. The new CEO had to lead board and staff to embrace a new vision. Be Clear About a New CEO’s Mandate As told by a nonprofit CEO somewhere in the USA. When you come into a job as a new CEO, there are all kinds… Read more

Process Matters Even with an Internal Candidate for ED

I spoke with a new executive director who had been elevated to that role after serving as deputy director. She described how her board created a transparent search process to make sure she was a good fit for the position. She further explained that going through an interview process was also good for her because it helped her articulate her strengths and vision. Develop a Profile to See if an Internal Candidate Is a Good Fit As told by an Executive Director somewhere in the US Transitions matter and people don’t think enough about succession and leadership. For the last… Read more

Be Intentional About Connections and Culture

I spoke to an ED of an organization in the mental health field. They reflected on the past year and some intentional actions that were taken to create connections and trust between board members so that hard decisions could be made. They also spoke of the impact of DEI training and that they are looking forward embracing advocacy. During COVID, ED Leans Into Board for Support We have a big board – 30 people. We are in the mental health field. Reflecting on the past year and more, I would say that I have leaned into the board in ways… Read more

How Do We Keep Helping the Kids?

I spoke to the board chair of an organization that works in community mental health. Reflecting on the last year and a half, he described how the board focused on making sure their organization could continue providing vital services. He expressed their commitment to the core work which meant the board stepping up to raise sufficient funds. Kids’ Problems Don’t Go Away As told by a Board Chair somewhere in the U.S. My organization serves kids and families coping with mental illness, substance abuse, and violence. We work in schools as well as directly. When COVID hit, the board’s first… Read more