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Unexpected Bias Reveals Need for Diversity

This post is the third in a series about hiring a new CEO or Executive Director. The first post is the story about an effective search that resulted in a great CEO. The second post included three stories which explored how the outgoing Executive Director might be (or not be) involved in the search process. This post tells a story about a new President of a community college – a minority, immigrant woman — who faced challenges after being hired. The board chair sadly recognized that race and gender bias were a big issue. He acknowledged that had he and… Read more

Potential Pitfalls: Role of Outgoing CEO in Hiring Replacement

In my last post, I started a series on the most important job for a nonprofit board: hiring an Executive Director or CEO. I shared a story about a rigorous search process that resulted in a great CEO for the organization. Several years later, board members were still happy with their choice and the individual I interviewed outlined what was done well – and some changes that could be made in the future. In this second part of the series, I recount three stories – from one individual – which examine if and how an outgoing CEO should be involved… Read more

Hiring a New CEO or Executive Director

Hiring a new CEO or Executive Director is one of the most important jobs – if not the most important job — for a board. You are hiring the person who represents the organization, sets its direction, and motivates its staff and stakeholders. As I interviewed board members around the country, the significance – and the difficulty – of making the right decision came up over and over. So, I am going to dedicate several posts to this topic. And I am going start with a story of a successful CEO search – one where several years down the road,… Read more

Define Roles and Engage Board Members

I was told about a board where the ED worked very hard for months on a strategic planning document. The ED worked with staff and got input from community partners. Board members were not part of the process. When the ED brought the final plan to the board, they tore it apart. I share this story often. People join boards because they are passionate about the mission and want to add value to the organization. Organizations spend a lot of effort identifying board members with great skills such as finance, communications, marketing, and fund raising. And then there is this… Read more

How Board Members Can Influence Decisions. Illustration by Janet Levinger.

Build Trust and Focus on Values

As a board member, it is important to understand your role versus the role of the staff and the executive director. Every board struggles to find the right balance. Boards have fiduciary responsibility; they are legally responsible for the organization. They determine the vision and mission of the organization, they select and manage the executive director or CEO, they make sure the organization has adequate resources, and they set key strategies and policies. Board members should not be making daily decisions about programs or communications. That said, an organization often asks an individual to join their board because they have… Read more