Dig Deep Before Joining a Board

I did not ask to look at all of the financials. I just took their word that they were okay.  The organization was a passion project for its founders. They were in a period of their lives where they were asking: do they stop doing the work or do they ramp it up? At the same time, the organization received a large grant from a big foundation that was interested in building their capacity. The organization decided they would accept the grant, build a team, and use this generous gift to develop a strategy to double down on the work… Read more

A Board Member Says Thank You

I want to devote this column to what I am thankful for as a board member. The Native People Were Awesome! Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I was taught in school that the Pilgrims and the Native People broke bread to celebrate a bountiful harvest. I was also taught that the Pilgrims wanted to thank the Native People for helping them survive their first year on this soil. This was ostensibly the first Thanksgiving. That story is mostly a myth, one that overpowers the true story of how European settlers treated Native People. I say it is mostly a myth because I… Read more

Expert Advice on Hiring a New Executive Director

I wanted to finish off my exploration of hiring a new executive director or CEO by asking an expert. Melissa Merritt has done executive searches for twenty years including ten years in the nonprofit sector. She shares her insights about how a board can prepare for a search and what makes the process most successful. This post is my final in a series about hiring a new CEO or Executive Director. The first post talks about a successful process. The second addresses how the outgoing ED should be involved. The third talks about the need for diversity on the search… Read more

An Executive Director Search that Went Wrong

This post is my fourth in a series about hiring a new CEO or Executive Director. The first post talks about a successful process. The second post addresses how the outgoing ED should be involved. The third post talks about the need for diversity on the search committee to avoid unexpected bias. In this post, the board member reflects on racial and gender bias and a flawed process where a close decision was rushed without examining objections to the candidate. Strategies for Getting the Right Person for Your Organization By a Dedicated Board Member, Somewhere in USA These events happened… Read more

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