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

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

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