Expert Advice on Conflict of Interest

In my last post, I shared a story of a school — they tried to figure out how to hire and then supervise the son of the head of school who was best qualified for a position. They had great intentions but there were too many conflicts and they ended up with a well-intended mess. Understanding conflict of interest and managing it appropriately is extremely important for boards. Not doing so can lead to legal risks. In today’s post, I interview Lorri Anne Dunsmore. Lorri Anne is an attorney with Perkins Coie, specializing in tax exempt organizations. She defines conflict,… Read more

No One Should Be Indispensable

In my last two posts, I shared stories about a founder who stayed around too long and another founder who made a positive and gracious exit. In this post, I share a story about the founder of an all-volunteer organization who wanted to move on but could not because they were not set up for leadership transition. There are two lessons from this story. The first is to make sure you don’t rely too much on one individual – either as ED or as Board Chair. As a board member, you have responsibility for the well-being of the organization. If… Read more

Check Your Ego and Prioritize the Organization

I love to share good stories. After my last post (about a founding ED who would not let go), a reader reached out to me to share a very different story. In this post, the founding CEO, the board chair, and the new CEO worked together to make a smooth and successful transition. What worked? Everyone emphasized their commitment to the organization, putting mission before ego. The founder pledged to support the new CEO. The board created a thoughtful, strategic process that prepared them and staff for the transition for the future. The new CEO and the founder developed a… Read more

When Founders Stick Around

I shared a story about a board that needed to become more professional in how they chose board officers. From its founding, the organization was very casual about how who stepped into leadership. As a result, they did not always get individuals best suited for each role. And, they discovered that a casual process can create uncomfortable situations. Organizations and boards go through stages as they grow and mature. The way things are done and the roles people have change over time. In this post, I share a story from an individual who was the second Executive Director of an… Read more

Advice to Prospective Board Members

In my last post, I shared a story about a board member who did not look closely enough at financials and joined the board of an organization that was in trouble. They ended up closing down the organization which was heart breaking for many. This individual urged board members to “dig deep” into financial and legal issues. In today’s post, I share from two board members. Both provide a check list that they recommend using when deciding whether or not to join a board. These lists are also useful to current board members who want to ensure that they add… Read more