The Journey to a Diverse Board

Every board I have served on has wanted to be more diverse – more diverse in many ways: by race and culture, by age and gender, by geography. Yet most boards don’t do a good job at achieving the diversity they strive for. In this post, one ED shares his journey to a truly diverse board. His primary lessons – take your time, build trust, listen, be humble. Diversity is important – having many voices at the table changes not only the conversation but also decisions made and actions taken. Creating a diverse board sends a powerful signal to staff,… Read more

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