City Blossoms works with community-based neighborhood groups, and schools to create outdoor spaces where children and youth can use their creativity, intellect, and energy to grow and maintain fantastic and functioning gardens. The organization’s youth-driven gardens provide healthy activities and safe spaces to play and explore through a unique method of developing and engaging youth as the main cultivators.

What does winning this award mean for you and your organization?

Being a finalist for this prestigious award gives credibility to the work we do as a Board in supporting the organizational needs of City Blossoms. It legitimizes our unique leadership approach and confirms that we are establishing policies and processes that are beneficial to City Blossoms as it grows. It will also help City Blossoms continue to grow a strong and respected reputation amongst potential partner organizations, future funders and prospective board members.

What have you learned through the application process for the Board Leadership Award?

We have learned that the supportive environment our Board operates under plays a critical role in advancing City Blossoms’ mission and quality of execution. Although identifying board members “super powers” has been an internal tool sharing and discussing it with award panelists has helped us realize how powerful of a tool it really is, as it highlights each individual board members’ abilities in support of the whole Board. Each of us play a critical role and feel appreciated by the rest of the group for our efforts and can truly see how together they have a substantial effect on City Blossoms’ overall health, growth and achievements.

What advice would you offer for other organizations/board members striving for excellence in board leadership?

Boards are similar to ecosystems in the way that they are ever-changing while requiring a careful balance to thrive. If the Board’s leadership takes the time to help each member identify their strengths within the network then individuals get clarity on their roles, can self-identify ways to contribute towards projects and committees, and get a better sense of how to work within the larger group dynamics. Within this balance successes occur.

Another area for harmony is within the relationship between the Board and the organization’s leadership. Board micro-management can harm the effective execution of the organization’s mission through the Executive Directors and staff; but a hands-off approach may not help the organization find the right alignment of mission/vision and day-to-day management or enable the staff to best use the Board’s collective talents and skills. Each groups of leaders is different but honest and clear communication through regular conversations and periods for longer deeper discussions, like strategic planning sessions are beneficial towards creating as strong sense of partnership.