What does being a finalist for this award mean for you and your organization?

Being a finalist for the Board Leadership Award is gratifying; FOLMC appreciates the recognition that, while organizations may be measured on their outcomes and accomplishments, how we do what we do as a Board matters as well. Coming as it does on the heels of a difficult yet necessary structural change to our organization, we are grateful for the validation it confers on our approach to decision-making. We are also thrilled to have the opportunity to share what we’ve learned with other organizations, to help shape the broader nonprofit ecosystem in a positive way.

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

In applying for the Board Leadership Award, we had to present our board governance processes as more than simply fundamentals of best practices; we needed to tease out and demonstrate how those board-led initiatives directly strengthened the organization, and which ones were truly innovative and worth recommending to other boards. We learned some new things about our own operations along the way; for example, we realized that our board committee structure had grown cumbersome and duplicative and took the opportunity to re-align that structure with current priorities.

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

Cultivate ongoing communication between the board leader(s) and executive director; speak often and candidly and listen with an open mind and heart. Bring your experience and expertise but be ready to challenge your own assumptions, ask for help, and learn new things. Finally, don’t be afraid to make the hard choices, as denying painful realities may only serve to make the situation worse for the staff and, ultimately, the organization’s ability to carry out its mission.