A strong board of directors essential for nonprofit effectiveness
By Alicia Philipp, president, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
People often ask me about the keys to a successful nonprofit organization, and one of those is having a strong board of directors to help guide your work. An engaged board helps with governance and oversight for a nonprofit and can also bring perspectives and skills the organization may not have on its staff.
Individuals considering joining a nonprofit board should understand that it’s not just something to do because you value a cause or want to boost your resume. Board service requires a dedicated commitment of volunteer time and talent.
Nonprofit boards should be inclusive and diverse, with members who reflect the community that the organization serves and who represent various life experiences and cultures. Specific job descriptions for board members should be documented, including term lengths and term limits, to ensure that new skills and perspectives are brought to the table regularly.
The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta recently added four new members to its Board of Directors. Rabbi Peter Berg has been senior rabbi of The Temple since 2008 and is passionate about Jewish learning and meaningful worship and is an advocate for social change. Richard W. Courts IV is President of Atlantic Realty Company, a privately held commercial real estate firm providing real estate investment, development, brokerage and advisory services to clients since 1936. Julia Houston is chief transformation officer at Equifax, a position to which she was named in 2017 after the company’s significant cybersecurity incident. And Wonya Lucas is President and CEO of Public Broadcasting Atlanta where she oversees Atlanta’s NPR (WABE) and PBS (ATL PBA) stations. Additionally, Susan Grant who is a retired CNN executive and community volunteer, begins her three-year term as Board Chair.
Each of these leaders brings a perspective that will help propel the Community Foundation forward on our work to make the Atlanta region more equitable for all residents. Last year I announced my intent to retire in 2020 – adding a CEO search and transition to the Board’s responsibilities requires dedicated leadership from all who serve our organization. Nonprofits that are experiencing significant change, whether through growth, challenges, or succession plans, should be especially mindful of those they tap for expert counsel and oversight.
These four new Board members join the 15 continuing their service to the Community Foundation, their full bios are included on our website here.
The Community Foundation has a number of resources and best practices to help nonprofits be more effective through their board selection and overall operational and programmatic effectiveness, detailed here.