BLF 2017

Judith O’Connor Memorial Fund Scholarships

The Judith O’Connor Memorial Fund Scholarships enable emerging nonprofit leaders to advance their leadership skills, learn about progressive practices in nonprofit governance, and interact with nonprofit leaders from across the country at the BoardSource Leadership Forum.

Thanks to everyone who completed an application for the 2017 scholarship program; we will announce recipients in late July.
The scholarship opportunity for this year’s conference is closed. The next application period opens in Spring 2019. Contact Justin Wood if you have a question about the Judith O’Connor Memorial Fund Scholarship.

BLF Attendees

If you are a grantmaker interested in underwriting conference registrations for your grantees or other nonprofit leaders, please contact Meryl Hooker at 202-349-2523 to learn more about the opportunities we offer.

Does your supervisor need to approve your BLF attendance? Here’s a sample justification letter.

The Judith O’Connor Memorial Fund Scholarships for Emerging Nonprofit Leaders program was created in 2005 to honor the legacy of Judith O’Connor, the former president & CEO of BoardSource, and to educate emerging sector leaders about exceptional leadership and governance practices.

Since it was established, the fund has enabled approximately 15 to 20 nonprofit leaders to participate in the BoardSource Leadership Forum each time it has been presented. Scholarship recipients receive free conference registration and lodging at the conference hotel, as well as a one-year BoardSource membership.

Former scholars reflecting on their experience…

How to Catch a Unicorn: Diversify Your Nonprofit Board Like You Mean it

Jermaine Smith, 2015 Judith O’Connor Memorial Scholar

I am a millennial. I am a black man. I am a fundraiser. I am a board member (and soon board chair). These are some of the ways I describe myself. Yet, as my experience in the nonprofit sector has deepened, I have discovered that many board leaders describe me a different way: I am a unicorn.

Read the full post on the BoardSource blog

Look Out, Nonprofit Sector!
Here I Come!

Jana Murdock, 2014 Judith O’Connor Memorial Scholar

The recent BoardSource Leadership Forum was quite an experience! As a novice in the world of governance, I was amazed at the resources and support that are available to make nonprofit boards something worth having. I was excited to learn the basics of building a board, finding out…

Read the full post on the BoardSource blog


“I really enjoyed meeting and getting to know the other scholars, especially learning more about their organizations, their boards, and the challenges and successes in their organizations. The conference was inspiring, and I left feeling energized about my organization and its mission.
Sharlissa Moore, 2015 Judith O’Connor Scholar

The scholarships are awarded to leaders who best meet the following criteria:

  • Nonprofit board members with less than three years of experience serving on a nonprofit board OR nonprofit executives or staff members with less than three years of experience working with a nonprofit board
  • Demonstrate leadership ability and potential for their organization and the nonprofit community
  • Are affiliated with a nonprofit organization that has an annual budget less than $5 million
  • Will enrich the diversity of the sector. Diversity includes but is not limited to age, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and disability.
  • Would not otherwise be able to attend the BoardSource Leadership Forum (and have not attended previously)


Having worked closely with Judy, I witnessed firsthand her ability to encourage people, build relationships, and exemplify an unwavering belief in the power of nonprofits to strengthen society. Judy’s mentoring of new leaders in the sector is her legacy.
— Marianne Eby, June 2002, having recently taken over the role of CEO at BoardSource following Judith O’Connor