BLF Program

2017 Program

We are currently adding new sessions and speakers, and will be organizing the information by date and time in the coming weeks.


In 2017, an unprecedented number of nonprofit leaders, more than 270, responded to BoardSource’s Call for Sessions. The result: An exciting, best-of-the best line-up of sessions and speakers. We’re confident all participants will leave with valuable new knowledge, insights, ideas, solutions, and best practices to take home to their organizations and to inform the important work they do. It’s going to be the most content-rich two days you’ve experienced in a long time.

We invite you to start thinking about how you will spend your time in Seattle. All sessions are organized by topic and include descriptions and short speaker biographies.


Lean In: Take Your Seat at the Policy Table

Level 101

Are you advocating for your mission and making your voice heard in the policy arena? This interactive session will explore advocacy as an effective, workable strategy to accomplish your organization’s goals and mission. Unlike other trainings, we’ll explore advocacy from the governance, programming, and operations perspectives, so that you’ll leave with an understanding of the skills and systems needed to institutionalize this kind of work at your organization.  You’ll walk away with a working definition of advocacy for your particular nonprofit, resources to share with colleagues explaining what is legal, and a plan of action to engage your board members, volunteers, funders, and staff in your advocacy efforts.


Abby-LevineAbby Levine

Director of Bolder Advocacy, Alliance for Justice

Abby Levine serves as the director of the Alliance for Justice’s Bolder Advocacy program. As such, she provides training and technical assistance to advocates, would-be advocates, and grantmakers, focusing on how federal tax and election law allows lobbying, ballot measures, and election-related activity for tax-exempt organizations. She conducts more than 30 trainings each year.

Erin Skene-Pratt

Consultant; Director, PolicyWorks for Philanthropy

Erin Skene-Pratt is an independent consultant with 15 years of experience as a leader and catalyst for program design and implementation in the areas of advocacy, organizational development, and capacity-building efforts. Having assisted thousands of nonprofits to better serve their communities, she provides a strategic outlook on the nonprofit sector’s work and a proven track record of results.

As an independent consultant, Erin also serves as the director of PolicyWorks for Philanthropy, an initiative to increase the advocacy capacity of regional associations of grantmakers across the country. Previously, she served as senior director of public affairs at the Michigan Nonprofit Association. She holds a master’s degree in public administration from Western Michigan University and a BA degree from Michigan State University.

Leveraging the Power and Influence of Your Board through Advocacy

Level 201

Changing political norms require boards to engage in advocacy. Traditions and assumptions have been upended. Board members must adopt the education of elected officials about their organization as an essential responsibility. A laser focus on the mission will help board members put aside their individual political beliefs to become advocates for policies that advance the mission.

In this interactive panel discussion, three Volunteer of America leaders — a member of the national board, an executive vice president of external affairs, and the CEO of Volunteers of America Oregon — will share challenges, insights, and recommendations from their work engaging board members in advocacy, including a Capitol Hill day for affiliate CEOs and board members. They bring extensive experience executing legislative initiatives to protect and support nonprofits.

Participants will take away techniques and strategies for working with staff and measuring impact as well as resources designed to help you ignite the board’s sense of urgency to align public policy with governance, budgets, and strategic plans.


Jatrice-Martel-GaiterJatrice Martel Gaiter, JD

Executive Vice President, external affairs, Volunteers of America
Board Chair, National Human Services Assembly
Board Member, MetroStage Theatre

Jatrice Martel Gaiter is the executive vice presient of external affairs in the national office of Volunteers of America. She also is board chair of the National Human Services Assembly, a board member of the MetroStage Theater, and a member of Independent Sector’s public policy committee. She has worked as a chief executive of two nonprofits and as lead staff on public policy at three United Way organizations. A champion of the nonprofit sector, she blogs, writes opinion pieces, and Tweets as @Ms.Nonprofit.


Rubye-NobleRubye E. Noble, JD

Vice Board Chair, Volunteers of America

Rubye E. Noble, JD, currently serves as the vice chair of the Volunteer of America’s national board and the chair of its governance committee. Professionally, she is a senior assistant parish attorney and legislative liaison for Jefferson Parish in New Orleans. This position includes direct liaison and support for a 19-member House and Senate legislative delegation. Previously, she worked in project development and management and public policy for several nonprofits in local, state, and federal public and private environments.

Kay Toran

President & CEO, Volunteers of America Oregon

Kay Toran is president and CEO of Volunteers of America Oregon (VOA Oregon). As such, she provides the overall leadership and strategic direction for the organization. Kay joined VOA Oregon in July 1999 after serving six years as the director of the Oregon Department of Services to Children and Family. She has served in several key leadership positions in Oregon state government as well as assistant to the governor and director of Oregon’s affirmative action office under Governor Victor Atiyeh.

Your Mission, Your Voice: The Power of Board Advocacy

Level 201

All nonprofits are driven by a mission. One of the most useful assets to help you deliver on your mission is something that is very likely to be woefully underutilized — your board members’ voices. According to BoardSource’s 2015 Leading with Intent report, 41 percent of nonprofit executives identify ambassadorship as the area most in need of board improvement. Board members can serve as powerful champions for our missions, but often don’t.

During this lively, interactive session, leaders from two foundations that used their voices separately and together to drive bold change in Arkansas — the Walton Family Foundation and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation — will share their stories. As they do so, you’ll learn (1) why it is critical for nonprofits and foundations to use their voices and stand up for their missions and (2) how to do it.


Kathy Smith

Senior Program Officer, Walton Family Foundation

Kathy Smith has been with the Walton Family Foundation for 15 years. Her current responsibilities as senior program officer include education initiatives in Arkansas and Kansas City, Missouri, that promote systemic reform using the principles of accountability, transparency, choice, and incentives. Prior to joining the foundation, Kathy spent 21 years in public education in Oklahoma and Arkansas, first as a high school English teacher and eventually as a district secondary curriculum director. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Southwestern Oklahoma State University and a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Arkansas.

Sherece-West-ScantleburySherece West-Scantlebury

President & CEO, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation

Sherece West-Scantlebury, PhD, is president & CEO of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, a private, independent foundation with a mission to improve the lives of all Arkansans in three interrelated areas: development; education; and economic, racial, and social justice. Involved in philanthropy for 25 years, Sherece previously served as CEO of the Foundation for Louisiana and as a program associate at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Her professional career includes nearly 30 years of experience in community development, public policy and advocacy, and public service. In addition to managing the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, Sherece is active in a number of nonprofit and philanthropic organizations.

Board Building and Engagement

The Architecture of Action: How to Get Board Members to Do Things Differently

Level 101

We expect board members to do a lot — to advocate, fundraise, tell our story, read financials, and on and on. We need them to take action because our mission’s success depends on it. Yet, too often they fall short. We get frustrated; they leave or underperform.

“The Architecture of Action” challenges us to rethink how we move board members to action. Drawing on research in adult learning and behavioral economics, this interactive session expands on what we know about the connection between learning and action and how to set up and sustain action over time.  Traditional workshops focus on knowledge and skills in readying leaders for acting in a new way; our model addresses the importance of climate, tools, and feelings in inspiring action. We’ll present a framework being used by boards throughout the state of Washington that centers on mission, accountability, and reflection: “Boards in Gear,” Washington Nonprofits’s highly acclaimed, Washington Secretary of State-approved governance toolkit. Join us to learn how to bring an action mindset to your board and organization on at least one of your key strategic interests and improve your governance.


Nancy-BaconNancy Bacon

Director of Learning and Engagement, Washington Nonprofits

Nancy Bacon has been creating learning programs since 1996. Currently, she is director of learning and engagement for Washington Nonprofits, which is working to ensure that the 58,000 nonprofits in Washington have what they need to succeed. Nancy created the World Affairs Council’s award-winning “Global Classroom” program and has delivered fundraising trainings to Afro-Brazilian women in Salvador, Brazil. At Washington Nonprofits, she led the teams that created “Finance Unlocked for Nonprofits,” “Boards in Gear,” “Let’s Go Legal,” and “Strategic Planning in Nonprofits.” A former middle-school teacher, Nancy has degrees from Swarthmore College and the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy and Governance.

Laura Pierce

Executive Director, Washington Nonprofits

Laura Pierce became Washington Nonprofits’ executive director in May 2017 after serving as the organization’s interim executive director and having been a member and partner with Washington Nonprofits for many years. She has been the owner and principal consultant of Laura Pierce Consulting. Laura has worked in and with nonprofits since 1989 in the areas of fund development, community organizing, and executive management. Since 1998, she has consulted with a wide variety of nonprofit organizations, assisting with strategic planning, board development, organizational assessment, and capacity building.

Six Things You Can Do Right Now to Boost Your Board’s Performance

Level 101

“The nonprofit board model is broken.” You’ve likely heard this sentiment uttered by nonprofit board leaders and philanthropists alike. While unquestionably provocative, there appears to be some truth to it. BoardSources’ national governance index, Leading with Intent, finds that boards earn on average a B- in overall performance. In other words, most boards are mediocre at best. Many others are failing the organization and its mission completely. It shouldn’t be that way.

There are several high-impact strategies that nonprofit executives and board members can immediately deploy to boost the performance — and thus, overall impact — of their organization’s board. During this session, you’ll learn six interventions to optimize your board’s performance. They fall into three key categories:

  • Driving enhanced board member contribution.
  • Making better use of board meetings.
  • Strengthening your board’s culture of engagement.

Change often takes months of planning, socialization, buy-in, and execution. This session is designed for executives and board leaders who need their boards to improve faster. Utilizing a highly interactive learning style, this session will arm you with innovative ideas and specific action steps that will accelerate your board’s performance now.


Rob-ActonRob Acton

Principal and Founder, Cause Strategy Partners, LLC

Robert Acton is principal/founder of Cause Strategy Partners and BoardLead, a social enterprise providing strategic counsel and board placement to F500 companies, foundations, and nonprofits with a focus on board and executive leadership. Rob formerly served as executive director of Taproot Foundation (NYC) and Cabrini Green Legal Aid (Chicago). Under his leadership, Cabrini Green Legal Aid received Chicago’s prestigious Alford-Axelson Award for Nonprofit Managerial Excellence. Rob is board vice chair of NPCC, the membership organization representing and serving 1,700 New York nonprofits. He is a member of the Bar of the State of NY.

Ban the Bored Room: Fantastic Meeting Facilitation Skills

Level 101

Board members spend a good of their volunteer time in meetings — from board meetings to committee meetings to social gatherings. This is most often where vital discussions take place and critical decisions are made — but these meetings also can be a drag!  Strong facilitation skills can be the difference between providing your members with an engaging, fulfilling board experience or scrambling to find warm bodies to serve.

In this interactive session, you’ll learn new ways to keep your meetings focused and even enjoyable for your members. We’ll discuss facilitation roles, identify activities that will improve shared leadership in meetings, and explore methods to prioritize governance discussions and avoid reporting out. Take-aways include a sample agenda outline, rotating responsibilities matrix, and 14 facilitation tips.


Emily DavisEmily Davis

President, Emily Davis Consulting
BoardSource Senior Governance Consultant

Emily Davis is president of Emily Davis Consulting, author of Fundraising and the Next Generation, a 21/64 multigenerational family philanthropy consultant, and a BoardSource senior governance consultant. She serves nonprofits and philanthropists through planning, facilitation, and publications on governance, philanthropy, multigenerational issues, and nonprofit startup management.

Emily has served in board leadership roles for local, national, and international nonprofits. She also has served as a founder, grantmaker, staff member, and volunteer across a wide range of local and national organizations. Emily has a master’s degree in nonprofit management from Regis University, where she is an adjunct professor, and was named one of the 40 Under Forty in Boulder Valley (CO) in 2015.

Tapping into Your Board and Community’s Potential

Level 101

In this session, three board leaders from the Anacortes Family Center, a homeless shelter in the small community (15,000 residents) of Anacortes, WA, will present a strategic planning success story that can be replicated by others. They’ll explain how their board, staff, and community came together as a team to

  • develop a state-of-the-art program to help homeless families become self-sufficient
  • build two facilities totally paid for by community donations exceeding $3 million

Participants will learn ways to capitalize on the strengths and expertise of every board member; how to develop strategies for collaboration between your board, staff, and community to achieve a common goal; and the steps involved in conducting a successful capital campaign.


Dustin Johnson

Executive Director, Anacortes Family Center

Dustin Johnson is the executive director of the Anacortes Family Center (AFC). He has more than a decade of experience in nonprofit management, fundraising, program administration, capital campaigns, and strategic planning. Dustin joined AFC in 2013, taking the organization from operating losses for three consecutive years to profitability in six months. He also has expanded the program by doubling net assets, doubled the staff, successfully executed a $2 million capital campaign, and maintained an 80 percent client success rate.

Ann Hutchinson Meyers

Board Member, Anacortes Family Center

Ann Hutchinson Meyers, Ph.D., is a national consultant who works in the field of housing and social services for the homeless. She is former vice president of transformational services at Haven for Hope in San Antonio, TX, the nation’s largest homeless transformation campus. Her community and philanthropic service ranges from serving as the board chair of SAM Ministries, cofounder of the DeNovo Foundation, and board member of the San Antonio Children’s Center to volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. Ann serves on the AFC board and chaired the capital campaign that raised $1.5 million for the building of the center’s new transitional campus, which opened in April 2017.

Vicki-StaschVicki Stasch

Board Member, Anacortes Family Center

Vicki Stasch, M.S., has worked for more than 30 years as a management consultant and facilitator for nonprofits and for-profits throughout California and Washington on strategic planning, team building, executive leadership development, and board development. She has been adjunct faculty for the California School of Psychology (Alliant University) and the University of San Francisco. Since 1985, she has served on numerous nonprofit boards, including the Anacortes Family Center, Habitat for Humanity, Food Link and Family Services of Tulare County, Rotary, and Sequoia Kings Park Foundation. She was board chair of the Anacortes Family Center during its capital campaign and oversaw board development.

Better Governance in Three Stories

Level 201

Much has been written about building effective nonprofit boards, but where does one begin to make a good board better? This session will use engaging, timeless stories to illustrate three foundational governance practices that will make your board better:

  • Getting the right people on the board.
  • Minding the interpersonal dynamics among board members and between board and staff.
  • Achieving alignment around mission and values.

After each story, you will have the opportunity to apply that practice to your own organization and then compare your ideas with your peers. Jim Schwarz, session presenter, will also share his “imperfect” attempts to apply these lessons on his own nonprofit board. All participants will leave with memorable stories and tangible take-aways, such as an action planning worksheet, to take back to their boards for consideration.


Jim Schwarz

President, Compass Development & Governance Group, Inc.
BoardSource Senior Governance Consultant

Jim Schwarz works with nonprofits and associations to build high-performing boards through group effectiveness, meeting dynamics, board development, team building, and strategic thinking. He has worked with a variety of organizations, including Achieve, the Center for Excellence in Nonprofits, Commonfund, Ford Foundation, Heinz Foundation, International Code Council, Moody’s Foundation, SCAN Health Plan, and Wikimedia. Jim is also a regular and popular speaker at the BoardSource Leadership Forum.

Jim has been an active board volunteer at several nonprofits, including the Stamford (CT) chapter of the American Red Cross and SoundWaters Environmental Education Center. He is currently board chair of the St. Johns Riverkeeper in Jacksonville, FL.

Ignite Your Brain: Create Powerful Conversations with Impact

Level 201

We know that substantive discussion leads to better decision making, but do we know how to establish a board culture that empowers debate and creative problem solving? How to craft questions for maximum impact and discussion?  In this session, you’ll discover (1) the three levels of conversation and how each affects collaboration, (2) the role the brain plays in building a foundation of trust, and (3) why the phrasing of a question truly matters. You’ll also have the opportunity to put your learning into action by experimenting with the power of “and” during an improvisational activity. Geared to anyone wanting to engage in more powerful and impactful conversations. Come ready to explore and experiment in a fun and supportive environment.


Sharon D. Anderson

President & CEO, Anderson & Associates, LLC
BoardSource Certified Governance Trainer

Sharon Anderson is president & CEO of Anderson & Associates, a firm offering personalized governance and management assistance to nonprofits interested in achieving improved operations. With experience in government, nonprofits, and associations, Sharon focuses on advocacy, capacity building, leadership development, and policy development. Committed to building strong organizations and teams that make a difference, Sharon is a BoardSource Certified Governance Trainer and a licensed consultant of the Standards for Excellence program.

Stacey-BryanStacey Bryan

Owner, Bryan & Associates
BoardSource Certified Governance Trainer

Stacey Bryan describes herself as an instigator of confidence, curiosity, and change. She is the owner of Bryan & Associates, an independent firm specializing in coaching, consulting, meeting facilitation, and speaking with a focus on leadership development. Stacey has more than 20 years of experience in public relations, communications, association management, and the legislative/governmental arenas. She has earned the professional certifications of Certified Association Executive (CAE) through ASAE, Associated Certified Coach (ACC) through the International Coach Federation, and Certified Governance Trainer (CGT) through BoardSource.

Board Meetings That Leave Them Begging for More

Level 301

Do your board meetings make your members laugh and cry and stay late to carry on rich conversations? Do your board members feel deeply connected to one another? Do they leave meetings on fire about sharing your mission and impact with others? Do they ask to help with fundraising? I didn’t think so.

In this highly interactive session, we’ll explore how to strategize board meetings that bring out all the wisdom and passion that your board members long to share — but don’t. You’ll discover how to elicit more authentic governance, more effective ambassadorship, and more powerful fundraising from the leaders you’ve already got. And you’ll leave with concrete, practical steps for implementing these simple tactics in your own boardroom.


Susan-HowlettSusan Howlett

Consultant and Author

Susan Howlett has been strengthening nonprofit boards for more than 40 years as a board member, a development director, an executive director, and — for the past 25 years — as a consultant to thousands of nonprofits across the continent. Author of two acclaimed books — Getting Funded and Boards on Fire — Susan has been a core faculty member of the University of Washington’s year-long fundraising program and a leader and mentor in professional associations throughout the Northwest for several decades. She speaks, trains, and consults nationally and is known for her humor, stories, audience engagement, and love of chocolate.

Creating a Culture of Leadership in Your Community

Level 301

Research shows that communities are more economically viable when business and civic leaders have opportunities to form relationships. Nonprofit boardrooms provide these opportunities.

In this session, we’ll discuss how we can build stronger communities and create more opportunity for board service when we collaborate to develop a culture of community leadership. We’ll learn how to expand our thinking of leadership and develop a robust eco-system focused on nonprofit board service. When we come together to address board capacity as a community, rather than as individual organizations, we can build healthier communities and a healthier nonprofit sector while elevating the strength of our own organizations.

Join us to learn the process and take away valuable tools that will help you get started on creating a culture of leadership in your community.


Matthew-DowneyMatthew Downey

Program Director, Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy, Grand Valley State University

Matthew Downey has worked in the nonprofit sector for nearly 20 years. He serves as the nonprofit services program director for the Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University, where he oversees technical assistance and capacity-building services for nonprofit organizations. Matthew has worked as a development officer with a wide variety of nonprofit organizations, including the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, the Queens Borough Public Library, and the United Negro College Fund. He holds a bachelor’s degree in nonprofit arts management from Butler University and a master’s degree in public and nonprofit administration from Grand Valley State University.

Tamela A. Spicer

Program Manager, Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy, Grand Valley State University

Tamela Spicer is a program manager in nonprofit services at the Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. Her nearly 20 years of experience in the sector includes executive roles with The Salvation Army and the Arthritis Foundation. Tamela serves as board chair of Thrive: A Refugee Support Program. She holds a BSBA and a BA in religious education and theology from Aquinas College and a master of arts degree in communications from Spring Arbor University. Tamela is also adjunct faculty in the School of Public, Nonprofit, and Health Administration at Grand Valley State University.

Compliance/Risk Management

Finding the Elusive CPI + 5% Investment Return Goal

Level 101

Bigfoot. The Loch Ness Monster. El Chupacabra. CPI + 5%.

Are each of these mythical? Yes! The focus of a fanatical group of believers who devote their time to proving its existence? Yes! Impossible to find? All but one!

We may not be able to prove the existence of the mythical creatures on the list above but it is possible to find the CPI (consumer price index)-plus-five-percent investment return goal.

Are you one of the many nonprofits striving to meet a seven- to eight-percent total return in the current low-return environment? If so, you’re probably finding that your traditional investment portfolio and investment management approach is just not cutting it. In this interactive session, we’ll discuss the fundamental building blocks required to meet the elusive CPI + 5%, portfolio management strategies that will help ensure that short-term volatility doesn’t derail your long-term goals, and investment management policies that will help ensure that your team has the flexibility to pursue this “mythical” goal.


Martin-JaugietisMartin Jaugietis, CFA

Managing Director and Client Portfolio Manager, Investment Division, Russell Investments

Martin Jaugietis, CFA, is a managing director and client portfolio manager for Russell Investments, in the multi-asset team within the investment division. He works directly with some of the firm’s largest and most sophisticated clients to develop custom total portfolio solutions, represents the firm externally in the marketplace, and is a lead contributor to the further development and refinement of Russell’s multi-asset capabilities, working alongside research analysts, portfolio managers, and strategists across all asset classes. Martin has almost 20 years of experience as an advisor, business leader, and investor and a skill set that covers a wide range of asset management functions. He led the team that created the Barclays-Russell LDI Index Series and was named one of the “World’s 25 Most Influential Investment Consultants” by aiCIO magazine in 2012.

Lisa-SchneiderLisa Schneider, CFA

Managing Director and Head of Nonprofit and Healthcare Systems, Russell Investments

Lisa Schneider is the managing director of Russell Investments’ nonprofit and healthcare systems business. In this capacity, she is responsible for leading the organization’s efforts in developing and delivering strategic advice and investment management solutions for nonprofit and healthcare clients and prospects. Lisa has a long history with Russell Investments in a number of analytical and client service roles, having joined the firm in 1988.

Maintaining Vision Momentum Under the Dark Clouds of Accusation and Investigation

Level 201

You know achieving your organization’s mission and vision requires everyone’s energy and focus to be aligned. When board and staff are synchronized with partners, clients, and other stakeholders, the results can be amazing. However, perfect cohesion is never permanent. Internal and external parties can disrupt progress with an allegation of misconduct at any moment.

San Diego Youth Symphony & Conservatory (SDYS), the 2012 grand prize winner of the Prudential Leadership Award for Exceptional Nonprofit Boards, presented by BoardSource, has direct experience with responsibly investigating allegations against its chief executive officer while maintaining progress toward its vision. Join us to learn how the SDYS board chair, board of directors, and president & CEO have simultaneously  advanced SDYS’s vision to great success — including restoration of arts education to an entire school district of 30,000 children — and managed complex investigations. Instead of being hampered by these situations, SDYS has used them to strengthen its policies, culture, and communications. Learn how to be well prepared for the moment when an unexpected accusation requires your board’s attention and action. Take-aways include annual checklists and tactics.


Dalouge-SmithDalouge Smith

President & CEO, San Diego Youth Symphony & Conservatory

Dalouge Smith is in his 13th season as president & CEO of the San Diego Youth Symphony & Conservatory. He collaborated with the board to develop SDYS’s vision to “make music education accessible and affordable for all.” SDYS is nationally recognized for success restoring and strengthening music education in schools. Dalouge speaks frequently at conferences, public events, government hearings, and to the media about the benefits of music education. During his tenure as president & CEO, SDYS has gained national recognition for its strong governance practices, winning the 2012 grand prize of the Prudential Leadership Awards for Exceptional Nonprofit Boards at the 2012 BoardSource Leadership Forum.

Ernest Smith

Board Chair, San Diego Youth Symphony & Conservatory

Ernest Smith was an educator and principal in the San Diego City Schools District for 35 years. He was also an education leadership and teacher trainer at the University of San Diego (USD). Ernest is now board chair of the San Diego Youth Symphony & Conservatory, after tenures as vice chair of governance and vice chair of programs. Other community leadership roles have included serving on the board of the Preuss School at the University of California San Diego and on the advisory committee for the San Diego Foundation.  He presents regularly at USD’s annual governance symposium.

Organizational Risk — A Board Priority

Level 201

Effective risk prevention and management of an organization seeks to protect (1) those it serves, (2) its human, physical, and financial resources, and (3) its reputation and organizational stature. Strategically implementing a risk management program is essential to minimizing or eliminating events that contribute to losses. Because the board is ultimately responsible for the organization’s vitality, it must insist upon and support a comprehensive and systematic approach to risk management that is tied to mission and focused on quality.

This interactive session will highlight strategies and techniques to identify, manage, and report on areas of risk, such as human resources, finance, and technology, as well as critical incident reporting. The Council on Accreditation’s risk prevention management standards provide comprehensive guidance on how to implement an effective and collaborative system. It uses a number of tools to vet potential risks and to review past incidents to create action plans for reducing risk. Participants will take away tools that can be used at your own organization for incident management, specialized communication, and generation of training topics for staff and committee processes that enhance transparency and teamwork to protect your mission, clients, employees, and volunteers.


David-HaynikDavid Haynik

Director of Quality Improvement, Council on Accreditation

David Haynik is the director of quality improvement at the Council on Accreditation (COA) in New York City, where he guides internal quality improvement initiatives, provides training to social service organizations, and maintains the volunteer force. Prior to joining COA in July 2015, David worked at a behavioral health organization in New Orleans for ten years. He received a master’s degree in social work from Cleveland State University and is a licensed clinical social worker in the state of Louisiana, and a licensed master social worker in New York.

Saving San Diego Opera: Lessons Learned from a Near Demise

Level 201

On March 19, 2014, San Diego Opera’s board voted at a hastily called board meeting to cease operations following the last performance of the season a month later. Sixty days later — following a drama worthy of an opera itself that included intense media coverage across the country and an outpouring of community support — a much leaner board voted to rescind its decision and move forward with a modified 2015 season with a significantly downsized budget and staff. Inherent in that decision was a mandate that “business as usual” was no longer acceptable and that great change was necessary to make the San Diego Opera a forward-thinking, community-focused, sustainable organization worthy of San Diego’s continued support.

What lessons did San Diego Opera from its near demise three years ago? What steps has the board taken to become a highly effective board that works closely with staff to fulfill the organization’s promise to its community? What challenges remain? In this session, two San Diego Opera board leaders will share their lessons learned — lessons that are relevant for any nonprofit that is striving for more effective governance. We’ll discuss red flags, board composition, and how to implement change.


David Bennett

General Director, San Diego Opera

David Bennett assumed leadership of the San Diego Opera in 2015 after a nationwide search for a new leader with artistic, executive leadership, and community engagement skills. Previously, he was the executive director of Gotham Chamber Opera in New York City, which is known for innovative programming and creative collaborations, and a senior consultant with Arts Resources International, which provides advisory services to a wide range of nonprofit arts organizations. David earned MBA and MA degrees in arts administration from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX, and serves on the board of OPERA America.

Linda-SpuckLinda Spuck

Board Member, San Diego Opera

Linda Spuck serves on the San Diego Opera board. Professionally, she is vice president and senior trust officer at Union Bank and works with multiple nonprofits to help them effectively manage their endowments and planned giving funds. As a “recovering fundraiser,” she loves working with charitably minded individuals and families to help them establish and fulfill their philanthropic goals. Linda is a frequent speaker at conferences and meetings, has been a member of the San Diego Opera board since 2012, and is especially proud to have chaired the search committee that brought David Bennett to San Diego. She also serves on the board of San Diego Grantmakers.

What Every Board Member Needs to Know about Overhead

Level 201

We all want to solve society’s most pressing problems. To do this, we need to build strong nonprofits that can deliver outcomes that matter. Tragically, we now know that 40 percent of even those most well-known and best-funded nonprofits are in financial distress with frequent budget deficits and inadequate reserves. One main cause is chronic underfunding of indirect costs. Something is deeply wrong with a system that so consistently undervalues investments in organizational strength and financial health. We believe there is a better way — one that supports strong programs and strong organizations.

How can board members contribute to the solution? What are the questions every board member should be asking? During this session, you will learn about the latest research on indirect costs in the nonprofit sector, come to understand how high-performing organizations are solving this problem and building organizational strength, and hear how board members can play a critical role in advancing the conversation.


Brian Burwell

The Bridgespan Group

Brian Burwell is a partner in the San Francisco office of The Bridgespan Group. He joined Bridgespan in 2016 to continue following his passion and commitment to make a difference on social issues. His focus is in the philanthropy practice, where he brings his particular experience in education and healthcare to breaking cycles of poverty. Prior to joining Bridgespan, Brian spent more than 35 years as a partner at Marakon, where he also served as CEO. As a management consultant, he has worked with some of the world’s leading corporations and nonprofit organizations on strategy, execution, organization, and leadership. Brian is deeply involved with sports, charitable, and educational organizations. He is on the board of a San Francisco based software company, on the dean’s advisory council at the University of California, Davis, and continues to serve as a senior advisor for Marakon. He received a BA degree in economics from the University of California at Davis and an MBA from Stanford University.

Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity

Social Justice and Equity: Getting on Board

Level 201

In these politically and socially polarizing times, nonprofit leaders have the obligation and the opportunity to help close the disparities gap and correct social injustices. Too often, however, gaps exist within our own organizations between our “talk” about social justice and equity — as seen, for example, in well-crafted mission statements — and the “walk” of external programming and internal operations, especially human resources. This needs to change, and it starts with the board. All board leaders have a role in animating the “talk” about social justice into action. Eradication of injustice requires moving beyond once-a-year cultural competency and Diversity 101 trainings. In this dialogue-based session, we’ll discuss the newest thinking on social justice in the nonprofit sector and practical strategies for understanding the role of nonprofits, regardless of their mission, in courageously and safely pivoting toward meaningful contributions to social justice and equity in America.


Jacqueline Coleman

Principal, Vision Que! LLC

Jacqueline Coleman is founder and principal of Vision Que! LLC, a boutique consulting company. Drawing upon her extensive experience as a senior program manager and administrator, with a focus in workforce development, Jacqueline uniquely integrates theory, public health, and policy to facilitate community mobilization and policy/systems change initiatives. She has 20-plus years of experience assisting domestic and global public health agencies, private entities, and governmental and non-governmental leaders in maximizing their impacts. She has provided strategic consultation on gender-tailored programs, health equity initiatives, racial health disparities, policy development and advocacy, and organizational change management. Jacqueline is academically trained in communications, counseling and psychology, and business management.

Sandra Houston

Principal, Pivot Principles LLC

Sandra Houston is principal and founder of Pivot Principles LLC, an organizational development and coaching firm in NJ. A community health professional, she has more than 20 years of experience in project management, formative research, program planning, training, and technical assistance to public and private sector organizations. She has served as a coach and capacity-building specialist to numerous governmental agencies and community and faith-based organizations. Sandra specializes in identifying and resolving barriers that prevent organizations from reaching their full potential and in developing linkages between public and private organizations to address changing and newly emerging community needs.

Engineering Equity into Your Organization

Level 301

Nonprofit leaders are paying increased attention to what it means to have an equity mindset, to approach their work through an equity lens, and to make equity an imperative. This is occurring as the world around us becomes even more hyper-focused on the failed actualization of e pluribus unum. Driven to make noble decisions, we often find that it is easier to wrestle with the immediate issues at hand than tackle the deeper, systemic challenges that exist even within our organizations. The interdependent relationships between strategy, operations, and culture are complex, and there is no playbook that spells out how to infuse fairness into every critical decision and deed.

In comes the Equity Maturity Model (EqMM), a strikingly simple tool that enables organizational leaders to institutionalize their commitment to the assurance of equity. The model identifies 12 measurable dimensions of performance and behavior that constitute equity maturity, groups these dimensions into six focus areas, and describes five performance levels for each dimension.

In this session, we’ll explore the EqMM model, diagnose current nonprofit performance and behaviors that constitute equity maturity, identify gaps between reality and aspiration for comprehensive equity assurance, and clarify opportunities for growth. You’ll leave with the realization that an equity orientation can be systematically built and engineered to last within your organization.


Daria-TorresDaria Torres

Managing Partner, Walls Torres Group

Daria Torres is a sough-after strategic advisor, executive facilitator, and university lecturer with a breadth and depth of knowledge that spans sectors and industries and enables intersectional thinking and organizational insight. She founded Walls Torres Group in 2004 after serving as an engagement manager for McKinsey & Company. She began her career as a systems engineer for Lockheed Martin. The rigor and disciplined analytical approach in this role informs her work today. Daria earned a BS degree in systems engineering at the University of Virginia and a MSE/MBA degree at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.


Leading for Purpose & Impact: Maximizing Board Diversity & Inclusion

Level 301

Organizations within the nonprofit sector have long recognized, and continue to wrestle with, the significant implications of the current diversity gap, which threatens to undermine the relevance, legitimacy, and ability of nonprofits to fulfill their missions.

This session will examine how to maximize diversity and inclusion in nonprofit boards of directors. It will draw on empirical studies on diversity within the sector and nonprofit governance as well as on leadership literature focused on the relationship between board diversity and performance outcomes and how intervening processes, practices, or contextual characteristics might shape these relationships. The session will offer insight into the mechanisms by which diversity is most impactful and provide practical guidance for achieving the benefits of diversity, based on the idea that increasing visible minority representation in nonprofit leadership positions is a critical first step, but depends on evolving into an inclusive organization that values leading and governing in partnership.

Achieving diversity is more complex than just numbers. Attendees will leave with an understanding of the significant differences between board diversity and inclusion, an understanding of the impact board diversity and inclusion have on board performance, and techniques that may be used to maximize board diversity and inclusion behaviors.


Ruth-BernsteinRuth Bernstein

Assistant Professor in Nonprofit Studies, University of Washington Tacoma

Ruth Bernstein, PhD, is an assistant professor in nonprofit studies at the University of Washington Tacoma. She earned her doctorate of management degree from Case Western Reserve University. Ruth is a regular presenter at ARNOVA (Association for Research in Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action). Her publication and research interests focus on (1) diversity, intercultural interactions, and inclusion within multicultural communities, including nonprofit boards, voluntary organizations, and universities, and (2) nonprofit governance. For the past two years, Ruth has served as a member of the governance section for ARNOVA. She is active with many Tacoma-area nonprofits.

Resource Development

The Board’s Role in Human Resource Management

Level 201

How involved should your board should be in human resource matters? Striking the right balance requires careful thought and consideration. With the right partnership between your board and your staff, your organization will be strengthened and better able drive your mission forward by maximizing your most important asset — your people.

In this interactive session, you’ll gain insights on

  • the difference between governance and management as it relates to human resources
  • the role and importance of talent to mission and why your board needs to pay attention to human resources
  • the key components of a talent management program and where boards should focus their efforts
  • strategies to develop and delineate board roles related to human resources and talent management


Lisa-Brown-AlexanderLisa Brown Alexander

President & CEO, Nonprofit HR

Lisa Brown Alexander is president & CEO of Nonprofit HR. With more than 25 years of HR experience with both for- and nonprofits, Lisa is passionate about the importance of meaningful investments in people and organizational culture. She also has 15-plus years of experience serving on nonprofit boards, currently serving on the advisory council for Fund the People and on the board of the Prince Georges Cultural Arts Foundation and Community Youth Advance in Maryland.

Sidney Abrams

Managing Director of Consulting Services, Nonprofit HR

Sidney Abrams is the managing director of Nonprofit HR’s consulting services. He has more than 23 years of HR experience, 17 in associations and nonprofits. Sidney specializes in compliance and audit and is passionate about enabling HR teams to support nonprofit missions.

Powering Up Your Board to Achieve Impact and Revenue Growth

Level 201

Boards should be every organization’s key leadership asset. Imagine if your board was fully engaged in your work as a true partner with your chief executive and staff to drive revenue growth. What would it take to power up your board to maximize its full potential?

In this session, you’ll learn from United Way about how it recruits, develops, and engages its board members to set and achieve ever-greater revenue and impact goals. You’ll then take a look at your own organization’s priority goals and the board’s role before mapping out strategies to build better understanding of who serves on your board, how they are currently engaged, and how they can be better engaged individually and as a full board. Each activity and tool builds on the last. When you leave the session, you’ll have not only new ways to recruit, develop, and engage your board but also be started on the journey toward building a partnership with a board that is truly assisting in achieving your organization’s impact and revenue goals.


Alex-FikeAlex Fike

Manager, board development and engagement, United Way Worldwide

Alex Fike loves tackling the most complex issues to fix some of the world’s trickiest problems. Today, as the manager of board development at United Way Worldwide, he helps all United Ways partner with their key leadership to achieve greater impact and revenue growth. Motivated by the power of collective action, Alex has spent stints as the business manager to the CEO of one of the largest United Ways, a legislative director, a case worker, and a policy architect. He own board service includes leadership across multiple sectors, including nonprofit, governmental, and political realms.

Charting a Path to 100% Participation in Fund Development

Level 201

Board members struggle with a fund development dilemma: They have ultimate responsibility for ensuring their organizations are adequately resourced but they typically have little experience or interest in fundraising, and thus are reluctant to get involved in fundraising activities.

So what are the best ways to engage even the most cautious members? In this interactive session, we’ll present a state-of-the-art approach to overcoming this challenge. You’ll learn how to apply it to your board and to ensure that no board members are left out. We’ll go beyond the issue of personal contributions to the highly varied roles that board members can play in providing counsel, support, and strategy. We’ll introduce you to an engagement model found to best empower board members and share our “Continuum of Fundraising Engagement” tool that helps determine the right path for individual board members. One-hundred percent engagement should be your goal. Join us to learn of a system than any organization can use to create the plans and set up the structure and support systems needed to get you there.


Jennifer-DunlapJennifer Dunlap

CEO, Development Resources, Inc.

Jennifer Dunlap is the co-founder and CEO of Development Resources, Inc. (DRi), an executive search and development consulting firm that helps nonprofits grow, thrive, and excel. Over the past 16 years, she has led DRi to develop strategic plans and high-impact fundraising initiatives that have driven service expansions at start-up and established nonprofits, including social service providers (Martha’s Table), academic institutions (Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology), and cultural landmarks (Phillips Collection).  Previously, Jennifer served as a senior vice president at the American Red Cross, a vice president at CARE USA, and a senior leader at the United Way and Easter Seals.

Amy Farrier

Managing Director, West Coast, Development Resources, Inc.

Amy Farrier is the managing director of DRi’s West Coast office. She provides executive search and development consulting to nonprofits in Washington, Oregon, California, and Nevada. Prior to joining DRi, Amy spent 12 years as the deputy chief development officer of the United States Holocaust Museum, where she oversaw a $40 million annual campaign, managed five regional fundraising offices, and was an integral member of the senior leadership team. Earlier, she served as a consultant and campaign director for Community Counseling Service (CSS) and as an associate vice president at Notre Dame University of Maryland.

The Grateful Dead: Why Planned Giving Rocks

Level 201

The imminent retirement of 77 million Baby Boomers could change philanthropic giving as we know it today. Will Baby Boomers pull back from annual giving as their cash stops flowing? Will your organization make up this shortfall with bequest income? Do your board members understand the importance of their role in developing and implementing planned giving strategies? Join this insightful discussion about the importance of the “Grateful Dead” and how every board member can help your nonprofit craft a dynamic planned giving program.


Chuck Loring

Senior Partner, Loring, Sternberg, & Associates
BoardSource Senior Governance Consultant

Chuck V. Loring, MBA, CFRE, is the senior partner of the Fort Lauderdale and Indianapolis-based firm of Loring, Sternberg, & Associates, which provides fundraising and governance consulting services to nonprofits. Chuck is also a senior governance consultant for BoardSource, offering expertise in board development and other governance issues to nonprofit boards across the country.

Chuck is a past president of the Indiana chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, is a Certified Fund Raising Executive, and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and an MBA from the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. He is a former president of the University of California Alumni Association and a former trustee of the UCSB Foundation.

Chuck has helped hundreds of local and regional nonprofits across the country improve their governance, including such prominent charities as Special Olympics, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Girl Scouts USA, Make-A-Wish America, Easter Seals, Planned Parenthood, Feeding America, and The Smithsonian National Museum of The American Indian.

Every year, Chuck conducts dozens of training programs for funders, community foundations, and nonprofit centers interested in good governance. His repeat clients include The Hartford Community Foundation for Public Giving, The Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice, The Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida, The Waco Community Foundation, The Community Foundation of Broward County, The Philanthropy Center at Rollins College, and the New Hampshire Center for Nonprofits to name only a few.

What to Ask of Your Corporate Board Member

Level 201

Do you have board members who work in the for-profit world? Or would you like to find some? They are eager to make an impact, so your partnership with them needs to be strong. In this panel presentation, we’ll discuss where you should look for corporate board members, who is being recruited, what questions you should ask, and how to ensure that your mission resonates with companies and your community. You’ll walk away with tips and stories from three corporate managers of board service programs plus those belonging to the moderator, Mark Shamley of the Association of Corporate Contributions Professionals.


Mark Shamley

Member, BoardSource Board of Directors
President & CEO, Association of Corporate Contributions Professionals

Mark Shamley was named president & CEO of the Association of Corporate Contributions Professionals (ACCP) in August 2007 and has more than 20 years of experience in corporate and public affairs, corporate social responsibility, business development, and marketing. Prior to joining ACCP, Mark oversaw community relations and government affairs functions for the Orlando Magic, including management of the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation. He also served as director of global corporate citizenship at Tupperware Brands Corporation and vice president and executive director of the Tupperware Children’s Foundation. At Tupperware, Mark developed and successfully implemented the company’s global charitable recognition program and volunteer programs.

Mark holds an undergraduate degree in marketing from Marist College and a MBA degree in international business from the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College. He is an active member of his community and involved in several volunteer and leadership activities, including board positions with BoardSource, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida.



Strategy, Innovation, and Leadership

The Power of Aligning Your Board’s Legacy around Mission

Level 201

Everyone agrees that a critical function of the board is to set direction and support the mission. But, when pressed, many boards do not understand their role in actually driving the mission and ensuring mission impact. Three of the sector’s most experienced and respected governance consultants will showcase the power of aligning your board’s collective understanding of its legacy around advancing your organization’s mission.

Through the use of short case studies and round-table discussions, you’ll sharpen your understanding of the areas most critical to the board’s ability to advance the mission.

We’ll discuss

  • the distinction between your organization’s mission/purpose and your board’s role in strategically advancing it — board legacy
  • the difference between technical problems and adaptive challenges and why this matters
  • metrics and measures of success

We’ll explore board blind spots, examine common governance traps and pitfalls, and offer practical strategies for overcoming them.


Marla BobowickMarla Bobowick

Principal, Bobowick Consulting
BoardSource Senior Governance Consultant

Marla Bobowick is principal of Bobowick Consulting and senior governance consultant for BoardSource. She is an experienced nonprofit professional with a history of creative problem solving related to board governance, strategy, research, and publishing. Prior to founding Bobowick Consulting, Marla was vice president of products at BoardSource, where she was also an active consultant, developed educational curriculum, managed regional capacity-building projects, oversaw the global program, and coordinated the annual conference. Marla holds a BA in English from Amherst College, and an MBA and certificate in nonprofit management from Case Western Reserve University. She is vice chair of the board of Maryland Nonprofits.

Susan MeierSusan Meier

Principal, Meier and Associates
BoardSource Senior Governance Consultant

Susan Meier is principal of Meier and Associates and a senior governance consultant for BoardSource. From 2004 to 2011, she served as vice president of consulting and training for BoardSource. Susan brings more than 28 years of governance and nonprofit experience to her consulting, working collaboratively with nonprofit executives and board members to identify governance challenges and opportunities and to implement proven strategies to address a broad array of governance issues. She engages boards in a deeper understanding of their roles and responsibilities, strategic and generative thinking, concrete ways to maximize board meetings, and addressing culture and dynamics in the boardroom.

Cathy TrowerCathy Trower

Principal, Trower & Trower, Inc.
Vice Chair, BoardSource Board of Directors

Cathy Trower is principal of Trower & Trower, Inc., through which she provides a full range of board governance consulting services to nonprofit organizations. She is author of The Practitioner’s Guide to Governance as Leadership: Building High-Performing Nonprofit Boards (Jossey Bass, 2013), Govern More, Manage Less (BoardSource, 2010), and “Flipping the Boardroom for Trustee Engagement: Why and How” (AGB – Trusteeship, March/April, 2015). Cathy has a PhD in higher education administration from the University of Maryland, College Park, and an MBA and BBA from the University of Iowa. She serves on the boards of BoardSource, RiverWoods Retirement Community, and Wheaton College.

Disruptive Innovators: Reinventing the Leading Edge

Level 201

The disruptive environment in which nonprofits are operating today requires board leaders to lead in an emerging reality. In this interactive session, we’ll test your assumptions around board member recruitment and selection. Are your current practices advancing your board’s ability to lead in a VUCA world marked by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity? As you toggle between performing in the present to imagining forward for an unseen, improbable, and non-conforming future, you may find that the traditional norms for valuable board members are no longer valid and may be inhibiting effective leadership.

Join us to learn what it takes to recognize high potential for leading in a disrupted present and future. We’ll discuss the traits of disruptive innovators, address the leadership behaviors that surpass existing models, and surface the motivations and reasoning that promote or inhibit transformation. We’ll explore ways to seek, promote, and foster competencies that current and emerging board leaders can tap to facilitate more agile and continuously innovating cultures for their organizations.


Loretta DonovanLoretta Donovan

President, iAttain

Loretta Donovan, president of iAttain, is an executive coach and nonprofit consultant with expertise in leadership excellence. She has advised complex health care, technology, and educational organizations in strategy, change management, and talent development. Previously, Loretta served as the chief learning officer for Health Quest Systems, St. Francis Hospital-The Heart Center, Girl Scouts of the USA, and the March of Dimes. As an adjunct at Columbia University, Teachers College, Loretta introduced courses on generative change to the curriculum. She has been published in the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations, Proceedings of the Academy of Management, and Social Knowledge: Using Social Media to Know What You Know.

The Language of Leadership: How to Use Language to Lead, Engage, and Advocate

Level 201

Adults use approximately 15,000 words per day. How effectively are you and your board leaders using those words to lead staff, engage donors and volunteers, and advocate for the causes you care about? In today’s always-on-overdrive culture, we move so quickly that we rarely make the most of our words — an extremely valuable and inexhaustible resource.

In this fast-paced and interactive session, we will look at research that reveals the biggest mistakes nonprofits make when it comes to language, and how leaders can fix these mistakes in their organizations. We will dive into how leaders can use language to encourage diversity, equity, and inclusion and tackle the challenges unique to executive–board communications. You’ll learn how to identify your language style and how it relates to your leadership style, how to calibrate your language for different audiences and contexts, and how to improve your communications through simple yet effective techniques that will notably improve your ability to lead, engage, and advocate.


Erica MillsErica Mills

Director, Nancy Bell Evans Center on Nonprofits & Philanthropy, University of Washington

Erica Mills directs the Nancy Bell Evans Center on Nonprofits & Philanthropy at the University of Washington, where she also teaches graduate courses in marketing and fund development. Her research and word focuses on the interplay between language and impact and has been featured in Stanford Social Innovation Review and the Chronicle of Philanthropy. She is the creator of Wordifier, a free online tool that helps nonprofits amplify their words, and author of “Pitchfalls: Why Bad Pitches Happen to Good People”. She also founded Claxon, a company that teaches nonprofits how to create remarkable messaging.

Take the Lead: Become the Community Influencer You Want Your Organization to Be

Level 201

Many small nonprofits have not maximized their potential in the communities they serve. Join us to learn how! In this session, we’ll discuss the lessons learned by an organization in pursuit of $50 million to build a new world-class facility in its community. We’ll focus on how to

  • form and cultivate strategic partnerships
  • become a valued member of your community to maximize your influence
  • create and disseminate your messaging into the community to engage and form allies
  • maximize short-term volunteer positions to further long-tailed organizational goals requiring big sustained fundraising efforts
  • shift your board’s focus from a singular to a global view and how that can drive larger organizational initiatives


John-BitterJohn Bitter

CEO, Santa Clara Swim Club

John Bitter has been affiliated with the Santa Clara Swim Club for 11 years, eight of them as CEO and head coach. As CEO of one of the country’s leading youth sports organizations (it has produced more than 80 U.S. Olympians), he has gained extensive experience in organizational leadership, volunteer/staff maximization, and fundraising. In addition to serving the Santa Clara Swim Club, John serves on the boards of USA Swimming, Pacific Swimming, and the Silicon Valley Aquatics Initiative, which is committed to creating a world-class destination of aquatics excellence and becoming the swim capital of the world.

Seattle Stories of Transformative Change: How Local Board Leaders are Driving Innovation

Level 201

While many nonprofits envision transformative change, few are able to execute their plans effectively.  How can we successfully translate our bright ideas into concrete innovation? Join us to learn how the governing boards and executives of Farestart and Seattle Humane — two prominent Seattle nonprofits — applied generative practices that led them to transformative change and sustainable rapid growth.

FareStart is a social enterprise pioneer in reducing hunger, poverty, and homelessness. Through a unique partnership with Amazon, it is doubling its size, opening new eateries, and launching an apprenticeship program for low-income food service workers. Seattle Humane has evolved from a small organization led by volunteer animal lovers to a leading regional player advocating for companion animals and placing 7,000 pets annually.  By partnering with the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Seattle Humane’s new facility allows it to launch programs with lasting impact.

In this panel discussion, the CEO and chair emerita of Farestart and the CEO of Seattle Humane will discuss their organizations’ decision-making processes, sharing how they achieved extraordinary results, are staying on the leading edge of innovation,  and what other nonprofits can learn from their successes.


Aggie-SweeneyAggie Sweeney

Senior Counsel, Campbell & Company

Aggie Sweeney is senior counsel of Campbell & Company. Since joining the firm 17 years ago, she has consulted with more than 100 nonprofits and is respected for her expertise on capital campaigns. She helps her clients achieve their visions and increase philanthropy to fuel their growth. Prior to consulting, Aggie was an executive for two nonprofits. She has served on several nonprofit boards and is now chair of the Giving USA Foundation.


Megan-KarchMegan Karch

CEO, Farestart

Megan Karch has been with FareStart for 17 years. She has been an instrumental part of the organization’s significant expansion, paving the way for a broader impact on homelessness in King County — including increasing the number of individuals served by 400 percent, growing business revenue from less than $1 million to $6 million, and purchasing and renovating a new $13 million facilility. In 2016, FareStart prepared and served more than 800,000 meals to adults and children in need, and more than 261 individuals graduated from its culinary training program, with 91 percent achieving employment within 90 days. FareStart operates a successful catering and café business in Seattle and, through a national leadership initiative, is nurturing similar social enterprises in another 150 communities. In addition to leading FareStart, Megan has served on many nonprofit boards.

Kaycee Krysty

Board Chair Emerita, FareStart

Kaycee Krysty is Seattle Humane’s chair emerita and former CEO/president of Laird Norton Wealth Management. Prior to joining Laird Norton, she founded her own financial management firm that later merged with Laird Norton. An author, researcher, and opinion leader, Kaycee is known for bringing creative ideas to conversations. She has served on multiple corporate and nonprofit boards. Since “retiring” earlier this decade, Kaycee served as co-chair of Seattle Humane’s successful capital campaign, helping make it possible for the organization to double its size and save 10,000 animals annually.

David Loewe

CEO, Seattle Humane

David Loewe joined Seattle Humane in 2006 after working for more than 20 years in various management operations roles for Kansas Gas & Electric, Taigo-America, and Connected NW-Nextel. As CEO, he has applied this diverse experience to help Seattle Humane scale up and become a high-performing nonprofit that is unique in its approach to shelter all companion animals.

Succession and Transition Planning: A Holistic Approach

Level 201

Succession and transition planning is often viewed as a series of tactical steps taken to replace a departing chief executive. Instead, it should be implemented in a holistic manner that ties conversations about your future leadership needs with deep analysis about your organization’s sustainability as it relates to its business model and strategy, resources, leadership, and culture. Succession planning is also an opportunity to align the board, chief executive, and senior leadership team around your organization’s leadership priorities in a way that traditional strategic planning processes may not.

In this interactive session, you’ll learn how to use an organizational sustainability framework to identify or clarify your organization’s leadership priorities, and how to align your board development efforts with succession and transition planning. We’ll discuss the roles of the board, the chief executive, and senior leadership team in implementing a succession and transition planning process, and the differences in approach between internal successions vs. external successions.


Rachael-GibsonRachael Gibson

Senior Consultant, Raffa, PC

Rachael Gibson serves as a senior consultant for transition planning, change management, and strategy at Raffa, PC. She has expertise in facilitating complicated transition planning efforts for organizations led by founders and long-tenured executives. Rachael’s prior experience includes managing grantmaking programs and spearheading capacity-building initiatives. She is former board member of the Alliance for Nonprofit Management and is currently an adjunct professor at the Chicago School for Professional Psychology, where she teaches graduate-level courses in organizational development. Rachael earned a master’s degree in community and urban planning at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Karen-SchulerKaren Schuler

Managing Director, Raffa, PC

Karen Schuler leads Raffa, PC’s search, transition, and planning practice, serving as a senior advisor on complex projects.  She brings more than 30 years of experience to her work and has led projects for organizations across the US with annual revenues ranging from $1 million to over $70 million. Previously, Karen served as executive vice president of TransitionGuides, a national consulting firm. She holds an MBA degree, earned at the University of Maryland, and a bachelor’s degree, earned at Duke University, where she graduated magna cum laude. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Using Your Vision to Ignite Your Community, Gain Partners, and Strengthen Your Impact

Level 201

Your community is full of possibilities and opportunities. There are people and businesses just waiting to partner with you — people and businesses that can help you achieve greater impact, faster. They key to unlocking this power is in your vision statement!  In this interactive session, you’ll learn a simple technique for using your organization’s vision statement to connect with others who also want to see your community become the best it can be. We’ll then explore ways to open the door to mutually beneficial partnerships.

As a participant, you will break down your vision statements into strategic intents, each with its own power to gain community partners; practice a simple technique for using your vision statement to identify potential partners that are likely not on your radar; and learn how to approach community members in a way that welcomes them as a potentially valuable partner in strengthening the community and that positions you as not just another nonprofit with its hand out.


Terrie-TemkinTerrie Temkin

Founding Principal, Core Strategies for Nonprofits, Inc.

Terrie Temkin, Ph.D., an award-winning speaker and engaging group facilitator, brings more than 40 years of nonprofit and adult education experience to her work. Considered a thought leader in governance, Terrie is the founding principal of Core Strategies for Nonprofits, Inc.; coauthor of the Community Engagement Governance framework; and editor of You and Your Nonprofit Board: New Thinking from the Field’s Top Practitioners, Researchers, and Provocateurs.  Her work is found in many books, journals, blogs, and her popular monthly column, “On Nonprofits.” Terrie is active in her profession’s associations as well as local Florida organizations. She serves on the editorial committees of respected journals and newsletters and teaches a graduate-level course in nonprofit governance at Florida Atlantic University.