Tips for Executive Directors from those who have been there

By Scot Kersgaard, JVA Consulting

Do you want to grow your nonprofit? Do you want to become a better nonprofit leader?

“Surround yourself with people who push you, who think differently than you do. Find someone who asks ‘what can we do differently?’“ This is what ClÍnica Tepeyac Executive Director, Jim Garcia, asked JVA’s most recent Executive Director Academy (EDA) in February. Having the good fortune to find someone who fit this description to join ClÍnica, Garcia says he can now spend more of his time focused on the big picture.

Each session of the EDA features a “genius panel,” where successful EDs come in and talk to students and answer questions and maybe stick around for a glass of wine. In addition to Garcia, February’s panel included Barbara Raynor of Boomers Leading Change in Health, Norma Portnoy of Kids First Health Care, formerly known as Community Health Services, and Eric Kornacki of Revision International.

“My philosophy about putting a team together is to hire good people and let them do their jobs,” said Raynor. “I’m hands off with staff.”

She said when she was hired, she was handed a business plan and a budget that was detailed down to how much the phones would cost. “Things did not go according to plan. Virtually nothing went according to plan,” she recounted. She said she was starting to stress out about her inability to execute the plan, when one of the organization’s funders took her aside and gave her some of the best advice she’s ever gotten.

“It’s only a plan,” he told her. “If you need to go another route, then go another route.” He said, “’it’s only a budget,’ and I’m like, well OK. I’d never worked any place where people weren’t married to the plan, but today my advice is if you’re going to be married to a plan make sure it’s an open marriage

[HS2] .”

Raynor told the EDA class of current and aspiring EDs that if they kept a flexible view of their plans, they would find that opportunities would come down the road “that you can’t even imagine.”


This is the first in a series of blogs based on discussions with the Genius Panel.

2017-01-07T18:50:29+00:00 March 7th, 2014|Blog|0 Comments

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