Tomorrow our Board of Directors meets together, so I’d like to highlight what they do and what they mean to us. They gather three times a year to ensure that the organization remains focused on our mission and follows transparent and credible business practices. They also give us valuable advice on future plans and present problems. Finally, they are among our most generous supporters, freely giving their time and money to enable us do our work. The government requires that we have a board to provide responsible oversight, but common sense also suggests that we have a board to provide much needed help and encouragement. We couldn’t succeed without them, and I’m grateful for each one.
That said, it’s taken us 12+ years to find the best way to utilize the skills and wisdom of this talented group. When Tim Headington and I established the Institute, we needed a group of advisors primarily to encourage and embolden us in this new venture. Starting from scratch was a lonely task, and these wise people cheered us along during those lean years.
As the organization matured, we needed thoughtful advice on how to wisely manage growth. Our board helped us successfully navigate the problems that come with success. At several key moments, they helped us avoid costly errors and take advantage of unexpected opportunities.
Now, our board is working to become more independent, systematic, and accountable to ensure our future. This is part of our succession planning, since it’s clear that the Institute has important work to do beyond my tenure as President. Although I plan to remain in this role for many more years, helping a “founder” eventually move aside is tricky business fraught with unique challenges. I have a growing appreciation for the strength of our board and their important role in this process during the years ahead.
Each new phase of board development mirrored the changes in our organization. Sometimes these transitions were smooth and natural. Other times, not so much. Regardless, we were united by our desire to do all we could to help humanitarian aid workers thrive and flourish in their work. This mission continues to require the commitment of both our board and staff, working together to move the Institute boldly ahead. I’m optimistic about the outcome.
Perhaps you have experience working with the board of your own organization or a similar nonprofit agency? I’d appreciate your comments and advice on ways to recognize and utilize the unique contributions of a Board of Directors. Please take a moment to share your experiences with us.
Jim Guy, President & Cofounder