09 Aug

How I Built My Board

by Tom Egan  – FSL

In my previous two positions I found myself in need of rebuilding the Board of Directors, and I feel I was successful in both endeavors. I was recently asked, how did you build your board? My answer lead to this blog post.

I start by working with my existing board to determine what the ideal board would look like. Then we collectively determine what our expectations of board members will be. We create criteria for all board members, and develop a Board of Director job description.  We identify the industries, companies, or skills that we would like to have on our board then set a goal for a number of new board members to be recruited.

I have found that Phoenix is a really big small town, so if you reach out to a few key people and or entities you can get help in building your board of directors. Below is a list that I have found to be incredibly helpful to me in my board building efforts.

Valley Leadership’s LeaderLink: Online platform aimed at building the capacity of the nonprofit sector by connecting trained, engaged volunteer leaders with agencies seeking board members.

Hispanic Leadership Institute: promotes the individual development of Hispanics for increased participation in leadership roles and serves as a principal education and networking resource for expertise and advocacy on leadership issues affecting Latino communities.

Black Board of Directors Project: an advanced leadership program, was started in Phoenix in 1984 to fill the void of Blacks and others on various on corporate, charitable and public policy-making boards and commissions at the local, state and national levels and other leadership positions.

Asian Corporate & Entrepreneur Leaders (ACEL): is a non-profit organization providing Asian American professionals across the Phoenix metropolitan area opportunities to work together to enhance Asian American leadership in our careers, communities and the local government that we live and serve in.

The Manifesto Project: The program encourages organizations to reserve a “shadow” position on their Board of Directors, executive committee, or subcommittee for a high potential young professional who has been matched to their organization or identified internally. Individuals selected will receive high quality board and professional development training through the Manifesto Project’s community partners, be assigned a mentor within the host organization, and serve a 1-year, non-voting term where they will gain invaluable high-level strategic experience in their chosen sector.

State Bar of Arizona: The State Bar of Arizona is a non-profit organization that operates under the supervision of the Arizona Supreme Court. The Bar regulates approximately 18,250 active attorneys and provides education and development programs for the legal profession and the public. The Bar and its members are committed to serving the public by making sure the voices of all people in Arizona are heard in our justice system. There are specialty Bar associations for groups such as: Women, Hispanic, Asian, Young Lawyers, etc.

Trade Associations: There is probably a trade association for whatever profession you are searching for. At my last job, I was searching for a board member with Public Health experience, I was introduced to the American Public Health Association and found a member with this experience.

Community Relations Liaisons: If you are looking for a board member from a specific company, make sure it is their corporate culture to place members of their staff on boards, does your organization’s mission match their philanthropic interests? If so, reach out to their Community Relations staff, share you criteria for board members and see if they are open to a meeting.