Have you considered becoming a Board Member for an organization you love? ECS is currently seeking a few new Board Members.
Bruce Greenspon, ECS Board Vice Chair and Board Trustee, shares some of his experience and expertise about Board engagement here:
I believe, the inequality in public education is our country’s greatest crisis. As a Board member at ECS, we get an opportunity to be the agent of change that this crisis desperately needs.
– Bruce Greenspon
Non-profit Board work allows you to have a direct and lasting impact on addressing a crisis/injustice that desperately needs attention. You’re able to ‘give back’ through the investment of your time, your resources, your network, and your financial assistance too. The results, if done correctly are incredibly impactful and humbling. You get a chance to work alongside dedicated people that strive every day to make a difference and you will be able to make new friends aligned through a shared sense of adversity and achievement. You’ll be able to grow your personal and professional network. In fact, employers actively look for employees that have worked with nonprofits, they see this work as a strong enabler to lifting up our communities. Non-profit Board work may just make the difference that distinguishes yourself above your peers. It’s incredibly rewarding.
I hear this question often. You are, if you can be honest with yourself that you have the time and resources necessary to meet and exceed the expectations of the nonprofit you choose to work with. It’s essential that before you begin the courtship ritual with a non-profit board, you review their written expectations for Board members. Through these written expectations you’ll be able to understand how both you and the organization will measure your success.
As ECS Board members, we inform strategy and gather the needed resources our public schools desperately need to continue to perform far above similar public schools in the state of California. We implement these strategies and help manage the education outcomes through a lens of innovation and equity, working alongside people that get up every day to matter in the lives of others. We help foster relationships with the community and serve as role models to the students. You can clearly feel your time and energy will matter if you get involved with our schools. Mattering, matters.
Interested in what it takes to be an ECS Board Member? CLICK HERE
The Annenberg Alchemy’s Leadership Seminar – is it for you? For 20 years, the Annenberg Foundation has invested in the visionary leadership of non-profit executives and board members through financial grants, capacity building initiatives, and other resources.
Read about Bruce’s experience with The Annenberg Alchemy’s Leadership Seminar below.
Our super dedicated ECS Board Member, Bruce Greenspon, also serves as Community Champion for the Annenberg Foundation and manages contract negotiations for Raytheon by day. Bruce, his wife, and young son live and play in Manhattan Beach.
AS FEATURED IN ANNENBERG ALCHEMY
By Bruce Greenspon
Published: November 13, 2013
“These instructors don’t understand. How can they tell me that my board needs to fundraise and that they need to personally contribute financially in a meaningful way. You’re telling me that my board needs to contribute in a different manner than what they’re already doing? They don’t get it. My nonprofit is different.”
Have you ever been at a training session, and had these thoughts creep into your head?
I did. It happened about six years ago, when I first started Annenberg Alchemy’s Leadership Seminar as the board chair of Environmental Charter Schools.
But by the afternoon on that first day, I realized I was wrong. The instructors did understand. And the lessons they offered were applicable whether you were rescuing cats or trying to provide an excellent education for a troubled eighth grader.
The key insight was this:
All non-profit organizations need to develop an infrastructure that supports the current mission as well as future growth. Alchemy is designed to help us create that infrastructure.
The Alchemy curriculum is straight-forward: understanding and instituting good board governance, developing a fundraising skill set, learning how to articulate your story in a compelling manner and understanding the finances of your organization so you can follow through on your fiduciary responsibility as a board member.
I was initially resistant to the changes that Alchemy proposed because they seemed so comprehensive and, I admit, daunting. What I came to realize is that the benefits are just as comprehensive as the changes.
In fact, the Alchemy experience was so powerful for me that I became a volunteer. As an Alchemy Community Champion, I now provide a through-line and a voice from the trenches for non-profit leaders attending Alchemy+, the second stage of Alchemy training. Throughout the sessions, I stay with the participants as a guide and a resource. I also support them through e-mail and on the phone throughout all the sessions.
Alchemy provides Community Champions in the course because they believe that organizational development depends on the development of strong relationships. It’s not just about growing your knowledge base; it’s about growing your ability to collaborate. Collaborating with a non-profit leader that has instituted what he or she learned in the program, and learning from the community champion’s mistakes and successes is very helpful.
During the Alchemy seminars, the information doesn’t just flow from the front of the room to the back of the room. It goes side to side – as nonprofits network and share experiences with each other. In fact, perhaps the most important relationship building goes on within a nonprofit. Alchemy mandates that the board chair and executive director must attend all sessions together. That means for eight hours a day on three different days (four, if you’re in the Alchemy+ program), the executive director and the board chair can talk about – and focus on – their organization outside of normal duties and distractions. They can observe how they each problem-solve and figure out how best to support one another. The learning that takes place between these key leaders can be transformative. Networking with other non-profit leaders is another invaluable resource; sharing challenges, successes and resources helps build a trusted network of leaders you can turn to for confidence and help.
Here’s just one of the ways that Alchemy has helped transform our organization.
More effective, efficient board meetings. By driving much of the board’s work to committee meetings, we maximized board members’ participation while respecting their time. Each committee considers issues, then makes a recommendation to the board through the consent agenda. This strategy saves time and allows board members to concentrate on their particular skill sets and interests.
I am now vice-chair of the board at ECS as well as being chair of a spinoff nonprofit which oversaw the $7.5 million build-out of a new middle school in Gardena. ECS now has two middle schools in operation in Southern California as well as our high school in Lawndale. All our schools aim to prepare students for four-year colleges using the environment as a lens for real-life learning.
We’ve come a long way since we first attended Alchemy. But I remember that day vividly, and that’s why I can recommend it without reservation.
You’ll get knowledge from experts. You’ll build relationships that will pay off in ways you can’t really imagine right now. The training is completely free. You just have to commit the time. When you look at it that way, there’s no down side.