AAPIP Conversation with Leaders: Gordon Chin and Jan Masaoka

On March 13, the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP), an affinity group of the Council on Foundations, held a program featuring two prominent nonprofit leaders:  Gordon Chin, founding Executive Director of the Chinese Community Development Center (CCDC), and Jan Masaoka, former Executive Director of CompassPoint Nonprofit Services and current Editor-in-Chief of Blue Avocado, an online magazine launching in April.

Some of the gems I got from the program –

  • Young leaders in the nonprofit sector need to receive more criticism.  We’re good at giving and receiving positive feedback, but often what’s most needed is honest feedback that tells us where we’re doing a bad job and need to improve.
  • A great way to get this type of feedback is to ask your board after each meeting:  What is the best thing I did at this meeting?  What is the worst thing I did at this meeting?
  • CCDC serves the community; CCDC is not the community.  The community will persist even if an organization serving the community does not.
  • A leader may best serve his or her organization by being the type of person who the organization needs him or her to be at that time.  Sometimes that may be the quiet, thoughtful leader; other times that may the vocal advocate. 

From a legal perspective, great leadership lowers the risk of liability to an organization and its directors and officers.  Education, support, and constructive criticism can help develop great leaders.