BoardSource Leadership Forum 2015

Charming New Orleans

New Orleans

The 2015 BoardSource Leadership Forum (BLF) was held in New Orleans on November 9-10 with more than 900 board members, chief executives, staff, and nonprofit professionals attending to discuss the newest thinking and best practices in nonprofit governance.

Marking the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, BLF 2015: Leading Together for the Public Good speaks to our proven ability to mobilize our energy, efforts, and voices to make a difference and even change our own trajectories when called upon to do so.

Sessions and Keynotes

The sessions were organized into three tracks: The People, The Work, and The Culture. Our senior counsel Erin Bradrick presented on Nonprofit Board Scandals and the Lessons Learned:

Nonprofit boards are in the news, but, unfortunately, it’s often not for flattering reasons.  In this session, Erin Bradrick, senior counsel with the NEO Law Group, will review some of the recent nonprofit governance scandals that have surfaced and discuss the lessons to be learned from them. She’ll also discuss how to stay out of trouble when entering into collaborations, creating earned income streams, dealing with conflicts of interest, and making compensation decisions. There will be an interactive discussion on how to spot red flags related to these and other issues, and how investing in a strong governance infrastructure can save headaches in the long term.

A number of other sessions caught my eye, including:

  • Transformational Governance: How Boards Achieve Extraordinary Change
  • One Board’s Journey toward Racial & Social Justice
  • Boosting Board Performance Where It Counts: Onboarding a New CEO
  • Ethics and Accountability: From the Mailroom to the Boardroom
  • Charity is OUT; Social Entrepreneurship is IN

The keynote speakers were James Carville (American Political Consultant and Commentator), Mary Matalin (American Political Consultant and Commentator), Kevin Washington (YMCA of the USA), and Art Taylor (BBB Wise Giving Alliance). In midst of the Presidential election campaigning, it’s interesting to see the trend of nonprofit conferences highlighting political commentators. Hopefully, the trend serves to increase voter engagement among nonprofit constituents whose voices have too often not been heard.

Twitter Highlights

  • “Save the culture first, and the rest will follow. Without the culture, it’s just another place.” – James Carville on New Orleans
  • “It matters who’s in charge!” – Carville
  • “You are the solution bringers.” – Mary Matlin to a room full of nonprofit leaders
  • Statistical research says: board relationships & engagement in strategic planning highly predictive of organizational success
  • Taking a principled approach to ethical challenges & questions w/ framework for accountability – article
  • To practice generative governance, you must be willing to ask your board questions that you don’t already have the answers to
  • Gen Next brings fresh perspectives on old problems & new networks to boards
  • Keys to a great board meeting: community building, inspiration, consent agenda, education and generative governance discussions
  • Boosting nonprofit board performance where it counts: Onboarding the CEO – article
  • Governance policies only serve their purpose if they are abided by and enforced – article
  • The sustainability of an organization is dependent on the relationship between the chief executive and board chair.
  • Not a good fact: 42% of Board Chairs identify the Internet as the primary resource for their preparation; need to equip our leaders better
  • Nonprofit risk management: What’s inside is what counts – article
  • Stand for Your Mission While Staying Within the Rules – article