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On Board - Governance as Mystery

As a young nonprofit professional I had, until very recently, no idea what a board of directors did. Even as someone fascinated by the structure and composition of nonprofits’ organizational charts I could give you only the vaguest of answers when asked what the responsibilities, activities, and benefits of board service actually are. (I’m completely aware that this last sentence outs me as a governance geek, which I hope you will not only forgive me for, but come to see as endearingly dorky.)

The truth is, even as the worker bees of nonprofit hives, we rarely know what the queen and her posse are up to on a daily basis. Sure, when there’s a crisis we get a statement from a board chair. When there’s an Executive Director search in progress we may hear more. But what do boards do? What is “executive committee” and what goes on there? Why would someone even want to be on a board?

We are hoping that in this regular column, “On Board,” we will be able to discuss some of these questions. Not only do we want to focus on governance content, but also encourage you to consider your own leadership development, and possible service on a committee or board. Governance is a mysterious term we often hear, but rarely define. So, stay tuned! We look forward to delving into these questions and conversations with you over the coming months. 

*If you have a topic you would like to see covered in “On Board,” please email Lauren Van Schepen.


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