Reflections on BLF14: Post #13 – For Us, By Us Governance

Reflection on 2014 Board Leadership Forum, submitted by Donald Gage.

The conference was a great learning experience since I am new to the non-for-profit world. I learned a lot but it was not until I sat down in the Holmead room at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday October 9, 2014 that I realized I wasn’t alone.

GOB in Washington, D.C. at the Board Leadership Forum last autumn
GOB in Washington, D.C. at the Board Leadership Forum last autumn. Donald Gage is on the far right.

I went to this particular break out session thinking I was going to get the answer to a few questions I had been struggling with but in return I realized I was not the only one struggling with these questions such as:

  • Where are minorities when it comes to board service?
  • How does the conversation get started about diverse board service within the community?
  • How do I speak for the African-American community?
  • How do we recruit and engage minorities?

None of my questions were answered. Others in the room were asking the same questions.

Recruitment, engagement and sustainability of a diverse non-profit board and/or committee is a nationwide struggle. It reassured me that I was not alone.

Many minorities have walked away from board service for one reason or another. Individuals in the room discussed the importance of current minority board members mentoring potential members.

An individual in the room asked me how would he recruit me?

My answer to that gentleman is that most likely our paths would not have crossed.

I have lived in Fort Wayne for over ten years and it was not until I came across Get On Board two years ago that I had the opportunity to sit down with non-profit organizations to learn how I can make a difference in my community.

I found comfort in knowing that Get On Board is providing the opportunity for community members to receive training and access to local non-profit boards whose mission resonates with them.

Governance by design is not easy but well worth it.  Does your board reflect the community that you serve?

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