Reflections on BLF14: Post #14 – Governance By Design

Reflection on 2014 Board Leadership Forum, is the first of two reviews submitted by Kent Castleman. The session on executive transition was also reviewed by Carrie Minnich.

Attending the Big Leadership Forum by BoardSource was a great experience for me as a non-profit executive director, founder, board member and Get on Board Committee Member.

We are very blessed to have the level of training and non-profit board governance we have in Fort Wayne and Allen County which has been led by the Foellinger Foundation, but supported and embraced by many other funders and supporters.

GOB in Washington, D.C. at the Board Leadership Forum last autumn.
GOB in Washington, D.C. at the Board Leadership Forum last autumn. Kent Castleman is on the far left.

The theme of the conference was Governance By Design which allowed for an overwhelming focus throughout the conference on being intentional about nonprofit engagement and intentional about your role as a board member/leader.

So many times people are asked to be on a board without doing their own homework to understand the culture and environment of that board or organization. The conference speakers focused on this point throughout the conference….. “Intentionality leads to success. “

Leadership Transition and Succession…

As the founder and Executive Director of the Cornerstone Youth Center serving youth in Southeast Allen County, I have many worries when it comes to the time I might move on past Cornerstone.So I spent several of my workshop sessions reviewing leadership transition and succession planning.

While the transitioning of a leader might be overwhelming for many boards and CEO/Executive Directors, there are steps that can be done to ease the process.

The session I gleamed the most from on the topic was led by Don Tebbe with Exits from the Top. While a lot of the workshop was spent talking about planned or guided successions, he emphasized that whether it is planned or unplanned, the success lies in how it is managed.

Useful advice for all ages of CEO/Executive Directors:

Tebbe also stated that for a CEO/Executive Director to leave, they must have a “magnetic post-career project, drawing you forward into the next phase of your life.”

If the leader leaving has a great opportunity or a plan for their life after retirement, the transitions have been much more successful.

He did not spend a lot of time on transitions that were negative in nature, but he does address those on his website. Take some time to visit which offers podcasts, videos and other FREE resources for CEO/Executive Director transitions.

You can view the presentation at

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