Sunday, November 29, 2009

A step toward local board partnership

Is there potential for the kind of board partnership in Laramie that I described last Sunday? Five nonprofit friends and I will begin the discussion this Thursday.

The Facebook feed of last week's post drew strong interest among a group of women who share an interest in increasing the effectiveness and capacity of their nonprofits - and who understand the leadership role that their boards play in that success. We're an action-oriented group. Thursday's chat will begin the exploration of what is needed, what is possible, and what is worth creating for our community.

I'll share the highlights of that discussion here following the discussion. In the meantime, if you have any ideas that you would like to contribute to the initial conversation, please share them via comment here. I'll carry them to Thursday's meeting.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Reflecting on ARNOVA 2009

I had good intentions for blogging as well as tweeting from the 2009 ARNOVA conference, but a multi-day rush of great information and thought-provoking conversations about all things nonprofit left my brain overloaded by the time I sat down to write a new post.

When wireless access allowed, I tweeted from the sessions I attended. My Twitter profile offers a glimpse into the ideas I found most share-worthy in those sessions. It's not the same as being in the room, but it will offer a glimpse into what I considered to be important (see the tweets dated 11/18-21).

Particularly exciting was the chance to sit in on several fascinating sessions on nonprofit governance, and to engage a new peer group in conversations that identified many intersections between our individual research interests. An observation made during those talks: the ways in which our respective efforts focused on individual motivations, shared meaning making, and group communication processes. We've committed to continue the discussion and, best of all, explore collaboration.

This was my first experience with social reporting. I must admit that it was exciting to not only share my thoughts via Twitter but to read what my peers were posting in real time from the sessions they were attending. It also gave me a sense of what is possible, and how technology can help extend the reach of rich learning opportunities. The potential is great, especially for our more 'local' efforts (like the Snowy Range Nonprofit Institute).

I'm still processing all that I have learned from this trip to Cleveland. Other posts may expand upon some of the ideas that resonate, as I reflect on how they might apply to readers of this blog.

Creating a Laramie nonprofit partnership

How can I best support Laramie nonprofits, specifically, the boards that govern the organizations within that community?

That is a question I’m perpetually asking myself, more so now that my doctoral dissertation is behind me and the need to share what I learned about boards grows more urgent. I had a chance to think about it with friends Saturday, as I participated in a lively discussion about bridging the theory-to-practice divide during the 2009 ARNOVA conference.

I am a practitioner at heart. Concerns about whether my activities result in scholarly publications do not drive decisions about what I do, with whom, when. I am intensely driven to co-create a supportive environment where sharing and learning can occur. “Co-create” is the key in what I envision. Certainly, I have and am prepared to provide knowledge and leadership on topics related to nonprofit boards and their governance responsibilities. But I do not see my role as an exclusive one. Rather, I envision an engaging environment for our local nonprofit boards, where we each play a role in learning and growing together. Each of us can teach each other, just as we can learn from each other.

What would that look like? I have a few ideas, but it’s ultimately not about me. I’m interested in hearing from local nonprofit board members: what are your strengths, your challenges? What do you need to succeed? What do you need to stay passionate and confident about your ability to make a difference? How can we partner to make that happen? Please share your thoughts via comment, so we can have begin the conversation.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Blogging from Cleveland

I'll be blogging and tweeting from the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) conference beginning Wednesday night.

It will be a great opportunity to share impressions and insights as I learn from scholars and practitioners focused on understanding and supporting the nonprofit sector. Particularly exciting will be the chance to participate on what promises to be a thought-provoking panel on Thursday afternoon, titled "Board Process and Context: The Role of Communication, Interpretation, and Learning."

Not only will I be sharing highlights from my dissertation research (video overview here), but I'll have a chance to meet and hear from the authors of three intriguing papers I've been privileged to read. Great minds apparently do think alike: there are many intersections across our work. There's so much to learn - and share - about nonprofit governance!

You can follow my Twitter feed at To follow all of the Twitter activity from the conference, follow the hashtag #arnova09.

In addition to updates on this blog, check out these ARNOVA member blogs: