Board members learn principles for effective service

October 28, 2014 by

Attorney John W. Mize speaks to workshop participants at the Nazareth Motherhouse Tuesday evening.

Attorney John W. Mize speaks to workshop participants at the Nazareth Motherhouse Tuesday evening.

John W. Mize used his own experience to illustrate his points Tuesday evening.

John W. Mize used his own experience to illustrate his points Tuesday evening.

Some 25 or so people who serve on one of a dozen nonprofit boards came together Tuesday evening to learn how to do their jobs better.

The presenter at the workshop hosted by the Sisters of St. Joseph was John W. Mize, a longtime Salina attorney who wrote a how-to guide titled “The Eight Principles of Effective Governance: A Handbook for Directors of Nonprofit Organizations.”

Mize said his interest in the topic came from serving on the board of a “fairly prominent statewide organization,” which he did not name. “These were very smart people,” he said, “and it was the most dysfunctional board I’d ever been on. I would come home after a meeting and think, ‘Why is this like this?’ ”

Seeking an answer to that question eventually led him to Regis University, where in 2005 he received a master’s degree in nonprofit management. He wrote the handbook as his master’s project.

Each participant Tuesday evening received a copy of the handbook — packed with simple checklists and written in easy-to-understand language — and Mize worked through the principles with stories from his own experience as a governing board member and leader in many local and statewide nonprofit professional, health care, civic and educational organizations.

The longtime Salina attorney closed his presentation with an emphasis on servant-leadership in nonprofit organizations.

The longtime Salina attorney closed his presentation with an emphasis on servant-leadership in nonprofit organizations.

“There’s no cookie-cutter approach,” he said. “Every community and every organization is different. But there are basic principles — and common sense — that apply no matter what your size or complexity.”

Mize’s eight principles are:

  1. Effective directors focus on improving the constituency served by the organization.
  2. Effective directors are dedicated to defining and fulfilling the missing and vision of the organization
  3. Effective directors understand the legal limitations placed on the organization because of being tax exempt.
  4. Effective directors understand the legal duties required of them and are committed to compliance.
  5. Effective directors have good processes for selecting themselves, for organizing themselves to fulfill their responsibilities and for self-monitoring their performance.
  6. Effective directors define the expectations for and have sound processes for hiring, evaluating and compensating the chief executive officer of the organization.
  7. Effective directors understand governing and managing are complementary but separate functions.
  8. Effective directors are servant-leaders of the organization.

The workshop and supper, held at the Nazareth Motherhouse, was co-sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph and the Community Foundation for Cloud County. This is the second workshop for members of nonprofit boards of director that Mize has presented; the first — also co-sponsored by the sisters and the foundation — was in October 2012.

The people who had registered in advance for Tuesday’s workshop were entered in a drawing for one of three donations from the Community Foundation to a charity of their choice.

The three winners, and their charities, were:

  • Cherri Waites, who received $250 that she donated to Cloud County Health Center
  • Stefanie Perret, $250 for the Cloud County Community Resource Council
  • Betty Losh, $500 for the Cloud County Historical Society

 

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