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Academy set for Guilford executive directors

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Todd Cohen

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Leadership development will be the focus of a nine-month “Executive Director Academy” the Guilford Nonprofit Consortium will launch in September in collaboration with Discovery Learning and the Center for Creative Leadership.

The initial program will enroll 12 nonprofit executive directors, match them with professional coaches, connect them with one another, and offer them a curriculum that will address a range of leadership issues.

“Many executive directors are out there alone,” says Donna Newton, coordinator for the consortium. “A lot of the organizations are small and they don’t have a lot of peer interaction.”

Formed to bring executive directors together to address challenges they face, and to find solutions and ways to work together, the consortium has roughly 125 nonprofit
members.

It offers a bimonthly roundtable for executive directors, a bimonthly roundtable on nonprofit financial issues, and a monthly conversation on best practices for nonprofits.

The new academy for executive directors builds on the work of the consortium, which in September also will sponsor a breakfast workshop on how nonprofits can connect with resources at local colleges and universities.

The new academy is modeled on a national initiative, formerly known as “The Executive Committee,” that each month brings together the presidents of small organizations in their communities, says Russ Moxley, principal of consulting firm Moxley & Associates and a member of an advisory committee of the consortium that
developed the new academy.

“Once you get to the top of any organization, including executive director of a nonprofit, you don’t have other people to whom you can turn to engage in rich, good
conversations,” says Moxley, a former faculty member at the Center for Creative Leadership. “It can be lonely at the top.”

The idea of the new academy, he says, will be “putting people with similar roles and responsibilities together to enable them to learn from and with each other.”

By connecting them, he says, executive directors then can call on one another to look for ways to address opportunities and problems as they arise.

Each executive director enrolled in the academy will meet at least once a month with a professional coach recruited by Chris Musselwhite, president and CEO of consulting firm Discovery Learning and a member of the consortium’s advisory committee.

And as part of their curriculum, the executive directors will receive mentor training so they, in turn, can serve as coaches for other executive directors in the community, Newton says.

After a kickoff that will last a day and a half, executive directors enrolled in the academy will attend monthly classes, with the curriculum developed in collaboration with the Center for Creative Leadership and the executive directors themselves.

Topics for classes might include organizational culture; the distinction between leadership and management; assessing leadership styles; and leading for change.

American Express provided seed funding for the new academy, which also has received support from the Cemala Foundation, Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, Joseph M. Bryan Foundation, Michel Family Foundation, Tannenbaum-Sternberger Foundation, and the Weaver Foundation.

On Sept. 17, in the conference hall at Holy Trinity Church, the consortium will sponsor a breakfast workshop for nonprofits featuring representatives from all colleges and
universities in Greensboro and High Point.

Featuring a panel of college officials, the workshop will focus on resources the schools offer to nonprofits such as work-study interns and research.

On the fourth Thursday of every month, starting at 11:45 a.m., the consortium hosts roundtable luncheons for nonprofits, focusing on finance issues one month and
issues involving executive directors the alternating months.

The finance roundtables are held at the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, and the executive director roundtables are held at the Women’s Resource Center.

And on the third Thursday of every month, starting at 11:45 a.m., the consortium hosts a conversation at the community foundation focusing on nonprofit best practices.

The consortium also has added a financial help center to its website at guilfordnonprofits.org that lets members connect by email with a certified public accountant to ask
questions and get free advice.

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