All healthy non-profit organizations must have a passionate and highly active Board of Directors.
Jim Brown is the co-founder of STRIVE!, a leading organizational consulting firm that advises organizations, boards and councils around the world on how to significantly improve governance. He says that the Board of Directors at a non-profit has two major responsibilities. Their job is to “direct,” and “protect.” According to Brown, the board of directors must remain focused on defining the long-term goals and mission, and protect the organization through oversight.
While their individual roles may differ based on financial support or area of expertise, as a team the board must work together to oversee and guide all activities, and ensure that they align with the mission. And, of course, there is one more role the board has when the non-profit is being run by Christians, and that is to pray. In fact, at Operation Exodus we consider that their most important task.
The board also oversees the work of the Executive Director and directs their mission aligned communication through that channel. However, as in all other management, transformational leadership means the communication must also flow freely in both directions. The needs and thoughts of the community being served must be communicated all they way to the board, while the message about the mission, ultimately the message of hope, must make its way down to the stakeholders.
“Protect” means the board works to assess the non-profit’s resources to ensure that they are being managed wisely. This can include financial resources and assets, as well as people. It is a grave responsibility, in that a non-profit is managing other people’s money−money invested by their donors—who also believe in the mission.
Operation Exodus is blessed to have an incredible Board of Directors, with a great deal of diversity and experience. Four key members of the board were former mentors whose lives were changed by the transformational relationships they forged with our youth. There are also two former Exodus students who understand deeply the needs of youth in our neighborhood.
According to Operation Exodus Board Chair Ashley Modisett, the Exodus board is about as active as they come. “Operation Exodus board members have a deep appreciation for the way individuals can be changed through a meaningful relationship with a mentor because they have been mentors. They are passionate about investing in those around them. In the non-profit world, you have to be willing to be changed by the people around you. The messiness that real relationships entail is the soil that produces the richest fruit.”
In the non-profit world, you have to be willing to be changed by the people around you. The messiness that real relationships entail is the soil that produces richest the fruit
David Turley, now serving as Vice Chairman, is still in touch with young people he mentored back in the early 1990’s. He has long believed that it is our inequitable systems that fail our most underserved kids. “There are systems that create trenches of poverty and brokenness. These systems fail our youngest citizens because the underlying inequity happens long before they get into school. We believe kids have a right to grow up into the person God intended them to be.”
Secretary Lana Kim has the honor of being one of the longest serving Saturday Mentors at Operation Exodus, having started her journey as a mentor over 15 years ago. Now, she advises the board on how to keep the Saturday Mentoring program strong. Lana does valuable orientation and training work and organizes fun social activities that create a sense of community and teamwork.
We also have an important voice on the board, Operation Exodus alumni Adrian Miranda. Adrian, now a successful physical therapist and health advisor, serves on the college scholarship committee.
In an exciting new development, Adrian will also be working with our Middle School youth this summer, helping them to create a Public Service Announcement (PSA). Adrian works with BRIC, a public service organization in Brooklyn. He’ll be advising our middle school youth as they do pre-production, such as scriptwriting, storyboarding, and lighting. He’ll direct the shoot, and teach them how post production works. This is a perfect example of a board member contributing their skills and expertise to further the mission.
A healthy Board of Directors is one that is diverse and active, contributing expertise, financial resources, or a special skill that can be leveraged to keep the organization mission driven, and help everyone achieve the goals that have been set. Jim Brown from STRIVE! says, “activating and maximizing the power of a high-performing board remains one of the most untapped opportunities for organizations.”