CASE STORY - Board Governance
Tom is President & CEO of one of the largest Chapters of Make-A-Wish Foundation of America. He’s a passionate and inspirational leader who runs an efficient Chapter in New Jersey. Under his leadership, his Chapter has been able to ensure that every child with a life-threatening medical condition in NJ has their “wish” come true. Make-A-Wish Foundation of New Jersey has granted more than 7,500 wishes to children since its inception in 1983.
In order to fund the granting of these wishes, the Chapter raises $6 million a year ranking them in the top 5 Chapters nationally. While other CEO’s may be happy with this success, Tom’s passion drives him to constantly seek new levels of achievement to ensure that more children can have their “wish” granted.
Tom and his board chair knew that to reach a new level of success, they needed to further motivate and engage their board members in the strategic and philanthropic initiatives of the Chapter. Tom contacted Dennis to perform a comprehensive board performance assessment.
Dennis used a two-pronged approach for the performance assessment. First, he requested a list of informational items to review. This included board plans, actions and discussions related to vision and goal setting, board minutes for the past year, strategic plans, recruitment plans, current board committee structure and purpose, by-laws and board leadership succession planning. Second, he confidentially interviewed all board members as well as the Chapter’s executive team. The interviews are an extremely important tool in assessing the board’s performance because they measure the level of the board’s passion, engagement and connection to the organization.
Dennis’ recommendations highlighted the strengths of the board while offering a list of enhancements for improving the work of the board and increasing their level of engagement. They included:
- Improve the use of their Executive Committee by eliminating an “inner board” and “outer board” mentality.
- Have the Executive Board meet only when emergency issues arise
- Create a governance committee to replace the current board nominating committee
- Develop a process for board recruitment and reappointment of current members
- Utilize the talents and skills of the board members on other committees as well as the appropriate use of advisory and honorary boards
The recommendations Dennis provided were unanimously approved by the Board. It guided them in developing a priority list of goals to implement. In addition, a steering committee was appointed to ensure the successful implementation of all recommendations. Based on follow-up meetings with Tom and the Board leadership team, the Chapter is on track to reach the next level of success and grant more “wishes.” Tom would have not settled for anything less.