Ep 52: Personal Politics vs. Public Responsibilities (with Anne Wallestad)

nonprofits are messyEvery person who joins a board comes with opinions and points of view. But what happens when your responsibility to your organization as a board member conflicts with your personal politics? Should you keep it to yourself?

A recent controversy at the American Museum of Natural History in New York has brought these questions front and center, and I found the perfect guest to bring onto the podcast to discuss this topic – Anne Wallestad, the President and CEO of BoardSource.

BoardSource is all about nonprofit governance. They’re the go to resource for 115,000 nonprofit boards and leaders to help advance public good through a commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity.

Together, we discuss the importance of strong values in leadership, and we get into how the personal views of board members (and that of its members) relate to the needs of the organization — with an important distinction between those who have a decision making role and those who do not.

We also discuss recruitment strategies and vetting processes for finding people with great leadership potential, focusing on values in the context of the organization’s mission.

About Anne Wallestad – President & CEO of BoardSource

Anne has 20 years of executive leadership experience in the nonprofit sector and was appointed President & CEO of BoardSource in 2013. BoardSource is an organization that trains and educates nonprofit leaders at the highest level – the board – providing tools, resources, and research data to increase board effectiveness and strengthen organizational impact. Under her leadership BoardSource has expanded its voice and built a scalable model of program delivery that has resulted in a more than 200 percent growth in the number of leaders served.

She played an instrumental role in the launch of several new leadership initiatives including the Stand for Your Mission campaign. Ann also has deep expertise in fundraising strategy and leveraging the board’s fundraising role.

Anne has been honored as one of The Nonprofit Times’ “Power & Influence Top 50.”

In this episode

  • Are diversity of thought, independent mindedness, and a culture of inquiry assets or liabilities on a board?
  • What a dynamic mission statement looks like and how it can help you when you are a champion of the mission but disagree with the organization’s strategy.
  • The specific difference it makes when there is clarity around decision-making power within an organization.
  • How signing up for a board makes members vocal and visible champions of the mission of the organization.
  • The board’s role in leadership, strategy, oversight, planning and prioritizing for impact
  • Should a political litmus test be something you weigh up against a donor’s contributions?
  • What is the difference between policy response and responding to a specific situation when under fire.

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