Mary Hiland, PhD has forty years’ experience with nonprofits as an executive, on boards, and consulting.
Mary understands first-hand the daily challenges nonprofit leaders face. After leading two mergers, she became the CEO of a nonprofit with 530 employees. After twenty-six years as an executive (and many years of board service), Mary has been consulting and coaching nonprofits for the last fifteen years. Her passion is working with nonprofit leaders to unleash the potential of the board and strengthen the board-executive relationship.
Mary is a published author, speaker, trainer, and researcher. Effectiveness requires taking action as a result of knowledge. With several degrees and a focus in leadership and governance, Mary helps nonprofit leaders apply research and knowledge in very practical ways to the challenges they face.
Reach Mary at [email protected] or through

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The Three Mistakes Nonprofit Leaders Make Orienting Board Members

We know that boards influence the performance of your nonprofit. So, having an effective board is very important to your mission — and that’s what you care about, right? One of the biggest opportunities you have to ensure your board realizes its full potential and advances your organization’s mission is in orienting new board members effectively. Yet, while so many nonprofits do orient new board members, most nonprofits make three big mistakes in their board orientations causing them to lose valuable time and resources.

Going Deeper with Boards: What’s REALLY Going On?

Nonprofit boards are largely an untapped resource. A bold statement, perhaps, but one supported by recent research. Boards need to evolve as the organizations they lead and serve evolve. The people involved need to decide what aspect of the board needs to be developed or change. Too often the focus is on symptoms – we…

Agreements on Board Accountability: Does Your Board Have Any?

Have you ever heard nonprofit leaders say that they had found people who matched their criteria for new board members but that, once they got on the board, the recruited board members were not engaged or didn’t fulfill the basic expectations communicated when they were elected? Not a rare occurrence, unfortunately! An important element of…

Do We Need or Want an Advisory “Board”?

Do we need or want an advisory “board”? This question came up in a group of nonprofit leaders I recently attended. There were as many perspectives as there were people and, clearly, not a consistent understanding about what they even meant by “Advisory Board.” The discussion yielded some very interesting information about a wide variety…

Exploring Board Development: Part Two – Critical Success Factors

In Part One of this article, I discussed the five dimensions of board development and proposed a definition. This article continues the exploration of board development, focusing on how it benefits nonprofits and the critical success factors. The ideas presented in both articles are based on the findings from my recent study involving conversations with…

Exploring Board Development: Part One - What is it?

You have only to listen in a gathering of executive directors to hear the challenges boards can present. We have all heard the stories of woes when boards are dysfunctional. But where are the stories about what is working? We know nonprofit boards matter. But declaring it does not help many executives and board members…