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Stephen C. Nill, JD

About Stephen

Can You Help Answer These Five Questions about Nonprofit Boards?

I just had the opportunity to have an online chat (see video below) with some longtime members of the CharityChannel professional community, Mike Burns, Judy Freiwirth, Gayle L. Gifford, and Mary Hiland. They are taking a deep dive into five questions about nonprofit boards that can help nonprofits strengthen their boards. The questions:

  1. What are the ways that boards use officers and committee chairs to provide leadership?
  2. How are they selected and prepared for their roles?
  3. Is the traditional model of the single-person board chair unrealistic?
  4. How do board officers/committee chairs share leadership and what are the models of shared or distributed leadership within boards?
  5. To what extent does diversity and inclusion influence the selection and succession planning of chairs and other board?

Answering even one of these questions in a definitive way will help board leaders do a better job of governing the organization.

You can help. To learn more, watch my 19-minute interview with these forward-thinking leaders.

What You Can Do

As a practitioner, you no doubt have access to board leaders for your organization and maybe even serve on a board or two. Would you ask them to take an online survey sponsored by the Alliance of Nonprofit Management? It's here:

Here's a PDF version of the Alliance Leadership of Boards Survey Slides Feb 2018 you can download and share. Here is the PDF version of the Outreach Announcement for Leadership of Board Study.

Thank you for helping to advance our understanding of board leadership!


About the Interviewees

Judy Freiwirth, Psy.D

Judy Freiwirth

Dr. Judy Freiwirth is an organization development consultant, trainer, and national speaker with Nonprofit Solutions Associates. For over thirty years she has been consulting to and training for nonprofits, networks, and coalitions, primarily with social change organizations. She serves as chair of the Alliance for Nonprofit Management’s Governance Affinity Group and as the New England Co-Coordinator. She is the primary developer and researcher for the innovative governance approach, Community-Engagement Governance™, a framework in which community stakeholders are engaged in shared governance decision-making. She holds a doctorate in psychology, specializing in organization development. She serves on the Editorial Board the Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership.


Mike Burns

Mike Burns

Mike Burns has over twenty years as a nonprofit manager. Since 1994, Mike has been a partner and organizational development consultant in BWB Solutions. His work focuses on strategic and business planning, nonprofit governance, and helping nonprofits assess their readiness for mergers. His blog, Nonprofit Board Crisis, highlights nonprofit governance matters. His research team member recently completed a national survey on the roles and relationships of nonprofit board chairs. Mike has a BS in business administration from Marquette University; a master’s degree in nonprofit management with a focus on governance from Lesley College; and, a graduate certificate in nonprofit marketing management from the University of Hartford.


Gayle Gifford

Gayle Gifford

Gayle L. Gifford, MS, ACFRE, co-President of Cause & Effect Inc. is a nationally known consultant, author, and trainer. She brings more than thirty years of experience in board development, strategic and business planning and fund development to her work with nonprofits. Gayle is an adjunct instructor at Brown University. She is a co-researcher of the Alliance for Nonprofit Management’s Voices of Board Chairs. Gayle is author of two books and contributor to four, including You and Your Nonprofit Board. Gayle is an active community volunteer and board chair. She holds an MS in management from Antioch University New England.


Mary Hiland

Mary Hiland

Mary Hiland, PhD has over forty years’ experience with nonprofits. Mary understands first-hand nonprofit leaders’ daily challenges. After twenty-six years as an executive (and years of board service) Mary has consulted and coached nonprofits for sixteen years. Her passion is working with nonprofit leaders—unleashing the potential of nonprofit boards and strengthening board-executive partnerships. Mary is an author, speaker, trainer, and researcher. Effectiveness requires action built on knowledge. With several degrees and a focus in governance, Mary helps nonprofit leaders apply research and knowledge in very practical ways to the challenges they face. Reach Mary:
[email protected] or






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