In Season 2, Episode 7, I spoke with the top directors of Safe Haven Family Shelter (a family homeless shelter) and Carpenter's Square (a faith-based community center) to find out how they became the CEO and Executive Director of their organizations. They told me about their professional journeys and gave advice for young nonprofit professionals who aspire to become CEOs of their own organizations.
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Here is this week's checklist:
☑️ Get your foot in the door of the nonprofit sector.
Don't feel like you have to be Executive Director right away. Start off by volunteering on a committee or board, or with an entry-level paid position. Get to know the cause areas you're passionate about, the type of organization you want to work for, and the type of team you want to work with.
☑️ Make and keep great relationships.
Find a great mentor who you trust to give good career advice and tell you the truth when you ask tough questions. Never burn bridges, because the nonprofit community is small.
☑️ Learn to make good, and hard, decisions.
Find a safe space to prove your leadership skills. Grow your mettle. Learn from your (and others') mistakes.
☑️ Never surprise a board.
Be open, honest, and transparent about your strengths and weaknesses. If disappointing news comes up, tell your board immediately.
☑️ Be prepared for surprises.
There's only so much you can learn about an organization from a 990! Learn to be extremely organized and thoughtful so you can handle surprises that come your way.
And if you need more help...
☑️ Email me and tell me what's going on at your nonprofit.
What are your current goals? What issues are you facing? Give me some background information, and we'll go from there! I never charge for an initial consultation, and I'll be honest if I can't help you. I'll also be happy to connect you with the other resources in my network who may be able to provide better advice or services for your situation.