Dave is the President and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank in Florida and is one of Orlando Business Journal’s 2015 class of CEO of the Year honorees. He has 22 years of experience in the food security sector. He started in non-profit management with a food bank in Miami, as president and C.E.O and then moved on to work at the national level for Feeding America as vice president of business development. Dave also serves on various boards at the local, state, and international levels.
Second Harvest Food Bank, based in Orlando, is Central Florida’s largest nonprofit food distributor. They are the “bridge” to an incredible amount of surplus food to a large population in Florida that is food insecure and at-risk of being hungry. Last year, they provided enough food for forty million meals.
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Here are just a few highlights of the conversation:
Engaging the Board in Developing a Strong Vision
Dave believes in the old saying “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” That vision, though bigger than the board itself, should lay out a map of where they’re going. So co-create that vision, and eventually your mission, with your board.
Using the Strategic Plan as a Way to Document Progress
Strategic planning may sound a lot of work but if done right, you have the roadmap to where you are going. Document the progress towards that vision and when people see progress and positive results, they’re more likely to stay involved.
Building on a Strong Foundation and Envisioning a Better Future
Review the mission of your organization and what it was in the past and hit the refresh button. Does this mission still hold or does it need to be tweaked? What else can you do to benefit the community? Healthy questions such as those make your direction much clearer.
Staying Tuned in with Your Board
Dave recalls being an executive director of a different organization in the past where he thought he got out too far ahead of the board of directors. And he has learned that lesson. He says it’s all about communication, communication at a very high level. “The relationship between the executive director and the board… I liken it to a dance. Sometimes you have to lead and sometimes you have to follow. And you try not to step on each other’s feet,” Dave added.
Investing Time to Effectively Manage a Volunteer Board
Invest time with the board, your officers, the subcommittees, and activities of the board and build good relationships with the group and individually. Attend committee meetings and be part of those conversations.
Recruiting and Vetting Potential Board Members
It is good to establish a process for vetting prospects. Look for potential members who have a passion for and belief in your vision and mission. Diversity among members is also as important. Dave says that the more you can achieve a real nice mix and variety of people, the richer the conversation and the bigger the benefit for the organization is. You also want people who have some influence, people who are connectors and ideally someone who is close to the population you are serving. And for qualified people whose reasons for joining the board is still unclear to you, suggest they be involved in a subcommittee first. When you see how engaged they are, you may want to consider them for the governing board at some point in the future.