NLN7: Nonprofit Collaborations with Margot Knight

margot knight headshot2In this episode Margot H. Knight, Executive Director of Djerassi Resident Artists Program, shares about collaboration, sabbaticals, and learning as you go.

Margot considers herself to be the luckiest woman in the arts world. After 35 years and six jobs in the arts and humanities, she now lives and works on a mountain south of San Francisco surrounded by artists and redwoods and earth and sky at one of the foremost artist residency programs in the world. Since 2011 she has served as the Executive Director of Djerassi Resident Artists Program.

The Djerassi Resident Artists Program is in its 36th year. They were founded by, and for the first 15 years nurtured by, a private family foundation through Carl Djerassi who had a 1200-acre cattle ranch in the ‘60s. His daughter was an artist. She built a house on the property and in 1978, she killed herself. Carl’s response was to take a piece of the property and turn it into a place to nourish living artists in his daughter’s honor.

Here are some highlights from the show:

Focus on What You Have in Common – Let’s not look at what divides us, let’s look at the things that we share and what we are trying to do with our missions and work to expand those ways in which we can work together.

Collaboration: You Don’t Need Permission – If you do not feel like you are powerful enough that people will say yes to your invitation, do a smaller invitation at first and then expand the circle and expand the circle and expand the circle and take that all information as good approach.

Collaboration: Take Time to Build Consensus – To start, I like to have a conversation that does not rush to decision too quick. I like to hear from anybody: what is the problem, what do you see as happening with you and your organization? So what, what does that mean? What impact that is having on your organization, good, bad, indifferent? How do you feel about it? Now what can we do?  The biggest mistake we make is rushing to the decision part too quickly. Everybody has got to be able to talk. If you go through this process you are getting pushed up the hill backwards rather than trying to drag everyone along with you.

Whispers, If Not Attended To, Can Become Big Problems – Every problem you have is a whisper you ignored.

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