By LOIE UNWIN, EFCL board development officer
Oct. 7, 2015 – I had the pleasure of attending the Board Governance: Emergent Thinking 2015 Conference this past weekend. Put on by Board Leadership Edmonton, this event was designed to provide attendees an opportunity to learn about and discuss the latest thinking and practical tools to help boards and board members lead their organizations. Held at MacEwan University – Robbins Health Learning Centre, we were treated to a full day of very participatory sessions.
The highlight was the Keynote speaker, Ruth McCambridge, who is the Editor in Chief of the Non-profit Quarterly magazine and based in Boston. She brought her 45 years of experience to both her keynote and the session she delivered. Ruth provided both practical solutions and thought provoking insight to her presentations.
Ruth’s morning session was about the Cycles of Board Leadership. She talked about the various stages of an organization – starting with the Founding or Founder stage. At this point there is enormous enthusiasm from a small group. Everyone is involved and active, focused on the vision and mission of the organization. The next stages of Directive and Delegation are shifts in the way the organizations operate and require the Board to adapt their way of leading. S spoke about boards having to be sophisticated enough to recognize how they are operating and avoid huge swings in style. The question I was left with is how do we, as board members, recognize and acknowledge the signs of potential dysfunction?
In the afternoon, I attended a session facilitated by Kristen Ward-Diaz, a community development officer with Alberta Culture and Tourism. I’ve had the pleasure of attending other sessions with Kristen and really enjoy her style. She had us up and moving and actually collaborating! There was nothing dry about her presentation – it was wonderfully practical. Collaboration on paper seems quite simple, but we were tasked with collaborating, to develop a plan, with two or three others – complete strangers to us. It was really challenging.
The conference gave me a chance to meet people from all kinds of organizations (including a community league by the way) and share challenges and successes. There were board members and staff from a variety of organizations, each with their own stories to tell and challenges they are facing. What we had in common was the desire to move our organizations forward effectively.
As a board member on two non-profits and in my role as board development director for the EFCL, this day was just the kind of learning I like. Practical, useful, interactive and challenging. This was a day well spent for all who attended and an exciting way to end my first week with EFCL.