Take Stock in Children Palm Beach Executive Director Nancy Stellway
Should governance at a nonprofit organization be different from a corporation like Microsoft, Amazon, or PepsiCo? The reality is that, aside from shareholder profits, organizations focused on social good actually need to consider many of the same issues faced by profit-focused corporations. As Martin Lipton pointed out in a recent interview, even for-profit companies were created in part to benefit the communities where they operated.
CorpGov recently interviewed Nancy Stellway, Executive Director of Take Stock in Children Palm Beach, which helps low-income students break the cycle of poverty though mentoring and scholarships. Ms. Stellway explained that her board of directors should be comprised of people who are diverse in race, age, and business background. She also advocates rotation to prevent a board from stagnating and seeks directors who are active in their local communities.
CorpGov: What are the key attributes you seek in board directors for Take Stock in Children?
Ms. Stellway: I always look for board members who are active in their community and have passion for our mission. In order to have a diverse board, professional background and skill sets are also key. It is important each member have something unique to offer to build a strong team.
CorpGov: Does it help to have directors with business experience, just as those who might be useful to a corporate board?
Ms. Stellway: Yes, we run our nonprofit as a business. Thus, it is important our board members reflect the business community.
CorpGov: How are directors elected to your board and is that approach standard among nonprofits?
Ms. Stellway: I have heard many nonprofits elect board members differently. At Take Stock in Children Palm Beach, a potential board member can be referred by another board member or the Executive Director. After the initial meeting, usually the Executive Committee will also meet with the potential member followed by inviting them to the next board meeting. It is then determined by the board whether to nominate that candidate for board membership.
CorpGov: How long should any director be on a nonprofit board and are there exceptions?
Ms. Stellway: Our bylaws state that a board member serves an initial one-year term followed by a two-year term and can be reelected for 5 terms. To prevent a stagnant board, members should rotate off the board.
CorpGov: How do you feel about board diversity? Do you value a range of ages and a variety of racial backgrounds?
Ms. Stellway: A diverse board can be a challenge, but it is our goal to ensure we represent the population we serve including race, gender, etc. Having an alumni of the program as a board member would also present a student perspective.
CorpGov: How could Take Stock in Children growth further in terms of what you provide and how many children you reach?
Ms. Stellway: Our goal is to expand our student count by 5% each year. With that said, we need to increase our revenue streams to support these students. Purchasing a student’s scholarship with $1 for $1 match further leverages our revenue.
CorpGov: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your organization and its mission?
Ms. Stellway: Take Stock in Children Palm Beach helps low-income students break the cycle of poverty through one-on-one mentoring, college readiness coaching & post-secondary retention services. Upon high school graduation, each student receives a guaranteed college scholarship. Our Board of Directors serve a crucial role in helping us grow our reach in the community to serve more at-risk students, which is why each member must have an investment in our program.
John Jannarone, Editor-in-Chief