The dynamics of a board/staff member relationship can bring about potential for conflict of interest, a threat to management, lobbying for change, etc. Those are some of the negatives that can result and may be the reason people shy away from friendships in this situation.
In the case of small nonprofits though, I think it’s important to forge relationships around the mission of the organization and go from there. As a staff member at one nonprofit and a board member for another, I have been fortunate to get to know some wonderful, interesting people.
Lynne Wiercinski has been on the GLCYD board for three years. She works at the Ironwood Carnegie Library and is devoted to the young people in her community. She has provided so much information, support and inspiration to me in sharing the common goal of providing a strong, healthy environment for our youth. I enjoy the childlike whimsy of her personality and am able to understand why the children and teenagers connect with her. We have worked together to provide a youth summit for students in Gogebic and Ontonagon County schools and they are completing the Attitudes & Behavior and Sidebar Surveys this week for the first time since 2008. Her input and convening skills played a big part in this happening. I am proud to call her my friend.
As a board member for the Youth & Family Center at Lake Superior Village, I find myself learning more and more about that role in supporting new leadership. Kelsey Roy is the program director at the center and she is providing structure and activities for the young people who spend time there. She works hard to make it a place where youth want to hang out and considers their perspective and asks them to be part of everything and to take pride in their “hangout”. Kelsey has great energy and we are learning a lot together. I plan to “volunteer” as a board member at upcoming events this summer just so I can watch her in action. I am proud to call her my friend.
It begins with a mission and becomes a connection!