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Nonprofit Governance Symposium Serves Valuable Purpose

From the initial welcoming words of University of San Diego President James T. Harris III, DEd, to the last discussion points shared in one of the final workshops, titled, “It’s Not About You: Putting Group Identity First in Leadership,” and many points in between, the 15th annual Nonprofit Governance Symposium left many people happy about their participation and eager to put information they learned into action.

2019 NPI-Governance

The Nonprofit Institute, housed within USD’s School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES), celebrated a milestone year and continued its strong support for the local, national and international nonprofit community at one of its biggest events of the year.

Supported by Union Bank, California Bank and Trust and host of other sponsors, nonprofit organizations of all sizes and experience levels, came together Jan. 24-25 in the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice to gain new and successful insight to think, act and give their respective boards and board members ideas to work smarter to reach the goals of their intended missions.

Participants ranged from organizations who support Native Americans, senior citizens, nutritious food for children, military members in transition, and educational opportunities for underserved populations.

Three nonprofits — the Karen Organization of San Diego, Mama’s Kitchen and San Diego Zoo Global — were feted with a 2018 Kaleidoscope Award for Good Governance. Kathy Patoff, MUFG Union Bank Foundation’s COO, introduced the award winners, stating that while their organizations are of different sizes, and unique in what they work on, each board promotes best practices through three lenses: fiduciary, strategic and generative governance.

“San Diego Zoo Global has been coming to this symposium for over eight years now and every time we bring something back that changes us, changes how the board acts and how we work together,” said Douglas G. Meyers, San Diego Zoo Global CEO and President, upon accepting the Kaleidoscope Award.

Something else on display throughout were opportunities for current USD graduate students to give presentations and run workshops individually and alongside community nonprofit field experts. Take for instance, Yang Jiang, a PhD candidate in SOLES’ Leadership Studies program and also a graduate research assistant at USD’s Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education. Jiang led a workshop session both days explaining how leadership and group identity are connected. She provided participants with an opportunity to explore how they can tap into the power of group identity in their own leadership.

The symposium seemingly had all bases covered to offer good advice and practical ideas to help nonprofit boards, which play such a pivotal role to ensure an organization’s ability to fulfill its mission. USD’s Nonprofit Institute Executive Director Emily Young and Associate Director Laura Deitrick each provided insight to issues facing nonprofit communities, too. Young spoke on the preliminary examination of research one year in from the 2017 tax bill and Deitrick shared key trends and used data from the USD institute’s 2018 State of Nonprofits annual report.

Furthermore, organizations throughout San Diego had table space within the IPJ Rotunda to share their mission with all symposium attendees and it was one of several opportunities for the nonprofit sector to network and learn from each other.

“You look at the nonprofit sector and it plays a vital role in our society,” Young said prior to the symposium. “There are nonprofits, government and the for-profit sectors. Nonprofits typically take on the issues that the government and business don’t or can’t. Nonprofits play a vital role and on top of that, they have citizens who are governing these nonprofits to provide a level of accountability and partnership to ensure that these organizations are meeting their mission. We really feel that’s a very important contribution to a more broadly democracy in a really well functioning society.”

— Ryan T. Blystone

Photos in the slideshow are by Ryan T. Blystone and the Nonprofit Institute. Video produced by the Nonprofit Institute.

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