Institute of Nonprofit Education and Research Awards Two Nonprofits the Kaleidoscope Award for Exceptional Governance

Voices for Children and the Ocean Discovery Institute have been recognized for exceptional governance by the Institute of Nonprofit Education and Research in the School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES) at the University of San Diego (USD). The Kaleidoscope Award for Exceptional Governance recognizes, celebrates, promotes and inspires excellence in nonprofit governance.

Like a kaleidoscope, the work of nonprofit governance is intricate, varied, and involves viewing the organization through a variety of lenses. Exceptional governance requires precision, imagination, and principled and adept decision-making by skilled leaders.

Governance and leadership are inexorably linked. Governance is a legally constituted group of people who together, advance, guide and oversee an organization on behalf of the community and for the common good. Leadership is the act of facilitating a group of people who together, solve complex problems and create a common approach to the future. In the case of governance, the best leaders practice oversight, foresight and insight. They know their governance role, thus work in partnership with key staff. They are passionate, engaged and synergistic. They add great value to the cause.

“When we look for the USD Kaleidoscope Award for Exceptional Governance winners, we are looking for sound boards who not only take excellent care of their fiduciary assets, but go much further” says Liz Shear Director of the Nonprofit Governance Symposium and faculty in the Nonprofit Leadership Masters Program at USD. “Not only do they have a palpable sense of community and personal engagement, but they are willing and able to make sense of complicated situations and act from a broad perspective of what is best for the organization and the community. They are open—they learn from their mistakes and use the lessons to improve their work. When you meet with them, you can see and feel their pride, their passion and their teamwork. Organizational and board size, age, prestige are irrelevant, it is the quality of work that matters.”

This year the committee selected two organizations as recipients of the award, Ocean Discovery Institute and Voices for Children. “They are very different organizations, but their boards lead with excellence” says Mary McDonald. “They are intuitive, creative and brave with a passion for what they are doing. Each board demonstrated the ability to make hard decisions and invite change. They asked who are we? and who do we want to be? and then made it happen.” The Ocean Discovery Institute created opportunity for replication of a model they developed in an entirely different location. The board of Voices for Children made the decision to reposition their development efforts to raise additional funds and increase awareness of its mission to provide volunteer advocates to foster children in San Diego County

To be considered for an award, organizations are nominated by individuals or other organizations. In addition to an interview and site visit, they complete an application consisting of organizational documents such as current strategic and board development plans, articles of incorporation, board committee and member job descriptions, and information on how they evaluate their results. Award decisions are made by the Kaleidoscope Award Committee: Mary McDonald, Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Committee Chair; Janine Mason, Executive Director of the Fieldstone Foundation and Founder of the Kaleidoscope Award, Edith Glassey, M.A., Promises2Kids; Don Stump, M.A., North County Lifeline; Paul Van Dolah, Van Dolah and Associates; and Liz Shear, M.A., Director of the Nonprofit Governance Symposium.

The winners are recognized with an award and cash prize at the Ninth Annual Nonprofit Governance Symposium, to be held on Friday, January 11, 2014, and participate in a short panel discussion followed by a reception in their honor.

Past award winners are:
Casa de Amparo (2007)
Home of Guiding Hands (2007)
San Diego Jewish Community Foundation (2007)

Chicano Federation of San Diego, Inc. (2008)
San Diego Hospice and Palliative Care (2008)

San Diego Jewish Academy (2009)
Volunteers of America of Southwest California (2009)

United Through Reading (2010)

San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory (2011)

Girl Scouts San Diego (2012)

The School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES) houses academic departments, centers and institutes within Mother Rosalie Hill Hall at the University of San Diego. The nationally-accredited, innovative and vibrant programs offered within SOLES are led by an administrative team, faculty and participatory advisory boards for the school and centers.
The University of San Diego (USD) is a Catholic institution of higher learning committed to teaching, the liberal arts, the formation of values and the creation of ethical leaders. Chartered in 1949, the school enrolls approximately 7,800 undergraduate and graduate full-time equivalent students. USD has a long history of public service and was recently recognized as a Changemaker Campus by Ashoka, the global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs. The university’s eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the schools of Business Administration, Law, Leadership and Education Sciences, Nursing and Health Sciences, Peace, the Department of Engineering, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education.

The mission of Ocean Discovery Institute is to engage, educate, and inspire young people from urban and diverse backgrounds through science-based exploration of the ocean and nature, preparing them to be tomorrow’s scientific and environmental leaders. Their vision is to empower young people from urban and diverse backgrounds to protect our ocean and natural environment, improve the health of our communities, and strengthen the quality of life in our world. To learn more about Ocean Discovery Institute and how you can get involved, visit or call (858) 488-3849.

Since 1980, Voices for Children has advocated for the rights and well-being of San Diego County’s 5,100 foster children in the courtroom, in school, and in the community, primarily through its Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program. VFC’s mission is to transform the lives of abused, neglected, or abandoned children who have been taken into foster care for their own safety. By monitoring their court cases and by the advocacy of trained volunteer CASAs, VFC ensures that the best interests of each foster child are met—in court, in schools, and in the community. VFC is the only agency designated by the courts to provide these volunteer advocates. In FY2013-2014, 1,276 San Diego volunteers will serve as CASAs and 2,169 children will have the powerful one-on-one advocacy of a CASA. Moreover, every one of the 5,100 court files in the system will be reviewed and triaged by VFC staff and trained volunteers. VFC operates with a budget of $5 million, 97% of which comes from private donors. Individuals from throughout San Diego County can become a CASA for a foster child, and no special background is required – just the sincere desire to help a child. After 35 hours of free classroom and online training, the average amount of time needed for CASA service is only 10-15 hours per month. For more information, visit or call or email Jennifer Morrissey at (858) 598-2213, or


Devon Foster
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