12th Annual Nonprofit Governance Symposium

Exceptional Governance Days

Registration is now open for the 2016 Symposium - January 7 - 9, 2016


Governance is the process of overseeing and advancing a cause for the common good on behalf of the community by a legally constituted board of directors.

Did you know that San Diego County is home to more than 9,000 nonprofits, of which about 6,500 are secular charities?  Did you know that together nonprofits employ 19% of San Diego’s workforce and contribute $5.5 billion in wages to our local economy? *  We count on our nonprofits such as youth sports, social service, health clinics, hospitals, advocacy organizations, arts, culture, civic engagement, neighborhood development, housing, environmental, education, faith-based agencies and more to make our communities work.

And every one of these organizations has a volunteer board of directors.  In San Diego County, about one-quarter of us serve on boards.  We take on the responsibility of governance out of the goodness of our hearts and passion for causes that matter to us.  Most of us learn about fiduciary stewardship through doing it, and most of us do it well.  Yet while this aspect of governance is fundamentally important, it often leaves us under-utilized, passive and somewhat disengaged.  In fact, in a major national survey, board and staff members gave themselves a “B-“ on board performance.  Could we be more? 

Yes, we can!

The board is a team of informed people who work together to ensure that an organization achieves its full potential.  Boards who practice exceptional governance are unstoppable, high performing, have fewer issues with retention and engagement, and create meaningful change in their fields.  They are collaborative, identify potential issues before they become problems, and accountable to the mission, organization and community.

We can grow exceptional governance if we:

  • Understand and practice the legal obligations of effective governance
  • Embrace the “governance as leadership” aka “kaleidoscope of governance” framework
  • Develop a highly performing governance team
  • Create and maintain a positive culture and precise social architecture
  • Become advocates for our cause

University of San Diego’s 12th Annual Nonprofit Governance Symposium is dedicated to exploring with you what exceptional governance requires from its leaders and staff, what makes a high performing board, what it’s impact is, and the precise social architecture that undergirds it.  We will also examine the internal and external landscapes of partnership, human resource development, new laws, finance, and advocacy.

We will feature concrete examples of exceptional boards; leadership lessons from the field, 30 seminars that will help you become better fiduciaries, strategists and sense makers plus plenty of time to connect with colleagues from across our community.

We are excited to announce four extraordinary plenary sessions that encompass the territory of exceptional leadership

On January 8th

Presentation of 2015 Kaleidoscope Award for Exceptional Governance followed by a frank and open conversation among board members and staff about how they work, what they have learned and what makes them exceptional.

Leadership Lessons: Join our master fundraisers as they explore their journey thus far and how they see the culture of philanthropy evolving in San Diego.  Panelists may include:

  • Mary Ruth Carleton, Vice President for University Relations, San Diego State University
  • Anne Farrell, Director of Development Voices for Children San Diego
  • Steve Jennings, Executive Director Rady Children’s Hospital Foundation and Senior Vice President Rady Children’s Hospital
  • Doug Hanses, Director of Development La Jolla Playhouse  
  • Bill Littlejohn, CEO and Senior Vice President, Sharp HealthCare Foundation
  • Tim O’Malley, Vice President for University Relations, University of San Diego
  • Todd Schultz, Vice President for Institutional Advancement, San Diego Symphony
  • Mark Stuart, Foundation President, San Diego Zoo Global
  • Joe Watkins, Vice President for External Relations, Point Loma Nazarene University

On January 9th

Stand for Your Mission: The Power of Board Advocacy - You Are the Voice Your Mission Needs.  We are delighted to be joined by Board Source, Campion Foundation and our very own San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory to explore how to unleash the full potential of nonprofits to advance their missions through advocacy.

  • Sonya Campion, Co-Founder and Trustee, Campion Foundation
  • Vernetta Walker, Vice President, Programs & Chief Governance Officer, BoardSource
  • Dalouge Smith, President & CEO, San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory
  • Ernie Smith, Vice Chair of Governance, San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory Board of Directors

The Next Chapter: Chapter Two of San Diego Opera’s Journey in a New Age. The Opera is back and growing stronger every day. Hear about how our Opera’s transformation is progressing from their board president and other key board and staff.  Learn what has worked and how you can use these lessons in your own organizations.

  • Carol Lazier, Board President
  • Joe Watkins, Chair Strategic Planning Committee
  • David Bennett, General Director
  • Linda Spuck, Chair Development Committee and moderator
  • And key staff

On January 8th and 9th our seminars include…

Fiduciary seminars:

  • Financial Literacy for Nonprofit Boards
  • What Every Board Member Needs to Know about Planned Giving and Endowments
  • Understanding Your Fiduciary Duties
  • The Changing of the Guard: Executive Succession
  • New Laws Affecting Nonprofits
  • 990 Updates
  • The Board’s Role in Human Resource Systems: Your Highest Return on Investments
  • Preparing Your Board for BIG Fundraising
  • How to Think About Overhead 

Strategic seminars:

  • Thinking and Acting Strategically Inside and Outside the Boardroom
  • The Continuum of Strategic Alliances
  • Using Technology to Further Your Cause
  • Board Advocacy in Action
  • Measuring and Communicating Impact
  • Marketing Matters

Generative seminars:

  • The Magic of Dialogue and Inquiry
  • How to Avoid Group Think
  • Dealing with “The Elephant in the Room”
  • Is Your Board Ready to Diversify?
  • Building the Board of Your Dreams

Exceptional Governance seminars:

  • The Kaleidoscope of Governance
  • Inside the Kaleidoscope Award - Kids Included Together
  • Building an Exceptional Board From the Start
  • Creating High Performance Teams
  • Stand By Your Mission
  • How Creating a Positive Culture Strengthens Board Performance and Retention

Leadership and Social Architecture seminars:

  • The Value of Starting Right: Board Recruitment Through Orientation
  • The Partnership between the Board Chair and the Executive Director
  • Making Meetings Meaningful
  • Building the Board of Your Dreams

Community and Stakeholder Engagement seminars:

  • Engaging Your Community in Strategic Visioning for Your Organization
  • Stakeholder Engagement
  • The Board as Ambassador
  • How to Get the Best from Social Media
  • A New Approach to Stakeholder Engagement: Your Feasibility Study

AND on January 7th from 9:00-12:30 join Liz Shear to tour two Kaleidoscope Award Winning Boards for an insider’s view of what makes an exceptional board tick.  Space is limited.

Hope to see you there!

*  San Diego State of Nonprofits, 2014, Caster Family Center for Nonprofit and   Philanthropic Research, University of San Diego.

** 2014 Governance Index: Leading with Intent, BoardSource. 

Be sure to check out the most up to date session materials on the Session Descriptions and Materials page!


2016 Symposium Sponsors

USB Sponsor

CBIZ logo

Signature Sponsors

  AKT logo

San Diego Gas and Electric Logo MossAdams Logo

Lead Sponsor

Bank of America Logo

Supporting Sponsors

    Jewish Community Foundation Friday Only


YH Advisors Logo

Participating Sponsor

YNPN San Diego

Highlights from the Tenth Annual Nonprofit Governance Symposium

Beyond the Boundaries of Nonprofit Governance

Pat Libby
2014 Nonprofit Governance Symposium Friday Keynote Speaker