Nonprofit Boards in Arkansas Give Leadership

by Kate Knable  on Monday, Jul. 2, 2012 12:00 am  

CEO Phyllis Haynes stands near the fruit of the Arkansas Foodbank's board-led capital campaign: a new, nearly $11 million distribution center in Little Rock. (Photo by Mike Pirnique)

The board’s job is to promote the professional ballet company, follow the laws governing nonprofits, steward its finances, function as its ambassadors to the state and work to grow its budget and performance schedule, Kim said.

“We try to make every effort not only to follow the law, but also good business practice, good ethical conduct,” he said.

The University of Arkansas System is not for profit, and it, too, has an unpaid board that oversees it.

Mike Akin of Monticello is an Arkansas businessman and the chairman of the UA System’s board of trustees.

The UA System board has, generally, a twofold responsibility: to ensure the taxpayers get a good value and to hire the system president, Akin said.

Arkansas Foodbank CEO Phyllis Haynes said her organization’s board is responsible for providing oversight and financial support to cover operating costs.

“First and foremost, they set policy. And they set and review policy by engaging in a strategic planning process. They are fiducially responsible, which means, ultimately, the buck stops there,” Haynes said. “In addition to that, we expect our board members to be involved in advocating our cause in the community. … We ask each board person to make a personal [financial] contribution.”

An Evolving Structure

Meincke, with ACE, said nonprofit boards evolve over time. A new organization will typically have a founder or founders who start small and recruit their friends and acquaintances to be board members. As the organization grows and adds staff, its leadership looks to recruit board members with certain expertise, such as resource development, access to people able to donate money and backgrounds in finance or law, she said.

As its budget increases and the breadth of its work grows, what the organization needs or prioritizes in a board also can change.

For example, Blackbird Academy of Arts founder Jennie Strange is leading a 3-year-old arts education organization.

“Ideally, I wanted a board from a lot of different sectors because they reach out to completely different communities, have different friends … and bring a different perspective on what the community needs,” Strange said.



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