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)

On the Blackbird board, the news, education, finance and food service sectors are represented, but the group recently formed a committee to recruit new members and should “evaluate over the summer what holes we have,” Strange said. 

Currently, all eight of Blackbird’s board members live in Conway, so the group might branch out and recruit from elsewhere in Arkansas, she said. Additionally, the organization wants to add board members to increase its leadership team from eight to 12.

On the other hand, Heifer started its farm animal gift-giving work in the 1940s and has had time to systematize its board development process.

Smith, the organization’s board chair, called the current 19-member board “mature.”
Among the international organization’s deliberate purposes when recruiting new board members is to keep the board globally and regionally diverse so it maintains a variety of leadership perspectives.

This year, for example, Heifer’s board member from Asia will leave due to term limits, so finding a replacement from Asia is a priority, Smith said.

“Really good board recruitment is a personal thing,” Meincke, with ACE, said. “You know people; they help you find the best board members. It’s not something you want to do blind. It’s all about networking.”

Why They Volunteer

Rossi, who is vice president of the Arkansas Foodbank board, offered insight into why she dedicates her time to six annual food bank board meetings, additional committee meetings and takes responsibility for guiding the organization.

“I’m mission driven as an individual. If the mission of an organization isn’t something that I wholeheartedly support, I wouldn’t be part of it,” Rossi said. “I think my experience over the years in nonprofits makes me a good candidate for a board. … I think it’s something I do well, and, like most people, you like to use the skills you do best.”

The Arkansas governor appoints the members of the UA System board, including two representatives from each of the four congressional districts and two at-large members. Akin, who has been a trustee for nine years, attends the board’s five regular meetings, as well as as-needed meetings. He said the time obligation is about 20 hours per month.

“It’s quite a commitment, but at the end of the day, it’s an honor to serve,” Akin said.

Kim’s 11-year-old son’s interest in dance first got him involved in Ballet Arkansas.



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