Get on Board, the Junior League of New Orleans’s (JLNO) annual training program, is set to take place February 2021. The one-day event focuses on the rules, procedures and ethics common to serving as a board member, and is likely already familiar to the many League members and members of the community who currently serve on the executive boards of local organizations. 2021’s iteration will look a little different, according to the Get On Board Committee Co-Chairs, Tara Waldron and Vanessa Berg.

The program’s content will remain the same, with attendees learning more about the financial, legal and managerial responsibilities board members of nonprofits assume. These lessons are delivered through dynamic and engaging presentations from speakers the Get On Board Committee invites to participate due to their leadership within the city and nonprofit management. According to Tara, speakers at the event in the past have chosen to highlight, “potential pitfalls, red flags and education tools to be more productive and efficient.” 

The program is designed for participants who are “motivated and want to be involved in a community, but perhaps aren’t sure how to get started or want to improve their board participation,” says Vanessa. She adds that the ideal candidate for Get On Board’s training is someone who, “cares about New Orleans and wants to improve themselves and the city.” Participants are not required to be members of a nonprofit board to attend. In fact, part of the award-winning program’s purpose is to provide opportunities for graduates and organizations to connect and collaborate. “It’s a good way to get a foot in the door,” says Vanessa, whose first involvement with the program was as an attendee who had just moved to New Orleans. “It helps the average person in the community get involved effectively, understand what to expect of themselves and what they can expect of the people around them when joining a board,” adds Tara.

Until now, JLNO’s Get On Board has been a unique offering with a local draw. This year, because of the impacts of COVID-19, the training program will be delivered as a hybrid event, with some participants attending in person at JLNO’s headquarters and some participating remotely via video conferencing software. Tara and Vanessa recognize this new model as an opportunity for the program’s message to reach a larger and more diverse audience than it has previously. They’re hoping that the event gets noticed by other leagues in Louisiana and possibly other states to expand its impact and benefit JLNO and the event sponsors.

The program’s ultimate goal is to take a person’s existing impulse for volunteerism and channel it into the ability to be an effective and responsible steward of positive change. A wider reach for JLNO’s Get On Board potentially means better outcomes not just for nonprofits, but for entire communities.