As a part of the Junior League of New Orleans’ commitment to the community, advancing the wellbeing of women and making life better for all New Orleanians, JLNO offers training for participants interested in becoming involved with local nonprofits through membership and leadership roles. Get on Board is a two-day workshop providing knowledge and skills to current board and staff members and those that wish to be placed on a nonprofit board at the conclusion of the training. Through engaging presentations from nonprofit experts and interactive role-playing, participants learn a board member’s responsibilities and how these responsibilities relate to others within the organization.
There is a pervasive need for quality board members among New Orleans’ nonprofits. However, board membership is a mystery to most. Many times people want to get involved in nonprofits and take on board roles but are not sure how to do so and or what to do to take the first step toward getting involved. GOB is designed to train its participants for active leadership roles on boards for nonprofits and introduce its participants to nonprofits in need of quality leadership and involvement.
GOB serves as a vital first step for many getting involved in the community in a broader way and using their tools to serve on committees and boards for local nonprofits. Many have participated and have used their training to make positive impacts on the community and build their personal and professional skills.
To highlight just a few, JLNO Active Dreda Smith, Michael Plaisance and JLNO Active Amanda Gammon are among the GOB alumni succeeding and using their resources and tools in local nonprofits.
Dreda Smith: Get on Board Participant
“After completing GOB, I had confidence that I could serve on a board in a meaningful way.”
Dreda first heard about GOB at a general membership meeting and signed up right away. Dreda was drawn to the training GOB offered, partnered with the opportunity to meet and become acquainted with local nonprofits in search of potential board members.
GOB has many benefits for its participants and each participant gains something different from the experience. As an attorney, Dreda found the portion of the program discussing conflicts of interest and involvement as an attorney versus being the Board’s attorney critical to her involvement on a board.
One of the benefits that most GOB participants enjoy and prosper from is the ability to connect with local nonprofits looking for board members and volunteers to join their organization. For example, the program allows local nonprofits to come meet GOB participants during a mixer on the first Saturday of the program. The mixer provides participants with the opportunity to learn about the different nonprofits and to determine which nonprofit would be a good fit. According to Dreda, “I’ve felt more comfortable approaching nonprofits as a result of my training with GOB because I have a general understanding of what board involvement means as well as what is expected of me as a board member.”
Dreda was nominated to the board of the Woodlands Conservancy, which is a local land trust managing bottomland hardwood forest in Orleans and Plaquemines Parish. Her current position is secretary, a position she has held for the past two years. “There are no specific times in which I feel I’ve used some discrete aspect of my GOB training; however, I feel that it has positively impacted every aspect of my involvement with Woodlands Conservancy,” Dreda said. “I am able to serve the board as well as I can because of Get on Board.”
GOB is just another way that JLNO enriches its members and promotes positive, community involvement. GOB trains its participants to be strong civic stewards and use their resources and strengths to benefit the community. This training benefits its participants both professionally and personally. The presenters are highly qualified providing quality instruction and excellent materials to utilize throughout your future on boards and in your professional world.
Dreda has found being on a board and involved in a nonprofit has benefited her both professionally and personally. “Being on the board of the Woodlands Conservancy has allowed me to develop my community involvement. As a member of the Junior League, I volunteer for League events and with organizations for my community shifts; however, I also wanted to get involved with an organization on a regular basis so I could see projects to fruition. I’ve met some wonderful people through the Woodlands Conservancy including my fellow board members and members of the community,” said Dreda.
Photo provided by: Michael Plaisance
Michael Plaisance: Get on Board Participant
“I have recommended GOB to everyone I meet who expresses an interest in board service. I have found the experience invaluable.”
Michael first heard about GOB from his wife, JLNO Active Allison Plaisance, a former Board member. She suggested that he participate in GOB because not only does it train its participants to be active board members, but is also a program that matches its participants with local nonprofits looking for volunteers.
Michael found GOB to be a well-rounded program and extremely beneficial. GOB has a lot of great topics and training opportunities. “My two favorite topics were the lectures on strategic planning and fundraising,” Michael said.
Through GOB, Michael was paired with his top choice, Reconcile New Orleans. Michael credits Alice Wright, a past JLNO President and member of the Reconcile New Orleans Board, with connecting JLNO and the nonprofit and thinks the connection was instrumental. Michael is in his second term on Reconcile New Orleans Board. He is also the Governance Committee chairperson.
Michael still uses his GOB training to navigate the various duties and responsibilities of serving on a board. Michael stated, “…each meeting I attend seems to provide an opportunity to call upon my GOB training. From the purpose and structure of committees to mission creep to effective strategic planning.”
Michael said that being on the board for a nonprofit has been beneficial both professionally and personally. “Community service was a foundational tenet of the Jesuit colleges that I attended,” Michael said. “As a professional, balancing work and family with community service is challenging but rewarding.”
GOB training has extended beyond his service at Reconcile New Orleans. “Since joining Reconcile New Orleans, I was also given opportunity to serve on the board of the Louisiana Fire Soccer Club – another nonprofit,” Michael said. “While my time on that board was brief, the universality of the GOB training proved its worth again during my time in service to that organization. Both experiences were rewarding, but I don’t think I would have been as effective as a board member without the GOB training.”
Photo provided by: Amanda Gammon
Amanda Gammon: Get on Board Participant
“GOB provided me with the tools to step out of my comfort zone and become more involved in a leadership capacity through a local nonprofit.”
Amanda recently attended GOB at the recommendation of other JLNO members who said that it was a helpful way to learn about board involvement. Amanda also favored the idea of being able to meet with local nonprofits searching for new board members and members in general. For Amanda, GOB allowed her to learn about the various commitments, responsibilities and obligations that come along with being a board member, which is an area she was not otherwise familiar with before attending the training.
Through the nonprofit mixer, Amanda was introduced to the American Cancer Society’s Friends of Hope Lodge. This nonprofit was specifically looking for committee members to assist in planning the annual gala, the organization’s largest local fundraiser with proceeds going to Hope Lodge, a service of the American Cancer Society that offers cancer patients and their caregivers a free place to stay when their best treatment options are in another city from their home. Learning more about the organization and its mission, Amanda was fully committed to joining the effort. “This was my first experience learning about boards and serving on a board for local nonprofits. After meeting with ACS and hearing about their need for various committee members, I knew I had to get on board.”
Amanda was asked to participate in the auction committee and has served in this capacity for one year. In her role on the auction committee, Amanda was tasked with going out into the local community and talking with local businesses to gain donated auction items for the annual gala. “Being on the committee has benefited me in that it allowed me to go out into the community, meet new people, connect with local businesses, and rally the community around supporting ACS.” Amanda credits her newfound initiative with the training she received through GOB and looks forward to her continuing service.