Accelerating the Future of Board Leadership: Strategies for Engaging NextGen Leaders Now

Jan 24, 2011 3:00 PM ET

Board Life Matters posted by Emily Heard

On November 10-11, 2010, BoardSource held its annual conference, the BoardSource Leadership Forum, in San Francisco. One session focused on “Accelerating the Future of Board Leadership: Strategies for Engaging Next Gen Leaders Now.”

A distinguished panel set the scene. It featured Marcus Chung, board member, Net Impact; Maya Enista, CEO,; Helen S. Kim, consultant and co-author, Working Across Generations: Defining the Future of Nonprofit Leadership; and Liz Cutler Maw, executive director, Net Impact.   The participants then formed groups, each assuming the perspective of a particular stakeholder group (board chairs, governance committee, board members, chief executives, NextGen leaders) to consider the following question: How can your stakeholder group accelerate the recruitment of and engagement of young leaders (roughly defined as leaders under age 40) on boards?   Here are some of the ideas generated by the participants:   Board Chairs How can board chairs accelerate the recruitment of and engagement of young leaders on boards?
  1. Partner with the chief executive and governance committee to create a plan to diversify the board.

  2. Help identify prospective board members by turning to sources such as educational programs (e.g., MBA programs) that promote board leadership.

  3. Identify and remove any barriers to engaging young leaders on the board.

  4. Create a comfortable space and atmosphere of respect. Encourage robust conversations and welcome new ideas from younger board members or Board Fellows. [NOTE: Board Fellows programs are often associated with universities and place interested students on nonprofit boards for one-year fellowships. Net Impact ( chapters have such programs.]

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