Leadership Lessons

November 21, 2011

I attended the White House Forum on Nonprofit Leadership last week. It was gratifying to join 200 nonprofit leaders to discuss the challenges and opportunities of better preparing, training, and sustaining the next wave of nonprofit leaders.

After a welcome and framing remarks by Jonathan Greenblatt, director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, and other dignitaries, we broke into working sessions to create actionable goals and strategies in these important areas: Advancing Diversity and Inclusion; Developing Cross-Sector Talent Pipelines; Equipping Leaders to Face Tough Challenges; Scaling Social Innovations; Catalyzing Public and Private Investments in Leadership.

The initial thoughts of the working sessions can be found here. As you can see, this is the start of a very important conversation, and the White House is asking for your ideas, too.  I invite you to weigh in on those initial thoughts, here.

While I applaud the White House for this initiative, and I am thrilled at the commitment to the sector that it represents, there was a bit of a disconnect — embodied by the proverbial elephant in the room (or donkey — it’s an equal opportunity disconnect). No one mentioned the fact that government funding for the sector is on the chopping block, as is the charitable donation deduction. Whether or not we develop better leaders will be somewhat irrelevant if thousands of hardworking nonprofits, already fighting for survival, are swept up in the crossfire of political infighting and tradeoffs. When will it end?

Great leadership is needed—all over.

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