The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about many unwelcomed changes. People are dying at rates much higher than expected, and the Black Community, as always, is being hit harder than most. We are sheltering in place (translation: on international lockdown); putting a premium on personal hygiene and cleanliness; canceling events; closing government offices, except for essential functions; working from home and traveling only when absolutely necessary. Schools are closed. Churches are holding virtual services. Some businesses are laying off employees, with the potential of shutting down.

I believe we are in the midst of a revolution of sorts, and our lives…

In academia, there are very strict rules regarding citing sources of information. Not only does it help to know where the information comes from for the purposes of clarity, consistency and accuracy, but, enforcement of the rules ensures that we give credit where credit is due; minimizes plagiarism and keeps us honest.

We need to be just as careful in or churches and community-based organizations and with elected officials and other influencers. Over the years, I’ve seen leaders in these arenas take credit for work they didn’t do, in one form or fashion. Some of these actions are unintentional and…

You are the newly-hired executive director of a community-based youth agency with a budget of $350,000. In this capacity, you would have 8 employees, including an administrative assistant, 2 program directors, a business manager and 4 case workers. You have a master of social work degree, and have recently served as the associate executive director of a citywide youth program with a one million dollar budget and 40 employees.

The board of directors of your former agency was well on its way to becoming institutionalized. The board consisted of a number of up-andcoming civic leaders. For the most part, they…

Photo: Tug of War Monument Wismar by falco from Pixabay

We read textbooks, scholarly journals and articles on best practices for collaboration, touting the benefits in great detail, and barely glossing over the down sides of collaboration. The “real deal” is often messy, and no one wants to be the one who shares all the gory details, for a number of reasons. As a result, many of us go into collaborations wide eyed and bushy-tailed, not knowing the dangers that lurk within. …

Photo By Pretty Sleepy One at Pixabay

Don’t take away my Black card during Black History Month. Before you read what I wrote below, you should also know that I am one who has experienced and fought racism and discrimination in the workplace. I won some battles and I have lost some.

It occurred to me, that as we demand diversity, equity and inclusion from others, we need to do the same in our own communities. We are guilty of excluding people from our own churches, communities and organizations based on gender, class, cliques, partisan politics and personal agendas, to the detriment of progress. This is not…

When I read the first edition of John Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership back in the late 1990’s, I was impressed by the fact that it was an easy read, and chock full of lessons on every page. Now that we in the Nonprofit Utopia community are “reading” the 10th Edition of the book through audio, I am amazed at how the book is touching my heart — so much so, that after just 2 chapters, I have been moved to do some serious introspection, prayer and soul searching–with an intent to do better. …

The terms “programs” and “services” are so often used together, that we don’t often take the time to think about the subtle differences between the two. It doesn’t help that the terms are used interchangeably, either. Though the differences are subtle, the result of using the terms appropriately in a funding proposal is often not so nuanced. If we are not able to articulate the impact to clients and communities as a result of our activities, we are very unlikely to get funding. …

This is an original case study written by Valerie F. Leonard as an exercise in board development and training.

You joined the board of directors of a community development organization 6 months ago. The organization is the faith-based affiliate of a local church. A total of 4 of the 11 board members are members of the church, including the pastor, the chairman of the board of deacons, the head of the women’s auxiliary, and the chairman of the church’s board of directors.

The founding board chairman is also the founding pastor of the church that started the community development organization…

Image: Expensepoint.com

There’s a lot to be said for effective time management to help us get the most out of our days. Some recommend setting daily goals and assessing how much was achieved at the end of each day. However, we don’t always think about the role of streamlining processes in time management and cost savings.

I can remember when I worked as a financial analyst for the Chief Financial Officer at Mount Sinai Hospital here in Chicago. He was tasked with working with the Chief Operating Officer to take the entire Mount Sinai Health System through a total quality management process…

I’ve seen it time and time again at the community level. Leaders pushing a community- driven agenda are often betrayed by members of their inner circle, who were promised “great things” for themselves in exchange for undermining community progress. In some cases, the people who sell out do go on to make names for themselves; often taking credit for work they didn’t do, and conveniently forgetting to acknowledge the very people they betrayed in order to gain position. They soon learn that these perks are more costly than they’d ever imagined; having more money but very little power and influence…

Valerie F. Leonard

Founder, Nonprofit Utopia, the ideal community for emerging nonprofit leaders. Join @ https://nonprofitutopia.mn.co. Podcaster. Nonprofit Management Instructor.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store