Executive Director Fundamentals: Setting Up for Success

Sponsored by the Greater New Orleans Foundation’s Organizational Effectiveness Initiative in partnership with CompassPoint Nonprofit Services.

The 2017 Executive Director Fundamentals has passed. Please email Rachel Swan to be placed on the notification list for the next cohort.

The job of an executive director is challenging even for the most experienced executives, but for someone new to the position, it can be especially overwhelming. As Executive Directors, how do we powerfully lead our organizations while facing complex leadership challenges?  How do we align our organizations, staff and board around impact as we struggle to achieve financial sustainability? As daunting as these questions can seem, they are fundamental executive leadership responsibilities. CompassPoint, in tandem with the Greater New Orleans Foundation, will lead a session exclusively for Executive Directors that combines expert instruction and peer-learning to tackle these issues.

2017 Schedule

Executive Director Fundamentals: Setting Up for Success 2017 will take place from Monday, January 23-Wednesday, January 25, 2017.

Program Overview

This three day program will be led by CompassPoint’s CEO, Jeanne Bell and Senior Project Director, Marla Cornelius. They will draw on CompassPoint’s frameworks and research, their extensive work developing and coaching nonprofit leaders, and upon the collective wisdom of the participants to create a powerful space for you to think creatively, try on new ideas, and identify action steps to powerfully lead yourself and your organization.

Target Audience

Executive Directors new to their job (less than three years) or first time executives new to the position.

Learning Objectives

  • Leadership and Management – Balancing and understanding the leadership and management needs of a nonprofit
  • Performance Management – Performance management infrastructure; roles in performance management; supervision framework
  • Sustainability: Linking Strategy and Finance – Understanding strategy formation processes and their role in organizational sustainability planning;     overview of key financial management concepts and the principles of financial leadership
  • Fundraising – Fundraising strategies, tools and planning; building a culture of philanthropy
  • Boards & Governance – The role and responsibilities of the board; managing the relationship with the board


Jeanne-BellJeanne Bell, MNA is the CEO of CompassPoint Nonprofit Services—a national, nonprofit leadership and strategy practice headquartered in Oakland, CA. She is the co-author of three nonprofit management books including most recently,The Sustainability Mindset: Using the Matrix Map to Make Strategic Decisions(Jossey-Bass). In addition to frequent speaking and consulting on nonprofit strategy and finance, Jeanne has conducted a series of research projects on nonprofit executive leadership, including UnderDeveloped: A National Study of the Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising and Daring to Lead 2011: A National Study of Nonprofit Executive Leadership. Jeanne currently serves on several boards: The Nonprofit Quarterly, the Nonprofits Insurance Alliance of California (NIAC), and Intersection for the Arts

Marla CorneliusMarla Cornelius, MNA, Senior Project Director at CompassPoint Nonprofit Services.  Marla developed and manages several of CompassPoint’s nonprofit management and leadership programs and research projects. She co-authored the national research report UnderDeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising (2013). She also led the development of the studies Ready to Lead? Next Generation Leaders Speak Out (2008) and Daring to Lead 2011: A National Study of Nonprofit Executive Leadership. Marla is one of the lead trainers for the Emerging Executive Director Intensive and Emerging Leaders program led by Organizational Effectiveness.


The Executive Director Fundamentals: Setting Up for Success will take place over three all-day sessions from Monday, January 23-Wednesday, January 25, 2016. Participants need to be available for all three days to fully complete the bootcamp. This leadership training opportunity is best suited for those executive directors who have been in their positions three years or less.


The 2017 Executive Director Fundamentals is currently full. Please email Rachel Swan to be placed on the waitlist should space open up. Space is limited. Applications are accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis until the class is full and is subject to approval by the OE staff. Payment is due at promptly upon acceptance into the cohort.

Please note, we never want money to be the reason you can’t attend the Executive Director Fundamentals: Setting Up for Success. We have a small pool of funds available to partially offset the program costs for qualified participants. Please email Joann Ricci (joann@gnof.org) with the subject line “Executive Director Fundamentals-Scholarship-Your Name” to share if the fee would cause a hardship for your organization and is a barrier to your possible participation.