Executive Director Fundamentals: Setting Up for Success

Executive Director Fundamentals: Setting Up for Success

November 16, 2020 to November 18, 2020

Greater New Orleans Foundation
Center for Philanthropy
919 St. Charles Avenue
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130

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Program Overview

Sponsored by Chevron and brought to you by the Greater New Orleans Foundation’s Nonprofit Leadership & Effectiveness program in partnership with Marla Cornelius, Nonprofit Leadership and Management Consultant and Roxanne Hanson, FMA: Fiscal Strength for Nonprofits.

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. This program, exclusively for new Executive Directors, combines expert instruction and peer-learning to tackle these issues.

This three-day program will be led by Marla Cornelius and Roxanne Hanson, FMA. Marla and Roxanne will draw on promising practices from the field, relevant research, and their extensive experience working with nonprofit leaders. Additionally, you will benefit from the collective wisdom of the cohort 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.

Learning Objectives

  • Strengths-based Leadership: Identify your individual talents using the StrengthsFinder assessment and begin to explore how you can maximize your strengths in your role as Executive Director.
  • Financial Literacy and Leadership: Understand key nonprofit financial management concepts and strategies for sound budgeting. Learn how to assess the financial health of your organization. Learn the principles of financial leadership.
  • Aligning People to Purpose: Learn a framework to more powerfully align your staff to their positions and the needs of the organization. Understand the roles and responsibilities of effective supervision, including expectation setting, feedback, professional development and coaching for problem-solving.
  • Boards & Governance: Learn the principles of nonprofit governance and the board’s fiduciary obligations. Understand the roles and responsibilities of the board and how to maximize board engagement. Learn techniques to create a powerful and supportive partnership with your board of directors.
  • Action Planning: Have identified a set of commitments and actions to further develop in your role as Executive Director.

Executive Director Fundamentals is right for you if:

  • You are a new executive director; have been in the role for 5 years or less.
  • You are ready to invest in your personal and organizational development.
  • You desire to think strategically and proactively about your individual leadership practice.
  • You want to learn promising practices about nonprofit leadership and management to more powerfully steward your organization.
  • You are excited to learn with peers, share your experience, and are open to others’ ideas.
  • You would benefit from being in a safe, confidential and generative learning environment.
  • Neither you nor your organization is in crisis mode so that you are able to take full advantage of this program and can make it a good investment of your time and your organization’s resources.
  • You can fully engage and participate in all program components:
    • Complete the Clifton StrengthsFinder online assessment (details will be sent upon confirmation)
    • Attend all three days of the program
    • Participate in evaluation activities.

2020 Schedule

Executive Director Fundamentals: Setting Up for Success is a three-day intensive program that will take place from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm each day November 16, 17, and 18, 2020.

Full attendance in all three days is required. Participants who cannot fully participate are not eligible.


Click here for the application. Applications will be reviewed by GNOF and consultant staff for eligibility. Payment is due promptly upon acceptance into the cohort. The deadline to apply is 5pm CST on Friday, October 2, 2020.


The cost of the program is $350.00.

Please note, we never want your budget to be the reason you can’t participate in the program. We have a small pool of funds available to partially offset the program costs for qualified participants. Please email Kristen Craig (kristen@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 participation.

About the Program Providers

Marla Cornelius, MNA
Consultant: Nonprofit Leadership, Management, and Board Governance
510-508-2997 | marlacornelius@live.com| www.marlacornelius.com

Marla Cornelius works with organizations and leaders committed to social justice. She is skilled at designing programs and consulting engagements blending highly relevant theory with practical application. Her deep understanding of nonprofits, the challenges facing leaders, and the way that power plays out in organizations enable her to create environments where clients can explore new realities, learn new approaches, and achieve their goals.

Marla is an expert trainer, facilitator, content coach, and consultant in the following areas:

  • Nonprofit governance, board development
  • Adaptive leadership
  • Strengths-based leadership
  • Leadership development program design
  • Staff/talent development, performance management
  • Organizational development
  • Theory of Change development

While at CompassPoint (2000 to 2017), a leading nonprofit capacity-building organization, she led the design and delivery of numerous leadership development cohort programs such as Next Generation Leaders of Color, Organizational Sustainability, and Strategic Leader Development. She co-authored the research reports UnderDeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising (2013), Daring to Lead: A National Study of Nonprofit Executive Leadership (2011), and Ready to Lead? Next Generation Leaders Speak Out (2008). Marla has a Masters in Nonprofit Administration (MNA) from the University of San Francisco.

Roxanne Hanson
Lead Consultant, FMA: Fiscal Strength for Nonprofits
510-506-7171 | RHanson@fmaonline.net | www.fmaonline.net

Roxanne works with FMA’s Consulting and Advisory Services team to deliver fiscal management and operational insights to nonprofit and philanthropic clients across the country. She has extensive experience with instructional design, developing curricula and delivering trainings and workshops to a wide variety of audiences. To assist leadership teams in strategic decision-making, she excels at designing and implementing dashboards and other data-visualization tools. And, as an expert in recruitment, supervision, and talent-management, she understands intimately the role of organizational culture in mission success. Roxanne’s on-the-ground experience, as a nonprofit executive and philanthropic leader, has equipped her for addressing a broad range of client needs in a way that is sensitive to all stakeholders.

Prior to joining FMA, Roxanne was the Director of Operations and Planning at Women’s Community Clinic in San Francisco where she led the organization to independence from fiscal sponsorship and built its capacity for strategic planning. Earlier in her career, she held a variety of nonprofit capacity-building roles at Tides including as a leader of an effort to facilitate sharing of space and services for nonprofits. She also served as a Senior Advisor covering grant making, fiscal operations, human resources and risk management. For more than a decade, Roxanne worked in national and international advocacy organizations in Washington D.C., directing communications, fundraising and travel programs for Witness for Peace, managing training and consulting for Points of Light Foundation, and organizing volunteer recruitment and placement for Whitman-Walker Clinic.

Roxanne holds a BA in International Studies with a Minor in Women’s & Gender Studies from American University. She served on the board of Takoma Theatre Arts Project and has been recognized as an American Express NGen Fellow for Nonprofit Leadership by Independent Sector. Roxanne is based in FMA’s Oakland office.