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Fostering highly effective leaders and vibrant nonprofits that transform the quality of lives in our communities


 

Leaders Institute - Full Program Description


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The CEN Leaders Institute Program

Program Description

CEN believes that the most effective way to increase the capacity of the nonprofit sector is to strengthen and sustain the leaders (Executive Directors and their board members) of nonprofit organizations.  And CEN has found, through extensive conversations and direct experience, that what nonprofit executives need and value most are: access to excellent quality executive and leadership development resources; assistance with governance challenges; and a supportive and shared learning community of colleagues.  In early 2004, CEN launched the CEN Leaders Institute to specifically address these needs.  To date, CEN has successfully conducted nine Leaders Institute “classes” and has plans to launch the CEN Leaders Institute 10 program in September, 2016.  The CEN Leaders Institute has become a highly sought after professional development opportunity for Silicon Valley nonprofit Executive Directors.

Through the CEN Leaders Institute, selected nonprofit Executive Directors are brought together every four weeks for a full day to participate in a high-impact professional development opportunity that has four components:  dialogues with leadership experts and community and business leaders; structured peer support, consultation and shared learning; a renewal retreat and ongoing related content; and, individual executive coaching services.  These components are described below.

 

Dialogues with Leaders

As noted above, the CEN Leaders Institute has day-long sessions every month for 8 months.  Generally, these sessions consist of an informal presentation or dialogue with a guest expert or thought leader in the morning, followed by in-depth facilitated discussions with the group for the remainder of the day.  The quality of this “guest faculty” has been exceptional.  Examples of recent presenters include:  Carol Larson, CEO of The David and Lucile Packard Foundation; Chuck Geschke, Founder and Chairman of Adobe Systems; State Senator Joe Simitian; Ned Barnholt, former CEO of Agilent Technologies; and Dan Schwab, consultant and certified trainer for The Leadership Challenge.  The dialogues with these and other speakers have spanned a variety of topics including the state of the nonprofit sector, value-based leadership, balance and renewal, advocacy for nonprofits, governance, executive leadership of boards, change management, and the personal side of leadership.

 

Peer Support and Shared Learning

The value of networking, shared learning and the peer support that is engendered by a tightly-bonded group of highly regarded colleagues cannot be overstated.  Indeed, the relationships that are developed and fostered go well beyond the structured regular sessions and contribute significantly to the effectiveness and long-term sustainability of nonprofit leaders in the community.

The caliber of the nonprofit leaders who have been selected for and have participated in the CEN Leaders Institute over the years is indeed impressive.  The most recent three groups of “graduates” include the following: 

Leaders Institute 9

Leaders Institute 8

Leaders Institute 7

 

Renewal Retreat

One of the most critical issues facing nonprofit chief executives is their personal sustainability in their roles.  This is due to a variety of factors such as working in under-resourced environments, challenges with Boards, and the overwhelming and insatiable needs of the constituents and communities that they serve.  CEN fully believes that the ability to renew one-self personally and professionally is an essential leadership skill.  In an effort to develop these qualities in our leaders, CEN has partnered with Dr. Linda Hawes Clever of RENEW for purposes of incorporating a 1 ½ - day renewal retreat into the CEN Leaders Institute curriculum.  This activity leads to the development of personal renewal plans that identify and help to instill tangible renewal practices and positive behavioral changes in our nonprofit leaders.  Progress is reviewed on a regular basis in order to promote and sustain positive changes.

 

Executive Coaching Services

As a component of the CEN Leaders Institute, apart from the regularly scheduled sessions, CEN provides participants the opportunity to work with a personal executive coach on an in-depth basis to address their unique leadership challenges.  The coaching process is a relationship between an Executive Director and a seasoned professional executive coach in which the goal is to enhance the success of the leader and the organization.   An executive coach provides support, feedback, accountability, and perspective.  This collaborative partnership leverages the strength and skills of the coach and the knowledge and experience of the Executive Director.  The benefits to the Executive Director include:  assistance with aligning the work of the organization with the mission and strategies; support and relief from the isolation that many Executive Directors experience; fresh and objective perspectives, and the encouragement to look at old issues in new ways; accountability to remain focused on critical issues; ideas for how to better use the organization’s limited resources; a challenge to the Executive Director to “stretch”; and, an environment for identifying new directions and opportunities for future growth for the organization and the leader.

 

Program Staff

The CEN Leaders Institute is staffed and facilitated by Jennifer Simmons – CEN Executive Director, Donna Wies - CEN Senior Consultant, Kathy Burke – K. Burke & Associates and Dr. Linda Hawes Clever, President of RENEW.  Their professional qualifications are noted below.

Jennifer Simmons (Executive Director, CEN)

Jennifer Simmons has over 20 years of experience in the public, high tech and non-profits sectors.  Most recently Jennifer has worked with Habitat for Humanity Silicon Valley as their Executive Director and in 2012; she led the organization through a strategic merger.  Prior to joining Habitat, Jennifer worked at Infineon Technologies and for local County and State elected officials.  Jennifer is a 2010 graduate of CEN’s Leadership Institute and in 2012 she was named one of the "100 Women of Influence in Silicon Valley" by the San Jose Business Journal.  Jennifer is currently a member of the San Jose Downtown Rotary Club.  Jennifer holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Santa Cruz in Political Science.  In addition, Jennifer is a BoardSource Certified Governance Trainer.

Donna Wies (Senior Consultant, CEN)

Prior to joining the CEN team, Donna was an independent consultant working with nonprofit organizations and water utilities in the areas of strategic planning, performance measurement, facilitation and organizational effectiveness.  She worked for Union Sanitary District in the East Bay for 25 years. As the Quality Program Coordinator, she directed the District’s strategic planning and continuous improvement efforts. Since 2005, Donna has helped community benefit organizations identify their strategic objectives, measure progress achieving their mission and improve the effectiveness of their Boards and business processes.  Donna has a Bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley, Certificates in Nonprofit Management and Quality Management, and is a BoardSource Certified Governance Trainer.

Kathy Burke, MBA, CPC (Founder and Principal, K. Burke Associates)

As a leadership consultant and certified professional coach, Kathy works with leaders and groups at all levels to facilitate their professional and personal development, well-being and effectiveness.  She brings to her consulting and coaching practice over twenty years of management experience high tech and financial services corporations and a proven track record of successfully coaching leaders, directors, high-level professionals, boards and other teams in both commercial and non-profit organizations.  A manager with Hewlett-Packard for over 18 years, Kathy led teams in Finance, Global Marketing, Information Technology, and Human Resources.  She has an undergraduate degree in Psychology from San Jose State University and earned an MBA with an emphasis in Finance from Santa Clara University.  She is certified as Integral CoachSM through New Ventures West and serves on coach certification panels for New Ventures West and JFK University.  Kathy is a lifelong learner who continues to study business, leadership and human development but most of all is humble student of what it means to be human.  She is a wife, mother, and grandmother and has a passion for helping people develop their individual and collective capacities for living and working well together.  Kathy is a past board member of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte and currently serves on the board of Family Supportive Housing in San Jose.

Linda Hawes Clever, MD, MACP (President of RENEW, Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCSF)

Dr. Linda Hawes Clever is President of RENEW, a not-for-profit aimed at helping busy, devoted people, including leaders, manage their competing commitments and sustain (or regain) their enthusiasm, effectiveness and purpose.  She is founding Chair of the Department of Occupational Health at California Pacific Medical Center, a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCSF and a former editor of the Western Journal of Medicine.  Dr. Clever received undergraduate and medical degrees from Stanford University.  She has written numerous papers, chapters, articles, and editorials.   Her areas of special interest include personal and organizational renewal; the interactions of life, work and health; and leadership.   Dr. Clever served on the Stanford University Board of Trustees, chaired the Board of KQED, and is past president of the Western Association of Physicians.

 

Summary

In summary, the CEN Leaders Institute … through dialogues with experts and leaders, peer support and shared learning, practices to ensure renewal and leadership vitality, and executive coaching services … provides nonprofit leaders with unparalleled access to “best in class” resources and the support necessary to strengthen and sustain them, thereby enhancing the capacities of their organizations to more effectively serve their communities.

The value of the CEN Leaders Institute is perhaps best expressed by the participants themselves:

“Participating in the CEN Leaders Institute has helped me grow tremendously as a leader in the nonprofit profession.  Meeting with my fellow colleagues to discuss the broader issues of leadership, governance with both staff and boards, and maintaining a sense of purpose and humor is vital for my personal well-being and that of my organization.”

“The group has made me feel that I am not alone in my position.  It has allowed me to face any challenges with new tools for moving ahead as well as renewed energy and perspective.  The guest speakers, too, have both validated and inspired me and my work.  Their personal stories were motivating and educational and it’s been wonderful to meet business figures that embody sincere character and true leadership.”

“The CEN Leaders Institute speakers focus on the most important issues facing nonprofit leaders.  The programs are well worth the time and keep you thinking long afterwards.”

“CEN has provided a forum that allows Executive Directors the opportunity to share their experiences, expertise, joy, frustration, and perspectives.  As a result, I have become a better Executive Director.”

“The CEN Leaders Institute was one of the most professional and helpful leadership support programs I have participated in.  I have been able to use what I have learned with my board and staff, and our team has become more strategic and more focused.”

“I have found the CEN Leaders Institute to be a touchstone of best practices and great support!”

“The CEN Leaders Institute has been wonderful.  I have realized the need to interact with my nonprofit colleagues more in order to break the sense of isolation that comes with the territory.  And, of course, everyone is so thoughtful, engaging and dedicated.  It’s been a great energy to be around.”

 

Sample Curriculum

Specific topics may change according to the needs of the current LI class

Retreat (1 ½ Days) - Sustaining Yourself in Leadership & Life

First Day Session - The Personal Side of Leadership (Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

Second Day Session – Your “Leadership Practices Inventory” (Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

Third Day Session – Leading Others (Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

Forth Day Session – Leading Your Organization (Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

Fifth Day Session - Leading Your Organization (Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

Sixth Day Session – Leading Your Board (Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

Seventh Day Session– Immunity to Change (Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

Guest Faculty: Speakers have, but are not limited to:  Carol Larson, CEO of The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Chuck Geschke, Founder and Chairman of Adobe Systems, Joe Simitian, Former State Senator and current Santa Clara County Supervisor and Ned Barnholt, former CEO of Agilent Technologies

Location:  Meeting locations change, but all sessions take place in the Los Altos area.