Meet the Board Leadership Series Facilitators

October 8, 2014


Have you ever participated in a workshop that promised to be engaging yet despite excellent content, you find your attention lagging?

Elaine Rastocky

There are a number of criteria for successful workshops, but for me, given effective content, the facilitator either makes or breaks the experience. I know because I’ve been there!

When the Dodge Foundation Board Leadership series was designed, and as it evolves, we not only update the curriculum, we keep searching for the best facilitators to deliver that content. Our current roster bears that out.

The series launches on Saturday, Oct. 11 (You can learn more here).

Today, I’d like to introduce you to the facilitators for the series and share some of their sage wisdom.

DG Headshot
David Grant | Dodge Foundation File

David Grant was President and CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation from 1998 to 2010. He now lives
in Vermont and consults with mission-based organizations around the world. A career educator, David co-founded and
directed from 1983 to 1994 The Mountain School of Milton Academy, a semester-long, residential environmental
studies program in Vermont for high school juniors. At Dodge, he instituted a highly successful Assessment training
program for Dodge grantees, which has evolved into the current series of workshops. His new book “Social Profit: Defining and Achieving Success in the Civic Sector” will be published by Chelsea Green Publishing Company in early 2015. David holds a BA in English from Princeton University and an MA in American Studies from the University of Michigan. In 2008, he received an honorary Doctorate in the Humanities from Drew University.

Workshops: Getting Started: Lifecycles, Assessment, and Building a Culture for Effective Change; Where Do We Go from Here: Turning Learning Into Action

Wisdom: “Nonprofit organizations don’t need a wizard to help them do their best work.  They need to use their own time together differently and better.  It is completely within their power to do that.  They just need to understand that idea, and believe in it.” (read more here.)

Laura Otten. | Courtesy of Laura Otten

Laura Otten Laura Otten has been the director of The Nonprofit Center at La Salle University’s School of Business since 2001 and is also the first director of La Salle’s new MS in Nonprofit Leadership. She began her affiliation with The
Nonprofit Center shortly after it was formed in the early 1980s, working as a consultant and trainer, primarily in the
areas of Board development, strategic planning and program evaluation. Laura continues to play these roles in addition
to providing direction and leadership to The Nonprofit Center’s educational, consulting, and leadership development programs.

She is an Associate Professor in La Salle’s Department of Sociology, Social Work and Criminal Justice and former director of the Criminal Justice and Women’s Studies Programs. Laura, a national expert in numerous aspects of nonprofit management and governance, earned her MA and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and her BA from Sarah Lawrence College.

Workshops: The Board Bootcamp; Optimizing and Building a Sustainable Board/Executive Director Relationship; Recruiting and Retaining Effective Board Members

Wisdom: Anyone who has ever done any hiring knows the challenges of constructing questions to get at the information you really want to know. For example, there is logic and anecdotal evidence in the thinking that a person who understands and embraces the importance of philanthropy is more likely to accept as part of a board member’s job the responsibility to be an active participant in fundraising. It would not be a fruitful idea, however, to try to determine a candidate’s commitment to active philanthropy by asking the straightforward question, “Do you embrace the importance of philanthropy?” (find out instead the questions you should ask here.)

Hilda Polanco. Courtesy of
Hilda Polanco. Courtesy of

Hilda Polanco is new to the Board Leadership Series this year. She is the Founder and CEO of Fiscal Management Associates, the go-to advisor foundation and nonprofit leaders seek when addressing nonprofit financial management capacity. Hilda provides capacity building, training and coaching services to foundations and nonprofits throughout the country.

Prior to founding FMA in 1999, Hilda worked with Citigroup and previously with the firm of Ernst & Young, serving Fortune 100 companies in various industries. Hilda graduated from New York University with a B.A. in Accounting. She holds the Certification in Control Self-Assessment from the Institute of Internal Auditors, in addition to holding the Chartered Global Management Accountants awarded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Workshops: Financial Management: Telling Your Story Through Numbers

Wisdom: “Organizations that want to grow and are doing well are much more successful when they have the power of the board behind them. And when I say the power of the board (I mean) the ability to raise money (and) bring relationships to the organization.” (Excerpted from this interview.)

Allison Trimarco (not pictured) is the founder of Creative Capacity, which helps nonprofit organizations increase their management capacity and mission effectiveness. Her practice focuses on fundraising, communications, strategic  planning, and Board development projects. Prior to beginning her consulting practice, she held leadership positions at nonprofit theatres, public libraries, and public television.

Allison serves as an instructor and consultant at The Nonprofit Center, and is also an adjunct faculty member at both Drexel University and La Salle University. She earned her MA in Arts Management at Carnegie Mellon University and her BA in Theatre at Smith College.

Workshops: A Strategic Approach to Strategic Planning; The Board’s Role in Fundraising

Wisdom: “How do we call on our creativity to find new ideas that can be explored during strategic planning? Surprisingly, adding a little more structure to your process will often inspire creativity in the group. Vague conversations that start, “Well, what should we do next?” do nothing to stimulate new lines of thinking.”  (Get three tips to inspire some creative ideas here.)

Check back on the first Wednesday of each month for Technical Assistance blog posts from our facilitators.