In the public speaking and entertainment worlds, there is a room where speakers and performers – seasoned veterans, new talent, and people in between – wait before going on stage. It is a space to focus and prepare. That space is known as the green room.
In the context of the Murdock Trust’s Board Leadership programs, the Green Room is a space where capable leaders of color hone their skills in governance, service, collaboration, and leadership. For these leaders, the “stage” is the nonprofit board room.
The Green Room program was created in response to feedback from many nonprofits in the Pacific Northwest. These organizations recognize the importance and potential of mobilizing more leaders of color into nonprofit board leadership. In many cases, this stems from a need identified by 49 percent of nonprofit chief executives: they do not have the right board members to “establish trust with the communities they serve.” (BoardSource’s Leading with Intent, 2021). Boards also self-report that their board makeup can negatively impact their ability to understand the organization’s operating environment and work, their ability to attract and retain talent, and their understanding of how to best serve their community (Stanford Social Innovation Review 2021).
Our Green Room initiative is grounded in a Christian faith perspective that equips these leaders to make their highest and best contribution from the core of who they are. Green Room launched in 2021 over Zoom with a cohort of 28 participants trained and coached by experienced board leaders. Now, this program is in a successful second year. This summer, we hosted our outstanding 2022 cohort for training and network building in Vancouver, Washington.
2022 Green Room Board Leadership Gathering
For two days, 26 participants gathered in person along with facilitators and coaches. Presentations covered high-performing nonprofit boards, the effective board member, nonprofit financials, and more. These sessions were followed by small-group discussions and practical applications.
Just as important as the training was the chance to connect with others in the room. Through facilitated activities, free time, and shared meals, participants expanded their networks and created connections that have lasted beyond the conference. As one participant shared, “This is probably the first time in a decade I have felt this connected to my peers.”
After two days together, our cohort walked away with practical frameworks, 90-day goals, a wider network of peers, and penetrating insights. One participant felt more equipped to discern invitations to join boards. Another agreed: “I learned more about what to expect in a strong, functioning board.” A third used the time to assess an invitation to rise from board member to board chair of the nonprofit she serves (spoiler: she said yes and is now the board president). A fourth, an experienced board member, gained fresh knowledge from “the Board/CEO responsibility matrix and walk-through of nonprofit financials.”
Over two cohorts, 2021 and 2022, the Murdock Trust is so glad to encourage and sharpen these 54 leaders. Each leader was already on their own journey of nonprofit board service: Entering the Green Room, two-thirds were experienced board members and one-third were not on boards but were the talent that many boards seek. We look forward to walking alongside these leaders in the years ahead as they strengthen nonprofits and serve their communities.
We are now receiving applications for the 2023 Green Room cohort. To read more details about the Green Room Board Leadership program and to apply or make a nomination, go here. To learn more about other Board Leadership & Development programs and the rest of our Leadership & Development offerings, see this page.