< Back To Programs

Board Leadership Training

ArtsFund keeps an eye to the future by training a new generation of arts leaders. Through its Board Leadership Training program, ArtsFund equips current and future board members with the skills needed to help arts organizations be successful financially and artistically.

A well-trained and effective board of directors is essential to a nonprofit’s success. ArtsFund introduced its Board Leadership Training program in 1999 to teach committed volunteers to be highly effective board members. In 23 years, nearly 1000 individuals have graduated from the program.

This training program is taught by a faculty of the region’s top nonprofit experts. Participants receive 12 hours of instruction covering fiscal and legal responsibilities, fundraising, strategic planning, racial equity, and governance.

Enrollment is closed. To be notified of enrollment for the Fall 2023 session, please complete the notification form here.

Notify me for Fall 2023 BLT


Timing: The Spring 2023 Board Leadership Training will encompass seven sessions including one in-person launch event, and six online trainings.

Launch event: BLT’s in-person launch session (on Monday, March 13 from 4:30-6 pm) will connect with your cohort and help you learn more about how to get the most out of the program. We understand that not everybody will be comfortable or able to attend the in-person launch event – while it is highly encouraged, participation is not required to attend the rest of the sessions.

Sessions: The online sessions will run Mondays, March 20-May 1, from 4:30 to 6:30 pm on Zoom.

Session 1: Building Leadership Capacity
Monday, March 20, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Presenter: Dwight Gee

Practices of a high-performance board. What makes some organizations and their boards soar? Practical steps can make the difference, like ensuring that board meetings focus on the issues that matter most, and that the meetings thoroughly engage the thoughts and wisdom of all board members. The session will cover a wide range of practices you can put to work at your organization, from building agendas for effective and engaging board meetings, to addressing issues of board-staff roles, to recruiting and orienting members, to encouraging different ways of thinking to address key organizational issues.  The tips from this session will help ensure that both you and your nonprofit get the most from your service as a director.

Session 2: Designing the Future(s)
Monday, March 27, 4:30-6:30pm
Presenter: Allison Augustyn

Using Design Thinking for Strategic Planning. How can we set the course for an organization when the future feels uncertain? You will be provided pre-session materials to understand traditional strategic planning, while this live session will explore how to apply Design Thinking (aka Human Centered Design) to create a one-page, actionable strategic plan as we begin to answer the question: how can boards, staff, and community work together to meet the needs of the people we serve?

Session 3: Racial Equity in Board Practices
Monday, April 3, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Presenter: Jasmine Jamillah Mahmoud, PhD

Applying an equity lens to leadership. What is the board’s role in your organization when it comes to racial equity work and inclusion? This interactive discussion focuses on board opportunities and responsibilities in steps such as addressing board diversity, building authentic engagement in community, and how to launch into the racial equity conversation.

Session 4: Legal Aspects of Nonprofit Governance
Monday, April 17, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Presenter: David Lawson

This session describes board members’ fiduciary responsibilities and other key legal issues involved in board service.

Session 5: Capitalizing Nonprofit Missions
Monday, April 24, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Presenter: Christine O’Connor

Annual, facility, and endowment fundraising. A nonprofit board must ensure the organization has adequate resources to carry out its work. For nearly every board member, this means involvement in fundraising. Note that this session is not fundraising training. Rather, it will give an understanding of how a board should engage in fundraising and what questions to ask when launching capital or endowment campaigns and hiring consultants.

Session 6: Staying Solvent, Knowing the Numbers
Monday, May 1, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Presenter: Jim Bromley

Financial stewardship of your nonprofit. Who is ultimately responsible for the tax returns, budgets, and financial statements of a nonprofit? This session reviews fiduciary duties of directors and examines concrete examples of the documents you’ll need to know.


Eligibility: The program is open to aspiring and current board members, as well as board prospects of arts organizations, ArtsFund Visionaries, and representatives from our corporate partners (priority is given to board members of ArtsFund’s Cultural Partners Network).

Cost: $150 total; complimentary for ArtsFund Visionaries. Payment will be collected upon admission to the program. Cost should not be a barrier to participation and financial aid is available upon admission if needed. Please contact with any questions.

Expectations: Participation in a minimum of 5 out of 6 online training sessions is required and 100% attendance is strongly encouraged. This set of trainings is designed to be interactive and hands-on, and we encourage participants to actively engage with the materials, other cohort participants and faculty members through in-session discussions, small group breakouts, and virtual whiteboards. Up to 1 hour of pre-work may be assigned per week.

Location: Online sessions will be held on Zoom.

Spring 2023 FACULTY:

Dwight Gee is a former Executive Vice President of The World Justice Project. He established the Board Leadership Training program as Executive Vice President of ArtsFund where he worked from 1989-2011. Dwight was two-term board president of FareStart, and was Chair of the visiting committee of Seattle University’s Masters in Nonprofit Leadership Program. In 2002, as consultant to the Soros Foundation, he helped establish an arts council in Mongolia. As a volunteer, he serves as president of a US-based nonprofit to support Mongolian culture and serves on other nonprofit boards and committees.

Allison Augustyn is a certified Design Thinking designer and strategic planning leader with over 20 years of experience in the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. She currently teaches in the Design Thinking Executive Program for Social Innovation Design (#XSD) at the University of Pennsylvania and is active in the Hudson Coach Certification program for leadership. She has served in the roles of staff, board, and Executive Director at nonprofits and loves the arts, having graduated from Lawrence University in English Literature and Theater Dramaturgy, with an emphasis in classical piano performance.

Jasmine Jamillah Mahmoud, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Theatre History and Performance Studies at the University of Washington. A curator, arts advocate, and historian of art and performance, her research engages contemporary arts, critical race studies, cultural policy, and geography. She co-edited Makeshift Chicago Stages (Northwestern University Press 2021), and her writing appears in academic journals and community publications including the South Seattle Emerald. Previously faculty at Seattle University and Washington University in St. Louis, she taught classes including “Black Lives Matter: Art, Theory, Practice.” She serves as a Gov. Inslee-appointed Washington State Arts Commissioner, and committee member for Tacoma Art Museum’s The Current Black Artist Award.

David Lawson is a partner in the Seattle office of Perkins Coie LLP. He counsels a wide variety of nonprofit organizations on matters involving tax exemption, corporate governance, charitable trust and solicitation laws, and matters relating to advocacy and lobbying.  David also helps corporate, family, and individual donors plan and carry out their philanthropy. David is a frequent speaker and writer on nonprofit law topics. He serves as the chair of the Nonprofit Corporations Committee of the Washington State Bar Association’s Business Law Section. As the recorder of that committee, he played a primary role in drafting Washington’s new Nonprofit Corporation Act, which took effect at the beginning of 2022.

Christine O’Connor has served as an arts manager, management consultant and executive recruiter for more than three decades. In addition to her work with the national consulting firm AlbertHall&Associates, where her clients included Sundance Institute, Guthrie Theatre, South Coast Rep, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Seattle Rep, and 5th Avenue Theatre, among others, she served in senior staff roles for Seattle Rep, Center Theatre Group, American Conservatory Theatre, and San Francisco Opera, managing major endowment, capital, and annual fund programs. She has taught arts management courses at Seattle University’s MFA program in Arts Leadership, UW’s Evans School, UW Extension, San Francisco State U., and is a contributing author for Theatre Communications Group’s book The Art of Governance.

Jim Bromley has been working in finance over his career. He was an investment banker for 13 years in New York and Seattle. He then served as the CFO and then President of the On-line division of Nordstrom for 5 years. Jim then worked with the Gates Foundation in several financial roles, with the last 4 years as the CFO. Throughout his career, Jim has been serving on Boards and Finance Committees of non-profit organizations, such as Act Theater, two churches, Seattle Jazz Ed, YWCA of King and Snohomish Counties, Global to Local, Living Goods, among others. Jim also volunteers regularly at the Rainier Valley Food Bank.

For more information, contact