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Board Leadership Training

Board Leadership Training, one of the longest-running programs at ArtsFund, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, focused on equipping leaders with essential skills for supporting arts and cultural organizations through board leadership. Through six sessions taught by a faculty of trusted industry experts, participants receive 12 hours of instruction covering fiscal and legal responsibilities, fundraising, strategic planning, racial equity, and governance. The sessions are designed to provide theoretical framework in concert with a real-life example, and a chance to engage with peers in content-focused discussions. Participants are also be invited to attend an in-person celebration.


2024 BLT Course Overview

The 2024 Board Leadership Training will encompass seven sessions including six online trainings and one optional in-person networking launch event. There are two cohorts – one on Monday nights and one on Wednesday nights (there is one Thursday evening exception on April 4). When you register, you will select which cohort is best for your schedule.  

Sessions: The online sessions will run Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:30 p.m. -7:30 p.m. (with the exception of Thursday, 4/4/2024, which takes the place of the normal Wednesday session that week). All sessions take place on Zoom.


Session 1: Building Leadership Capacity
Monday, March 18th, Wednesday, 20th, 5:30-7:30 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 issuesThe tips from this session will help ensure that both you and your nonprofit get the most from your service as a director. 


Session 2: Levers of Financial Sustainability & Solvency
Monday, March 25th, Wednesday 27th, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Presenter: C. Lorenzo Evans III

Nonprofit Boards of Directors are the primary stakeholders of an organization’s financial sustainability. This fiduciary duty requires members of the Board to have an in-depth understanding of the organization’s financial and operational health. In this session, we take a deep dive into the financial intricacies of arts nonprofits, while gaining insights into how to understand, analyze, and activate informed financial planning and analysis tools that ensure organizational sustainability. This session explores the following topics:

I. Understanding Financial Statements
II. Funding Sources and Industry Funding Trends
III. Financial Compliance & Reporting
IV. Key Performance Indicators & Business Drivers
V. Budgeting & Forecasting
VI. Cash Management
VII. Developing a Board of Directors Perspective on the Financials


Session 3: Designing the Future(s)
Monday, April 1st, Thursday* 4th, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
*Please note that this week’s normal Wednesday session will happen on Thursday due to a scheduling requirement
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 with pre-session materials to consider traditional strategic planning. Our live session will examine Design Thinking (which shares characteristics with Human Centered Design), a framework to explore innovative ways for boards, staff, and community to work together, and better meet the needs of the people we serve.


Session 4: Resourcing the Mission
Monday, April 15th, Wednesday 17th, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Presenter: Maria Kolby-Wolfe

A nonprofit board must ensure their organization has adequate financial and relational resources to carry out its work. For nearly every board member, this means involvement in fundraising and a commitment to ambassadorship. Note that this session is not fundraising training per se. Rather, it will give an understanding of how and why a board should engage in fundraising and relationship-building, what questions to ask and what to look for when evaluating the resources of an organization, and the intricate dance between staff and board that happens in the world of raising mission dollars and awareness.


Session 5: Legal Aspects of Nonprofit Governance
Monday, April 22nd, Wednesday 24th, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Presenter: David Lawson

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


Session 6: Racial Equity in Board Practices
Monday, April 29th, Wednesday, May 1st, 5:30-7:30 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.


ArtsFund works to ensure all our programs meet the accessibility needs of our community. The following represent the accessibility measures we have adopted; please be in touch if you have additional needs for us to consider.

• ASL Interpretation has been secured for all sessions (including the in-person event).

• All speakers have been asked to provide a visual description.

• Captioning has been turned on for zoom sessions.

• Sessions will be recorded and shared after the event.

• Materials will be provided in a screen-reader legible format, one week in advance for preview.

• A 5-minute break will be provided in the middle of each session.

• Technology support will be provided to attendees to navigate online tools.


Board Leadership Training and Diversity
ArtsFund programs Board Leadership Training with a goal of increasing board diversity in arts organizations. ArtsFund’s pillars of uplifting BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and people with disabilities are in support of the health and vitality of this sector. Board Leadership Training features a faculty of diverse nonprofit experts with a variety of professional and lived experience and backgrounds to facilitate connections between cohorts and the cultural sector, and we are invested in cohort representation that supports this effort.

To Apply: Spring 2024 Board Leadership Training Enrollment Form 

The enrollment deadline for the spring series is Friday, March 8, 2024. Participants are admitted on a rolling basis. Please note that space is limited. Participation may be limited to 3 board members per organization, depending on demand. 

Please contact with any questions

Spring 2024 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. He has been instrumental in the Doors Open/Cultural Access program from its inception at ArtsFund through its recent passage in King County.

C. Lorenzo Evans III, MBA, is a visionary finance executive and lecturer with over 15 years of accounting and financial management experience. With a deep commitment to the intersection of financial management and education, Evans’ work leverages his expertise to increase financial literacy and financial management competencies in both business and academic sectors. As a finance executive and consultant, Mr. Evans has transformed the financial operations of such organizations as Westfield Corporation, the Smithsonian Institution, the University of Maryland (Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center), Washington Performing Arts Society, and a host of others. A dynamic educator and subject matter expert, Evans has served as a lecturer, professor, and curriculum developer for such organizations as American University, National Arts Strategies – University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Westminster. In addition, Evans has led talks on financial management, entrepreneurship, and business development in partnership with organizations worldwide.

Recognized by DC Modern Luxury Magazine as a “Top Innovator” in 2021, Evans is an entrepreneur and the proud founder of CLE Business Services, a consulting firm dedicated to education and business solutions for businesses of all sizes and types.

Allison Augustyn is a certified Design Thinking designer and strategic planning leader with over 20 years experience working with nonprofits, businesses, and start-up entrepreneurs. She teaches in the Executive Program for Social Innovation Design (#XSD) at the University of Pennsylvania, and is a leadership and human development coach certified by the Hudson Institute, with clients globally. She has served as staff, board member, and Executive Director at nonprofits, and is passionate about the arts. She graduated from Lawrence University with a degree in English Literature and Theater Dramaturgy, with an emphasis in classical piano performance. In her spare time, she writes, paints, and is a developing ceramicist.

Maria Kolby-Wolfe is President and CEO of Washington Women’s Foundation (WaWF) and an instructor at the University of Washington in Nonprofit Management. Before guiding WaWF Maria performed a variety of development and communication roles at Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Seattle Symphony, Path with Art, ACT Theatre, Museum of Pop Culture, and Swedish Medical Center Foundation. She has served as a board member for TeamChild, Rainier Valley Food Bank, Allied Arts Foundation, and Global Leadership Forum. Maria grew up in Bellingham, WA, graduated with a BA in English from the University of Puget Sound, and achieved doctoral candidacy in African American History at Northwestern University. Her passions and beliefs align directly with her work: Food, Art, and Justice for All.

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.

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.

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