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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 six-session 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.

The next series of Board Leadership Training will be offered in fall 2022. Click here to add your name to the notification list.

Board Leadership Training is generously sponsored by TEW Foundation.



Session 1: Board Service and Legal Stewardship
Tuesday, October 12, 5:30-8:00 p.m. / Thursday, October 14, 4:00-6:30 p.m.

Presenter: Beth McCaw

What are your legal responsibilities and duties? This session examines what it means to be a good steward of your nonprofit, focusing on the legal perspective. What is your role and where are you potentially at risk for liability?

Session 2: Capitalizing Nonprofit Missions
Tuesday, October 19, 6:00-8:00 p.m. / Thursday, October 21, 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 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 3: Racial Equity in Board Practices
Tuesday, October 26, 6:00-8:00 p.m. / Thursday, October 28, 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: Staying Solvent, Knowing the Numbers
Tuesday, November 2, 6:00-8:00 p.m. / Thursday, November 4, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Presenter: Ray Ishii

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.

Session 5: Building Leadership Capacity
Tuesday, November 9, 6:00-8:00 p.m. / Thursday, November 11, 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 developing clear job descriptions and evaluation systems for board members, establishing an effective board recruiting and training process, and ensuring directors stay closely linked to the mission and operation of the organization. The tips from this session will help ensure that both you and your nonprofit get the most from your service as a director.

Session 6: Setting the Direction
Tuesday, November 16, 6:00-8:00 p.m. / Thursday, November 18, 4:30-6:30 p.m. Presenter: Anne Shukla

Strategic planning in an increasingly competitive market. One of the first questions many corporate and private grantmakers ask is, “Do you have a current strategic plan?” Small wonder, because with some 40,000 nonprofits in the state of Washington alone, funders want to ensure they invest in an organization that knows where it’s going and how it’s getting there. As a board member, you have exactly the same interest in a living, working plan that everyone supports.



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

Cost: $90 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 ellen@artsfund.org with any questions.

Expectations: Participation in a minimum of 5 out of 6 training sessions is required. 100% attendance strongly encouraged. Up to 1 hour of pre-work may be assigned per week

Timing: Board Leadership Training is offered twice annually, once in the fall and once in the spring.

Location: Sessions will be held on Zoom.



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 is 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.

Ray Ishii, CPA, is the owner of Ishii & Associates, LLC, and has over 30 years’ finance, accounting, and management experience. He provides tax and business consulting services to individuals, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations. As former CFO of several nonprofit organizations, Ray has extensive senior management experience including strategic planning, systems development, and complex project financing. He has been an adjunct professor at Seattle University for over 15 years teaching both undergraduate and graduate tax and accounting courses. In addition, Ray has volunteered on the boards of several nonprofit organizations including the Pike Place Market, FareStart, Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, and Wing Luke Museum.

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 Board Vice President of On the Boards.

Beth McCaw recently retired from her role as President & CEO of Washington Women’s Foundation. A former attorney, Beth retired in 2011 from Stokes Lawrence, P.S., where she focused her practice on estate planning, gift and estate taxation, probate and trust administration, charitable giving, and the law of tax-exempt organizations. Beth serves on the Board of Directors of YWCA USA, Bellevue LifeSpring, and the Auction of Washington Wines.  She is a Past President of The Rainier Club and a former Chair of the Board of Directors of the YWCA Seattle/King County and Snohomish County, Book-It Repertory Theatre, and the Washington Planned Giving Council.

Christine O’Connor is an arts management consultant and executive recruiter with the national consulting firm AlbertHall&Associates, where her clients have included Sundance Institute, Guthrie Theatre, South Coast Rep, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Seattle Rep, and 5th Avenue Theatre, among others. She has more than 25 years’ experience in fundraising and nonprofit management as senior staff 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.

Anne Shukla is a program evaluation and strategic planning expert with over 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector. She currently serves as a Systems & Process Improvement Advisor for City of Seattle. Previously, she was the Reporting and Evaluation Manager at YouthCare and a consultant at MEMconsultants with a focus on arts education and youth development organizations. She has also served as an adjunct faculty member at Seattle University, teaching Program Evaluation and Strategic Planning for students in the Nonprofit Leadership and Arts Leadership graduate programs. She holds an MFA in Arts Leadership from Seattle University.

For more information, contact Ellen Milligan at ellen@artsfund.org.