Varied voices improve your board

Board members create a web with brightly colored yarn

Emerging Leaders Cabinet members create connections with members of the SWIF Board of Directors.

When you look at your board what do you see? Are there a wide variety of voices represented? Is the makeup or your board inclusive of various ages, genders or races? Is there a diversity of skills and competencies? In other words, is your board reflective of the community you serve? It is a truism that in smaller communities, the same people are often asked to serve on various boards and committees. Hey, any warm body will do, right? Well, maybe not. As our communities change, it’s worth considering how we can improve the functioning of our boards by including a wider variety of viewpoints and life experiences.

One of the ways SWIF has begun to think about how we ensure that a wide variety of stakeholders are at the table is through our Emerging Leaders Cabinet. The Emerging Leaders Cabinet is a committee of our Board of Directors comprised specifically of people under the age of 40 from throughout our southwest Minnesota region. All come from different walks of life, and represent the diversity of our great region. The role of the committee is to explore current realities and trends and to create avenues of influence for this group of leaders.

Take some time to identify the emerging leaders in your community and consider if there are new voices that would bring depth and insight to your board. By looking at opportunities and challenges with a fresh set of eyes, your foundation could increase its impact. For practical insight on why board diversity is useful and tips on how engage a broader cross-section of your community, check out this great resource from the National Council of Nonprofits.


@2015 Southwest Initiative Foundation, an equal opportunity provider and employer.

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