During my numerous years as an Executive Director of not-for-profit organizations, I’ve spent many hours strategizing, consulting and sharing several bottles of wine with my colleagues. We all agree it takes a certain type of person to successfully lead an organization – someone who possesses foresight, compassion and the ability to function on minimal sleep. This individual works diligently with boards of directors and staff in order to pave the road for exciting new strategic directions and takes it in stride when that road turns into a dead end.
As one of my colleagues humorously explained to me after I landed a new job, “you’re now the captain of your own Starfleet Enterprise… you have the power and the controls to take your ship to new faraway places”. Yet soon enough you realize that you’re the only one in the landing party that beamed down onto a strange planet.
You’re often alone in your responsibility to deal with the multitude of difficult situations facing an organization. But you also share in the abundant successes: Children and youth who become more confident through programs that enrich their quality of life; and adults and families who overcome difficult barriers through services that enable them to become stronger, more independent members of their communities.
Being an Executive Director within the not-for-profit sector may be challenging, however it’s exhilarating; I never look back in regret for choosing this sector as my life’s work. I am continually meeting and collaborating with dedicated individuals – directors, staff, volunteers and stakeholders; everyone working together to ensure the provision of excellent, quality programs and services that benefit the persons that the organization serves. These are planets that I am proud to be on.