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Letter to the editor - Recipe for non-profit success

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I like to think of myself as a pretty civic-minded person and those who know me, I believe, would agree.  I care about my community and I do what I can to make it thrive.  I volunteer and serve on boards when asked and I pride myself on being an active member. Currently, I serve on several community non-profit boards in positions of authority and I’ve even started a new non-profit in support of our local county library. 

Anyone can volunteer but to be a board member takes a huge commitment. You are a member of the highest-level decision making team for an organization and your level of responsibility, commitment and integrity are substantial.  The board, organized to act in the best interest of the organization and the community, is tasked with the day-to-day operations of the organization that the public has entrusted to the board. The amount of time spent working for the organization, including meetings, events, fundraising, etc., can be time consuming and often thankless.  But when your heart believes in the organization, you do what you need to do to make it successful.

Last night, I resigned from the board of the organization that was dearest to me. An organization I have been a part of and supported for more than five years. I believe that it’s an organization that is sorely needed in the community, but an organization whose current board members, I believe, have lost sight of its responsibilities and obligations to the public. 

I was elected by my peers, my fellow board members, to serve as vice-president in this organization.  But as I learned last night, that apparently was in name only. I was not privy to a secret meeting that several board members attended to discuss an issue that concerned them, an issue that they could not even discuss at our board meeting, as a motion was made and seconded, to dismiss another board member. Not all board members were invited to that secret meeting, and those who weren’t did not support the motion due to lack of pertinent information, but because enough board members did attend the secret meeting, the motion passed.

I resigned because of the lack of leadership, the lack of integrity and the lack of ethics that was displayed at that board meeting last night. I resigned because of the disrespect that was shown to me as the vice-president, and I resigned because of the lies that were told when asked about the aforementioned meeting. I find it highly unethical, if not illegal due to state sunshine laws that may be applicable because of the government funds received by the organization, to hold a meeting when all board members are not in attendance or even notified of the meeting.  Inasmuch as I loved that organization and want only success for it, I cannot in good conscious be associated with a board that condones such behavior.

A successful board will have members that are a part of a dedicated team of concerned and engaged citizens who are willing to collaborate and work together for the good of the organization and for the community. A board that is dysfunctional, backstabbing and without ethics or transparency, will not be successful, nor bring the innovative strategies for effective change and sustainment of the organization that is sorely needed. 

Sherri Onorati


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