11 Books Every Nonprofit Leader Should Read

Team NLC Resources

Lifelong learning is strongly correlated with reading. Research from Psychology Today shows that people who read a lot develop stronger brains, exhibit higher levels of empathy and lead more productive and successful lives. As self-proclaimed lifelong learners at NLC, we recently asked our community to share their favorite leadership books with us. Here are 11 of the best books for nonprofit leaders curated by our community of nonprofit and business professionals.

1. “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey 

2. “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek

3. “Leadership on the Line” by Ronald A. Heifetz

4. “Non-Negotiable” by Sam Silverstein

5. “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth” by John C. Maxwell

6. “Lead or Get Out of the Way” by Gary Vien

7. “Delivering Happiness” by Tony Hsieh

8. “I think, You Think, We All Think, Differently: Leadership Skills for Millennials & Gen Z” by Gregory A. Buschman

9. “Winning with People” by John Maxwell

10. “5 Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lincioni

11. “What Got You Here Will Not Get You There” by Marshall Goldsmith

Ready to Take the Next Step as a Lifelong Learner?

Join us for an upcoming classroom training to strengthen your skills and your organization’s impact. From fundraising and financial management to culture and communications, we offer 90 classes a year to help you help our community. See the schedule of classes and sign up here.


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Four Women Every Tampa Bay Nonprofit Leader Should Know

Team NLC Stories

For more than a century, the world has come together each year on March 8 to celebrate women. International Women’s Day is a global day to recognize the achievements of women everywhere while continuing efforts to advance gender equality. To mark this important occasion, the Nonprofit Leadership Center is pleased to introduce you to four women in Tampa Bay every nonprofit leader should know.

Four Women Every Tampa Bay Nonprofit Leader Should Know: Emily Ghosh Harris, Kate McPherson, Meriel Martinez and Rebecca J. Watson

We have four new trainers at NLC — all women! Behind every great leader is someone who mentored them and contributed to their knowledge and growth. That’s what NLC trainers do for nonprofit leaders and organizations throughout the year. In honor of International Women’s Day, we asked each of our new trainers to tell us about a woman who has made an impact on their lives and careers and what they learned from them. We think you’ll agree we are so fortunate to have such talented experts helping our nonprofit sector grow and build capacity.

1. Emily Ghosh Harris

Emily Ghosh Harris

Emily Harris is the founder of Soul Media Global where she spearheads digital marketing campaigns, brand strategy and experiential marketing for companies of all sizes, from startups to the largest media companies. Her ability to help clients connect with their target audience in a meaningful way and inspire brand loyalty is what makes her a powerful force and thought leader in the digital marketing world. Emily has dedicated her career to helping individuals and businesses of all sizes reach their highest potential. When she’s not helping women entrepreneurs and conscious companies make global impact, Emily enjoys traveling, interviewing guests on her podcast — The Soul Collective — and spending time on the water. 

“Eileen Canady has been an incredible mentor and friend in my life. She is the true embodiment of authentic leadership. She leads with humility, inner confidence and grace, lifting everyone up around her and helping them to shine. She is an extraordinary visionary and understands what it takes to build a dynamic and thriving team. I have learned so much from Eileen, in business and in life, and I’m a better human because of knowing her.”

Emily Ghosh Harris

2. Kate McPherson

Kate McPherson

Kate McPherson is a disaster preparedness expert who helps leaders and organizations prepare for the worst so they can be their best. She has led Tampa Bay’s recovery efforts from Hurricane Irma as the executive director of the Recover Tampa Bay Initiative and serves as the co-chair of Florida Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster’s (FLVOAD) Long-Term Recovery Workgroup. Kate came to Florida after a long history of disaster planning, response and recovery work in North Carolina with the state’s preeminent public health disaster team.

“My female mentor was a woman named Lou. She was my boss’ boss. We were a small group, and her office was across from mine. She showed me how to be a strong, capable woman in a man’s field. She was tough. She had the language of a sailor at one minute and then would show up with homemade baked goods the next. She showed me there wasn’t one way to be a powerful woman in this world — no single path, only the one we blaze for ourselves.”

Kate McPherson

KATE’S UPCOMING COURSE: Be Ready: Disaster Preparedness for Nonprofit Leaders and Organizations (April 1 & 8)


3. Meriel Martínez

Meriel Martinez

Meriel Martínez is a freelance trainer and facilitator who specializes in diversity, equity and inclusion, with specific expertise in professional development, youth empowerment and LGBTQ+ issues. Meriel has served as logistics coordinator for the Virginia Latino Higher Education Network’s (VALHEN) Hispanic College Institute and an adjunct professor in the English Language Program at Virginia Commonwealth University. She was education and training coordinator at the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, where she designed and facilitated educational programs on diversity and inclusion for schools, workplaces and communities across the state.

“I was only months into my first job out of graduate school when Julia Caballero was hired. I didn’t know it then, but she would become my mentor, champion and friend. Julia was a natural teacher and guide, eager to share her abundant know-how. I was fortunate to have her as a colleague and, eventually, my manager. She imparted her knowledge with skill and enthusiasm and genuinely enjoyed watching me grow. While I am grateful for the job-specific lessons I learned from Julia, what I treasure most is the example she set. Julia is a strong, giving leader who is an outstanding professional with fierce dedication and sound character. I am better for having worked with her for so many years and am thankful I can call her my friend.”

Meriel Martínez

MERIEL’S UPCOMING COURSE: Courageous Conversations Across Generations at the 2020 Leadership Conference (June 11)


4. Rebecca J. Watson

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca Watson is a master facilitator and development strategist with a passion for empowering emerging and established leaders. She currently serves as CEO of Limitless Leader Inc., an expert facilitation and leadership development firm. For more than 17 years, Rebecca has made significant contributions to leadership capacity-building initiatives in Florida, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Texas and Tennessee. Previously, Rebecca served as a principal with Chicago Public Schools where she specialized in school turnaround work. She led K-12 schools to achieve significant growth in academic performance and award-winning culture transformation. Rebecca is also dedicated to serving her community. She is a board member of Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties and YMCA of the Suncoast.

“The female mentor who has had the greatest impact in my life is my mother, Virginia L. Watson. My mother was the first in her family to graduate from college (Miami University). She obtained her master’s degree well beyond age 50, became a living legend in early childhood education in Chicago, and still found time to pursue multiple passions through entrepreneurship and community building … all while raising five children with my equally awesome father. My mom would say to me all the time: ‘There’s always a way.‘ I’ve held this wisdom in my heart and mind through the years and used it as fuel to overcome every professional and personal barrier to realize my dream of doing what I love most: developing and supporting leaders, creating positive change in my community and being a great mom to my son.” 

Rebecca J. Watson

REBECCA’S UPCOMING COURSE: The Data-Driven Leader as part of our new Certificate in Leadership Series


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10 Questions with Habitat for Humanity’s Mike Sutton

Team NLC Stories

At the Nonprofit Leadership Center, we believe the best lessons in nonprofit leadership come from nonprofit leaders themselves. Our 10 Questions With Series celebrates and elevates nonprofit and business leaders across the Tampa Bay region each month who are making an enduring impact on our communities. Today, we’re pleased to introduce you to Mike Sutton, CFRE, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties.

Mike Sutton, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties | Nonprofit Leadership Center Spotlight

Mike has led Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties since March 2014, partnering with people in need to build and renovate decent, affordable housing. Since becoming CEO, he has helped his affiliate become the second-largest in the U.S. based on new home construction out of more than 1,300 affiliates, double the number of families served and increase revenue from $6 to $19 million. Prior to his current role, Mike spent time as the executive vice president and chief development officer at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pinellas County, director of development for Habitat for Humanity in Bryan/College Station, Texas, and has experience working for the YMCA. Mike is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) and a University of South Florida graduate.

Here’s what Mike had to share about the power of community partnerships, lessons learned from overseeing a nonprofit merger and what he has been collecting since he was a kid.

Q1. As the CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties, tell us a little bit about your organization and what drew you to serve this nonprofit.

Mike: Habitat for Humanity partners with low-income individuals and families to provide affordable housing solutions. Homeowners purchase the home from Habitat with a zero-interest mortgage, after completing 350 to 450 sweat equity hours building Habitat homes and their own home and 20 homebuyer education classes. The program provides them the opportunity to build generational wealth while breaking the cycle of poverty. 

I’ve worked for Habitat for more than 11 years (more than five years in Pinellas and West Pasco and another five in Texas). The fact the program is a true “hand up, not a hand out” is so appealing. The homeowners we partner with keep me coming back day after day.

Q2: You’ve experienced significant organizational growth since becoming CEO. What do you believe has most contributed to your success that other nonprofit leaders could benefit from knowing?

Mike: When I was hired, our board of directors was clear with me on two things: Serve more families and build long-term sustainability. The four-year strategic plan we developed kept us laser-focused on these priorities. It continues to be at the forefront of every decision we make. The deeper and wider we go in our service area, the deeper the impact we will have. 

The other factor I believe was critical is the team we’ve developed. This has come with lots of struggles along the way, but I truly feel we have the best team in place at Habitat. Our executive team is amazing; they work hard, and are here for one reason and that’s to serve more families. 

Mike Sutton and Alfredo Anthony from Habitat for Humanity on Nonprofit Leadership Center
Mike Sutton with Board Chair Alfredo Anthony

READ NEXT: 6 Ways to Improve Team Dynamics

Q3. Your organization went through a merger in 2019, combining two Habitat for Humanity offices into one brand. What were the biggest lessons you learned from this merger? What issues or questions should nonprofit leaders think about when considering a merger with another nonprofit?

Mike: The merger has been a great step toward a regional approach for Habitat for Humanity. It also provides a huge resource in Pasco County that was lacking. Looking back at what we learned, I think we rushed the process a bit because the leadership was changing. If I could go back in time, I would have slowed the process down and ensured we did more due diligence, just so we knew of any unknowns in advance. 

I also was honored to lead a second merger last year, as the Board Chairman of the Clearwater Regional Chamber. The number one driver behind both mergers was around the impact and outcomes on the clients. We moved egos and history out of the way and stayed focused on the goal. 

Q4. Community partnerships are critical to our sector’s success. You’ve experienced significant growth in community partnerships between Habitat and the business sector in recent years. What have you found to be the most effective strategies to deepen engagement with corporate and/or community partners?

Mike: Habitat is just one solution to the affordable housing crisis. History shows that Habitat in most markets tries to do it alone. We’ve focused on being a part of the discussion and having a place at the table. We’ve also focused on impact and solutions, not just talk. We hold our organization to a high standard and expect the community to also hold us to a high standard. Collaboration has been key and we are proud to work alongside the business and nonprofit sectors to advance our community. 

Q5. What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to new professionals or emerging leaders today?

Mike: Actions speak louder than words, and performance does not need to speak at all. High performance and dedication will advance your career, so find something you are passionate about and that drives you to be better each day. Be sure to surround yourself with people who lift you up and make you better. Without mentors, you will only grow so much.

Q6. Last year, you participated in NLC’s sustainability cohort, which is a small group learning environment where 10 nonprofit organizations worked together to strengthen their strategic decision-making models by aligning impact and profitability. Tell us about your experience and how you and your team are thinking differently about planning as a result.

Mike: The cohort will no doubt impact the future of Habitat for Humanity. The information we’ve learned about our organization has already impacted our business model and approach toward the future. We plan to use the matrix map and information gathered to develop our next strategic plan. 

Q7. What’s the best book on leadership or professional development you’ve read that you think every nonprofit leader should read?

Mike: I’d recommend three:

  1. “Winning with People” by John Maxwell
  2. “5 Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lincioni
  3. “What Got You Here Will Not Get You There” by Marshall Goldsmith

Q8. What’s the best movie or show you’ve watched recently?

Mike: Homeland! I watched all seven seasons in just a few months. I became a bit obsessed! 

Q9. Finish this sentence: If I wasn’t the CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties, I would be ________________.

Mike: A federal agent.

Q10. What’s something interesting about you that most people don’t know?

Mike: I have a huge baseball collection. Something that started as my father and I collecting autographs when I was a kid has resulted in more than 400 autographed baseballs. Now, I just focus on Hall of Famers, but each one has a unique story.


Would you or someone you know be a great leader to profile for an upcoming 10 Questions With Series article? Email us at info@nlctb.org with your recommendations.

READ NEXT: 10 Questions with Patricia J. Langford, CEO of Dawning Family Services

READ NEXT: 10 Questions With Emily Benham, CEO of the Nonprofit Leadership Center


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4 Tips for Breaking Bad Habits in the Workplace

Margarita Sarmiento Tips

We all know a coworker who is consistently late for meetings, a colleague who takes days to respond to emails or the team member who has a negative response for everything. Bad work habits aren’t just common; they’re harmful to every nonprofit or business. But breaking bad habits at work is possible, and it will lead to increased efficiency and effectiveness.

One of the reasons breaking bad habits is so hard is because habits often happen subconsciously. According to researchers at Duke University, habits account for about 40% of our behaviors on any given day. Only when we make a conscious decision to do something differently — and commit to doing it differently — will things change. The best way to stop bad habits is to consciously work to develop new ones.

How to Break Bad Habits at Work | Nonprofit Leadership Center

Here are four tips for breaking bad habits in the workplace.

4 Ways to Break Bad Work Habits

1. Use paper clips to take control of your daily goals.
Yes, you heard that correctly. Here’s how it works: Need to reach out to 20 donors every day? Start by placing 20 paper clips on your desk. Toss one into a drawer each time you send a donor email, make a call or mail a hand-written note continuing to cultivate the relationship. Want to read 10 articles every day to stay informed on the latest news and data on philanthropy and changing donor expectations? Start with 10 paper clips on your desk. Drop one into a cup each time you finish an article. This tactic works for any daily goal you need to accomplish with any number of paperclips.

Why does it work? You’re two to three times more likely to follow through with a habit if you make a specific plan for when, where and how you’re going to implement it. Using paperclips as visual cues, you can set daily goals and work to achieve them, breaking bad habits at work, such as disorganization or lack of focus.

2. Stop procrastinating.
What are the daily tasks you often avoid until the last minute? Perhaps it’s replying to emails, working on your budget, writing a blog post or doing employee reviews. Whatever you’re most likely to procrastinate doing is what you should get done first. To make it happen, follow these steps:

  • Identify a block of time to accomplish the tasks.  
  • Schedule the tasks on your calendar, treating them just as you would an appointment with your top donors or funders.
  • Reward yourself when the task is complete.

READ NEXT: 3 Ways to Increase Your Productivity at Work without Working More

3. Master your daily calendar.
Sometimes breaking bad habits at works starts with understanding what they are in the first place. Track how you spend your time at work for one week. Identify items that eat up your time by “popping up” throughout the day, and develop and commit to a system to effectively prioritize your workload.

  • If you realize that keeping up with notifications, social media and/or responding to “quick” emails eats up two hours each day, batch these tasks together and block off time, so you’re not checking them all day long. Perhaps use the first 10 minutes at the top of each hour or several specific times during the day to attend to these activities.
  • Identify three to four hours a week to block off on your calendar as personal Focused Work Time — for instance, 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Let others know that you prefer not to be interrupted during these times, shut off notifications and send calls to voicemail.
  • Instead of creating a “to-do list,” create a “to-do schedule.” When adding something to your workload, don’t just add it to your list, find a time to schedule it into your day.

4. Support your success.
Breaking bad habits in the workplace and establishing better ones takes time and commitment. Here are some final tips to help ensure you create lasting behavior change.

  1. Commit to 30 days. Experts tell us it takes a minimum of three weeks to establish a new habit. Once you get over the initial hump, it will be a little easier to sustain.
  2. Set reminders. Don’t depend on your yet-to-be trained memory. After the first few days, you are more likely to fall back into what’s comfortable. Set calendar reminders, your phone alarm or other prompts to help you remember to follow through with your new habit.
  3. Find an accountability partner. Ask someone you trust and will listen to, to help keep you on track. Set up times to check in with him or her, so you’re sure to be successful.

Automating behaviors in the form of habits is one of the best ways for your brain to conserve energy. You don’t have to expend effort when prompted to do things by your subconscious. Creating healthy, positive habits and learning to break bad habits at work will free up your brain to handle more complex, creative and innovative tasks.

READ NEXT: 5 Common Misconceptions about Organizational Culture


Better Habits Start Here

If you want to improve your leadership skills and habits to strengthen your nonprofit organization and community, register for an upcoming nonprofit training at the Nonprofit Leadership Center. From leadership, volunteer management and grant writing to finance and organizational culture, we’ve got the personal and professional development support to help you succeed and accelerate your mission. Learn more and register HERE.


Margarita Sarmiento has more than 25 years of management, training and facilitation experience in professional development, team building, leadership, organizational planning, board development, cross-cultural communication and diversity. She has worked in corporate management and training with Progressive Companies, Busch Entertainment Corporation and the National Conference for Community & Justice — Tampa Bay. She’s also an active trainer and facilitator for NLC.

A Day-in-the-Life of a Student Pursuing Her Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management

Jessica Dvoracsek, Fellow at NLC Stories

“Accounting is the language of business.” Although I’ve heard this phrase many times throughout my career, it has always scared me. I’m not a finance person and I have zero accounting experience. So you can imagine how nervous I felt as accounting week approached in my Certificate in Nonprofit Management graduate program at the University of Tampa. While I came in with an open mind, I expected to be lost. I’m happy to report that I not only survived but I now actually understand accounting … well, at least some of it. 

Jessica Dvoracsek talks about her experience in the University of Tampa Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership program
Me (Jessica Dvoracsek) with my NLC colleague Charlie Imbergamo

Accounting is just one of the many focus areas covered as part of the Certificate in Nonprofit Management program at UT in collaboration with the Nonprofit Leadership Center. The program is an 18-month journey in which we’re required to be on campus four times for a five-day period and then working on an innovative project for a local nonprofit organization with fellow students in between sessions. The program is designed to strengthen the effectiveness of leaders in social sector organizations in the Tampa Bay area.

John H. Sykes College of Business at the University of Tampa
Our classes are held in the John H. Sykes College of Business at the University of Tampa

I believe the beauty of this program is the way it’s taught. Each week has multiple instructors, including academic professors and practitioners in the field. Not only do students like me receive theory and the academic side of learning, but we also benefit from real-life experiences. Accounting week was taught by Dr. Maureen Butler and Sheff Crowder.

Program instructors include James Lee, Emily Benham, Jessica Muroff, Amy Harris and Sheff Crowder
Professors and professionals teach side-by-side to provide broad and deep knowledge on the nonprofit sector (From left to right: Professor James Lee, Instructor Emily H. Benham, FAHP, CFRE, CEO of NLC, Guest Speaker Jessica Muroff, CEO of United Way Suncoast, Professor Amy Harris and Instructor Sheff Crowder, president of the Conn Memorial Foundation)

READ NEXT: Is a graduate certificate in nonprofit management right for you?

What’s a week on campus like?

During our most recent week on campus, we began with a brief overview of what to expect from the week ahead, including an overview of accounting, financial reporting, budgets and cost analysis, and functional expenses (which is specific to nonprofits). Throughout the rest of the week, we covered cost accounting, management tools, evaluations and accountability, and internal controls. We also presented to a panel of experts to discuss the financial considerations associated with our innovative projects. 

Here is an example of some of the things we discussed that week:

  1. The difference between cash and accrual accounting — We learned to recognize revenues and expenses when cash is exchanged versus recognizing it when it’s earned or the benefit is received.
  2. Debits versus credits — “Debits on the left, credits on the right, for complete satisfaction balance all of your transactions.”
  3. Functional expense reporting
  4. Different ways to use excel

Probably one of the statements I appreciated most was: “We aren’t trying to make you CPAs or accountants. We are trying to give you the tools to read budgets and cash flow, functional expense reports, and other critical documents so you can ask the correct questions when something looks off.” The Certificate in Nonprofit Management graduate program is designed to strengthen the effectiveness of nonprofit leaders, not create experts. While we didn’t learn four years of an accounting degree in five days, we did learn how to read spreadsheets and understand the information to be able to ask the correct questions as future nonprofit leaders. Other focus areas of the program include effective board governance, strategic planning, marketing and fund development, developing a business plan and growing your leadership potential.

Tom Peters said, “Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” As a student in the Certificate in Nonprofit Management program at UT, I believe this is exactly what I’m learning. Participating as a student is helping me foster the leadership skills that will allow me to contribute to the continued growth and impact of our sector and community.

I’m sharing a little more about the experience and benefits I’m already receiving (and so you can get to know me a little better). Watch now.

Take Your Career to the Next Level with a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management

If you’re ready to grow in your career or are an emerging nonprofit leader, getting your graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the University of Tampa can prepare you to lead courageously and competently in our dynamically changing nonprofit sector.

Find out if a graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management is right for you and what other students are saying here.

Learn more about the program and how to apply here.

New Certificate in Leadership Program Will Prepare Nonprofit Leaders for Greater Success and Impact

Team NLC News

The greatest threat to the future of our nonprofit sector is leadership. It’s also our greatest opportunity. Culture, performance, morale and impact are all dependent on strong leadership. Yet very little exists in our community today to cultivate and equip nonprofit professionals who are transitioning into new leadership roles. That’s why we’re pleased to announce a bold new initiative that will prepare nonprofit leaders to move our sector and community forward — capably and courageously.

Today we gathered with dozens of nonprofit and business leaders at the Nonprofit Leadership Center to announce our new Certificate in Leadership.

This 10-week program, made possible with generous support from Florida Blue, will prepare and empower nonprofit professionals who are new to managing people or programs to effectively lead in our dynamically changing sector.

Visionary partnerships drive innovation solutions at NLC.

More than a learning and networking program, the Certificate in Leadership is a true experience through which participants will embrace the qualities and skills necessary to lead their organizations and our community with authenticity and impact.

Nominate a Leader Now for the Certificate in Leadership Program

Closing the Leadership Gap

Research shows that nonprofit professionals want to grow their leadership skills, yet more than half don’t feel they have the knowledge, experience and resources to be successful (ProInspire). Organizations often promote individual contributors to manage others and oversee programs based on excellent performance — without receiving the training, development and support necessary to do so effectively.

Last year, we interviewed local nonprofit leaders to better understand their current realities and needs. A resounding theme was the gap that exists in supporting nonprofit professionals who are transitioning into leadership and executive roles.

There is a great need to focus on emerging leaders in this community.

The Certificate in Leadership will help bridge the gap in Tampa Bay by providing aspiring leaders who are new to managerial or executive roles the support they need to be effective.

Powered Through Partnership

NLC’s new Certificate in Leadership program was made possible with generous support from Florida Blue — a strategic NLC partner and health insurance provider that’s committed to helping people and communities achieve better health.

NLC and Florida Blue logos: A partnership to develop emerging nonprofit leaders in Tampa Bay

“To make the biggest impact in our communities, nonprofits need strong leaders who understand the importance of strategic thinking, collaboration, empathy and innovation. Florida Blue is excited to partner with NLC to create a program that instills these values through courses that delve into self-awareness, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, data analytics, conflict resolution and more.”

David Pizzo, Market President, West Florida
Michelle Hamilton, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at Florida Blue, Mary Lallucci, NLC Board Chair, David Pizzo, Market President, West Florida at Florida Blue, and Emily Benham, CEO of NLC
From left to right: Michelle Hamilton, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at Florida Blue, Mary Lallucci, NLC Board Chair, David Pizzo, Market President, West Florida at Florida Blue, and Emily Benham, CEO of NLC

Together with Florida Blue’s support, NLC will offer a Certificate in Leadership cohort each year for the next three years, equipping 100 total nonprofit professionals with the content and skills necessary to lead with a mission heart and a keen focus on innovative, creative and collaborative solutions to advance organizational and systems change.

David Pizzo acknowledges the strength and support the NLC Certificate in Leadership will bring to Tampa Bay's nonprofit sector

More Details & How to Apply

Learn more about the new Certificate in Leadership here, including the nomination and application process, timeline and class schedule, trainers, requirements and more. Here’s what you need to know at a glance:

WHAT: Consists of five half-day training sessions, four virtual group coaching sessions, two follow-up classroom trainings and a virtual follow-up coaching session. Upon receiving the Certificate in Leadership, nonprofit leaders will:

  • Understand their leadership style, learn how to manage their organizational responsibilities and develop a plan to enhance their skills
  • Identify and improve their leadership capabilities and people management skills while developing varying methods to overcome day-to-day obstacles
  • Respond authentically to the changes and challenges facing today’s nonprofit leaders and organizations

WHEN: The 2020 Certificate in Leadership program begins on May 5 and runs through July. Here are the key dates:

  • February 5-28: Organizations nominate leaders to participate
  • March 6-27: Nominees complete applications
  • April: NLC and Florida Blue select and announce participants
  • May 5: Program begins with Session 1: The Conscious Leader 
  • May 19: Session 2: The Emotionally Intelligent Leader 
  • June 16: Session 3: The Connected Leader
  • June 30: Session 4: The Data-Driven Leader 
  • July 14: Final Session and Graduation

WHO: Candidates must meet the following criteria:

  • Be new to their position (three years or less) in managing people or programs. Examples include a CEO or executive director who has just joined an organization, a first-time manager who’s learning how to supervise and mentor others or a professional who has recently assumed oversight for a program or department.
  • Commit to attending all sessions on the published dates.
  • Have the support from executive staff and senior leaders to attend, practice and implement what they’re learning through the program.

NOMINATE A LEADER NOW

For More Information

For questions and more information about the new Certificate in Leadership, contact us at info@nlctb.org or 813-287-8779.


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A Fresh Face at NLC: Meet Carina Kleter

Team NLC News

“Everyone is doing the best they can with the tools they have. Not only should we show ourselves and others compassion, but we must consistently strive for better tools and help those around us do the same.”

This is Carina Kleter’s mantra in life, but it also describes the work she’ll be doing to support our nonprofit community as NLC’s new program associate.

Carina Kleter, Program Associate, NLC

In her role as program associate, Carina will coordinate and optimize the delivery of our professional development offerings, including classroom trainings, conferences, custom training solutions and peer-based cohorts. If you attend any NLC events or call our office, chances are that Carina will support you in some way.

Carina is a skilled project coordinator with a personal and professional passion for nonprofit organizations. She comes to NLC from a Brooklyn-based nonprofit where she served as grants coordinator, raising funds to support arts-based diversion programs for teens. She has also managed projects in higher education, architecture and IT consulting.

“Nonprofit organizations are a lifeline for communities — sometimes the only lifeline they have. It’s critical that our nonprofit community has the organizational resources and strength it needs to deliver services to individuals and families. I feel truly honored to be part of a team that supports the development of nonprofit leaders, and through them, strengthens the communities we serve.”  

Carina Kleter

Carina’s academic background and personal interest in psychology and philosophy drive her ability to meaningfully connect with people and critically facilitate projects with a solutions-oriented eye. In addition to her professional commitment to our nonprofit sector, she volunteers in her personal time with local organizations, including the University Area Community Development Center.

Outside the office, you’re likely to find Carina on the mat practicing yoga. She’s a 200-hour registered yoga teacher who is passionate about peacebuilding and compassionate or Nonviolent Communication (NVC).

Please join us in welcoming Carina Kleter to the Nonprofit Leadership Center team.

To reach Carina, contact her via email or call 813-287-8779.

Striving for MOMENTUM in 2020

Emily H. Benham, CEO, NLC Stories

Research shows that our human attention spans are less than that of a goldfish — about eight seconds. True story! As our share of mind continues to shrink, it’s no surprise that the idea of New Year’s resolutions are shrinking as well. Somewhere along the way, Americans started trading our once lengthy resolution lists in for one-word mantras to define our year. Guilty as charged.

As lifelong learners at NLC, we had to find out where this tradition originated. While the answer remains somewhat of a mystery, we did uncover that selecting a word of the year (a word that defined public use or culture during the year) is a German tradition that started in 1971. (You can thank Wikipedia for that trivia answer.)  Today, we choose all sorts of sentiments to define our desired intentions, behaviors and actions.

At our first 2020 board of directors meeting, our volunteer leaders decided to adopt a word for NLC. Our new board chair Mary Lallucci, the executive vice president of talent management and an executive coach with Right Management’s Florida/Caribbean Region, asked everyone to think about the word that should define our organization this year — something we can all embrace and work toward together, not just as individual parts.

NLC Board Chair Mary Lallucci leading her first meeting of 2020
Mary leading NLC’s first board meeting of 2020

Many words came out of this discussion, as you can see from this lovely word cloud that summarizes the comments.

NLC's word cloud of 2020 intentions

But the word that rose to the top was MOMENTUM. As a nonprofit that exists to support other nonprofits, Mary emphasized our responsibility to be relentless in our commitment to increase our impact and build on our great successes from 2019 to strengthen our sector and community.

“We are excited to take all the work we have done and keep up the momentum to continue to raise the bar at NLC!

Mary Lallucci

So what does “momentum” look like? Here’s what we pledge to do as your nonprofit partner in 2020 to keep up the momentum:

  • Increase our presence in Pinellas County, while enhancing the robust training classes we offer at our training center in Tampa
  • Lead courageously by bringing nonprofit leaders the best content, programming and speakers at the 10th anniversary of our Leadership Conference in June
  • Establish new partnerships and enhance existing ones with funders like Florida Blue, Conn Memorial Foundation, the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, United Way and more to bring new opportunities and possibilities to nonprofits to strengthen our community
  • Focus even more deeply on building relationships and listening and responding to our community’s needs
  • Increase our board’s engagement with our mission
NLC CEO Emily Benham with Board Chair Mary Lallucci excited about momentum
Mary and me (Emily Benham, CEO, NLC) during NLC’s first board meeting of 2020

In addition to thinking about your word for 2020, we encourage you to think about the word that will define your team and organization — the intention you can rally around together to improve our lives, organizations and communities. We’re excited for all that’s in store for nonprofits in Tampa Bay during the year and decade ahead.


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Announcing the 2020 NLC Leadership Conference

Team NLC News

Drum roll please … (cue energetic finger tapping on our desks and a quick toss of confetti). Registration is now open for NLC’s 2020 Leadership Conference, presented by Bank of America. We have an impressive line-up of speakers, breakouts and surprises prepared for you as we celebrate our 10th anniversary of this unprecedented gathering of nonprofit leaders.

Today, we’re sharing all the important conference information and unveiling this year’s conference theme and keynote speaker. (Excited is an understatement.)

If you only have 30 seconds, watch this video. Otherwise, continue reading for all the juicy details.

The Details

When is the conference?
The 2020 NLC Leadership Conference is on Thursday, June 11, 2020.

Save the date for the 2020 NLC Leadership Conference

Where is the conference?
We’re pleased to host the 2020 Leadership Conference at a new venue this year — the Tampa Marriott Water Street — a beautifully redesigned waterfront hotel that’s just steps away from the Tampa Riverwalk (with plenty of parking).

Tampa Marriott Water Street
505 Water St. | Tampa, FL

Who should attend?
The NLC Leadership Conference is the premier event in Tampa Bay for anyone who works for a nonprofit, wants to work for a nonprofit, serves as a nonprofit board leader or partners with nonprofits. Join 700 nonprofit and business leaders to learn from and connect with each other as we work to strengthen our skills, our organizations and our communities.

If you’re on the fence or not sure what to expect, check out the highlights from last year’s conference.

How can I register?
Register on our Website here. Register by April 1, 2020, to take advantage of early-bird pricing. There are ticket options for individuals as well as nonprofit and for-profit table pricing.

This conference will sell out, so be sure to secure your spot now!

Register for the NLC 2020 Leadership Conference Now

What does my conference ticket include?
Your ticket includes parking, your choice of two breakout sessions, lunch, dessert, a presentation from our keynote speaker and a FREE copy of his newest book (keep reading to see who it is and the book you’ll receive).

How can I learn more about sponsorship opportunities?
Thank you for your interest in supporting this year’s conference. Find all 2020 Leadership Conference sponsorship opportunities here. For more information, contact Jess Dvoracsek.


Now that we’ve gotten all the details and fine print out of the way, it’s time for the exciting announcements.

2020 Leadership Conference Theme Revealed

Our sector and society are experiencing unprecedented change and uncertainty. Donor needs and expectations have evolved. Technology is advancing at lightspeed. Corporate partners want to see a return on investment for every dollar they contribute. Fundraising is a completely new ballgame. And the communications channels to reach today’s supporters are more crowded than ever before. Strategies that worked in the past will not work in the future if we want to advance our collective missions and acquire and inspire the next generation of donors. The status quo simply won’t stand. That’s why this year’s conference theme is LEAD COURAGEOUSLY.

Lead Courageously at NLC's 2020 Leadership Conference

Thinking differently and acting boldly requires courageous leadership — the kind of leadership that will define the best nonprofit leaders in our region and across the nation. Leading courageously is about adapting to our changing environment and resource constraints, moving from knowing to doing and growing from good to great. It means modeling the change we want to see in the world — from creating healthy workplace cultures, championing diversity, equity and inclusion and articulating our impact in terms of outcomes, not just outputs. Change and growth take courage. The 10th anniversary NLC Leadership Conference will tackle how to be and become courageous nonprofit leaders, facilitated by leading experts and change agents. Stay tuned for a full list of speakers and breakout sessions we’ll be announcing soon!

Are you ready to lead courageously? Secure your spot now.

READ NEXT: 4 Essential Skills to be a Courageous Leader in 2020

And the Keynote Speaker Is …

We’re thrilled to announce that the keynote speaker for the 2020 NLC Leadership Conference is Neil Pasricha, New York Times bestselling author of six books, including “The Book of Awesome” (gratitude), “The Happiness Equation” (happiness) and “You Are Awesome” (resilience).

Neil Pasricha

Neil is a positive psychology researcher who focuses on the relationship between happiness and leadership in business and is touted as one of the world’s leading authorities on intentional living. 

In 2008, Neil’s world unraveled after a sudden divorce and death of a close friend. These events inspired him to start a blog called 1,000 Awesome Things where he documented one small pleasure — like finding unexpected money in your coat pocket — every single day for 1,000 straight days. While writing his blog, Pasricha was working as director of leadership development at Walmart, where he spent a decade after graduating from Harvard with his MBA.

Neil Pasricha speaking

Years later, Neil got remarried and learned from his wife that she was pregnant. Neil began writing a letter to his unborn son. The result was 300 pages that became his book “The Happiness Equation,” sharing nine secrets to find true happiness.

Today, Neil shares his wisdom with hundreds of thousands of people across the globe, speaking everywhere from Fortune 100 companies and Ivy League schools to royal families. His first TED Talk — “The 3 A’s of Awesome” — ranked as one of the 10 most inspiring of all time.

Yes, Tampa Bay … you’re in for a real treat.

And if that’s not amazing enough, Neil is giving a FREE copy of his most recent book “You Are Awesome” to everyone who attends this year’s conference. Run, don’t walk, to register now.

You Are Awesome by Neil Pasricha

Thank You to Our Sponsors

NLC’s Leadership Conference would not be possible without the generous support of our passionate partners who believe in the importance and impact of our nonprofit community. We’d like to extend a special thank-you to our presenting sponsor Bank of America, our lead conference supporter every year since the conference began in 2011.

We can’t wait to introduce you to all the conference sponsors in the coming weeks.


Want to be the first to know about 2020 Leadership Conference announcements, breakout sessions, speakers and messages from our Keynote Speaker Neil Pasricha? Sign up for our email list and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.

10 Questions with Patricia J. Langford, CEO of Dawning Family Services

Team NLC Stories

At the Nonprofit Leadership Center, we believe the best lessons in nonprofit leadership come from nonprofit leaders themselves. Our 10 Questions With Series celebrates and elevates nonprofit and business leaders across the Tampa Bay region each month who are making an enduring impact on our communities. Today, we’re pleased to introduce you to Patricia J. Langford, the CEO of Dawning Family Services (formerly the Alpha House of Tampa).

Patricia J. Langford, CEO of Dawning Family Services in Tampa, Florida

Pat has been at the helm of Dawning Family Services since 2010, responsible for overseeing programs and services for pregnant homeless women and homeless families with minor children. Most recently, she led the organization through a multi-pronged brand transformation and mission expansion, including a physical move and construction of a new shelter. 

Pat is an experienced and proactive leader with more than 25 years of experience in the design, management and administration of housing programs and support services for youth and homeless individuals and families and victims of domestic violence.

Here’s what Pat had to share about how to engage today’s donors, what nonprofit leaders should consider before a brand revitalization and the moment that changed her life in 2001.

Q1: As the CEO of Dawning Family Services, tell us about your organization and what drew you to serve this nonprofit.

Pat: Dawning Family Services provides short-term emergency shelter for families with at least one minor child that are seeking refuge from the storm of homelessness. To our knowledge, we are the only known low-barrier and Equal Access Rule compliant family shelter in Hillsborough County. (The Equal Access Rule was established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development — HUD — in 2016 that requires shelter owners/operators/managers who receive HUD Community Planning and Development funding to grant equal access to their facilities in accordance with an individual’s gender identity.)

Every family deserves an opportunity to redefine their future. For me, this is all about social justice. That’s a big part of what drew me to Dawning Family Services. Your present situation does not have to define your future. Your future is what you’re willing to work hard to achieve. Our families deserve a shot at success. Moving into our shelter from living in a car or sleeping on a park bench and then quickly moving into permanent housing offers opportunities that so many of us take for granted.

Patricia Langford says that your present situation doesn't have to define your future.

Dawning Family Services recently expanded our services to include families and not just pregnant women and mothers with young children. By expanding our mission to serve entire families, we’re taking a holistic approach to ending homelessness. The families we serve in shelter receive essential services, including case management, financial assistance to quickly move into permanent housing (e.g., benefits, rent, utilities) and post-shelter supportive services to ensure self-sufficiency. We also have two Rapid Re-Housing programs. The first serves clients in our emergency shelter and the second is for families who are on the Hillsborough County’s Coordinated Entry List. Through partnership-building with landlords and property managers, we’ve become adept at finding permanent housing opportunities for families who have the extra challenge of one or more evictions in their history and for those who have non-violent felonies. 

Q2: Your organization recently underwent a significant rebranding effort, including a new name, logo and revitalized mission focus. What lessons did you learn from this experience, and what advice would you share with other nonprofits considering an organizational rebrand?

Pat: It’s labor-intensive to take on so much at once, but it’s also exhilarating! In a nutshell, we completely refreshed an organization that has been in the Hillsborough County community for more than 35 years. For other nonprofits considering an identity revitalization, I would recommend the following:

  1. Stay laser-focused on the “what” and the “why” behind your rebrand. What do you hope to accomplish by rebranding? What messages are you trying to convey? Why should you rebrand, and why now? 
  2. Allow adequate time for the necessary due diligence when selecting a communications partner/firm. We were incredibly fortunate to have been at the right place at the right time with our rebranding efforts. We met SPARK through our board’s Public Relations Task Force when researching PR firms. SPARK mentioned STOKED, a pro-bono nonprofit rebrand competition. Every year, the SPARK team selects a nonprofit to rebrand for free. A board member completed the STOKED application, and we were overjoyed that they chose us as the 2018 recipient. Although we won the pro-bono competition, SPARK really understood us — who we are, what we do and what we provide.
  3. Ensure your entire organization understands why you are rebranding, the steps along the way and receives communications throughout the process, including your board, staff and supporters.

Q3: Dawning Family Services recently announced a capital campaign to raise $8 million to expand the care and support you provide to the families you serve. As donors’ needs and expectations continue to evolve in our ever-changing world, what do you think are the most important ways to secure major gifts today? 

Pat: I believe nonprofits must provide as many opportunities as possible for individuals in the community to hear about the project and to connect in a way that is personally meaningful to them. Donors need to know how and why families benefit from our unique services and the pressing need to expand our shelter capacity and ancillary services. I want our donors to feel a strong connection to who we are and what we offer and to understand that they can be part of ending a family’s homelessness and the potential impact that will have on future generations. The community engagement process must cover multiple facets, as access to information must be presented in numerous ways — from social media and website updates to personal property tours, customized letters and board member connections. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to donor engagement.

Q4. What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to new professionals or emerging leaders today?

Pat: Allow yourself the time to discover what truly ignites your passion.

Q5. Last year, your organization participated in NLC’s sustainability cohort, which is a small group learning environment where 10 nonprofit organizations worked together with their leaders to strengthen strategic decision-making models by aligning impact and profitability. Tell us about your experience and how, if at all, you and your team are thinking differently about planning as a result.

Pat: Participating in the sustainability cohort through NLC has been a fantastic opportunity. We’ve already made decisions based on what we’ve learned. Moving forward, it will impact future decisions about the programs we offer, the services we provide, funding streams we pursue and more. It forced us (in a good way) to think critically about the financial viability and mission impact of our current programs and services and how those elements must be at the forefront as we plan for the future. We’re embedding the strategic decision-making model we learned through the program in our organizational goals for 2020. I also had the opportunity to attend Harvard Business School’s Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management program last summer, and we’ve added what I learned there to our current planning efforts.

Q6. When you’re not working with your team to help women and families in need, what are you most passionate about in your everyday life?

Pat: I’m passionate about physical activity and strive to integrate cardio exercise into my schedule at least five days a week to improve my physical and mental health. Throughout my long career in the nonprofit sector, exercise has always been a huge stress reliever. Plus, as an introvert, taking those long solitary walks is how I re-energize. 

Additionally, my husband and I head to Longboat Key whenever we can get a few days away. It’s our happy place. We also enjoy a round of golf when time allows.

Q7. What’s the best book you’ve read recently? 

Pat: I’m an avid reader, mostly fiction mysteries or fun beach reads. I just finished reading “The Less They Know About Us” by Axton Betz-Hamilton. It’s a true-crime memoir about how a devastating and mysterious identity theft affected a woman and her parents.

Q8. What’s the best movie or Netflix/Amazon Prime show you’ve watched recently?

Pat: I’m mostly watching whatever is on TV to get me through a workout on the stationary bike or rowing machine.

Q9. Finish this sentence: If I weren’t the CEO of Dawning Family Services, I would be ______________.

Pat: I would be the owner or general manager of a professional sports team. I grew up watching sports with my Dad, and being connected with a sports team as an owner or general manager is a fun fantasy. 

Q10. What’s something interesting about you that most people don’t know?

Pat: I am an only child, a former lifeguard, a Pastor’s wife, a dog lover with a 165-pound English Mastiff named Boo, and a native New Yorker who lived in Brooklyn, the Lower East Side, Greenwich Village and the Bronx, as well as “upstate” Chester. 

I also spent several years living and working in New Jersey. In 2001, I was working on West 14th Street in New York City, where I watched the 9/11 terrorist attack unfold from my office window. My office was about one mile away from the World Trade Center and I can remember exactly where I was and who I was speaking to when the first plane hit. I watched the buildings collapse. It was surreal and something that only those who personally witnessed the attack can fully understand. The terrifying events from that day and the tragically sad and scary days that followed have left an indelible mark on my life. 


Would you or someone you know be a great leader to profile for an upcoming 10 Questions With Series article? Email us at info@nlctb.org with your recommendations.

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