WATCH: A Quick Start Guide to Succession Planning for Nonprofits

Charlie Imbergamo | Director of Strategic Programs Resources

Every time a nonprofit has a transition at the CEO level, this shift in leadership impacts the organization’s financial stability, strategic direction and employee engagement. But a 2017 survey found that only 27% of nonprofit organizations have a succession plan.

In this video, you will learn how to develop a robust succession plan for your nonprofit that addresses the three key aspects of succession planning: 1) emergency, 2) leader development and 3) departure defined. You’ll understand the guiding principles of succession planning, know the key strategies to execute and sustain a quality succession plan, and be ready to create a meaningful succession plan using an adaptable framework.

After watching this video, you will:

  • Understand the guiding principles of succession planning
  • Know the key strategies to execute and sustain a quality succession plan
  • Be ready to create a meaningful succession plan using an adaptable framework

Download the resources shared during this presentation:

More About the Presenter

Amy Haile

Amy Haile is the executive director of Champions for Children, Inc., the Tampa Bay region’s leading agency focused exclusively on the prevention of child abuse and neglect, which is accomplished through evidence-based and research-informed family education programs that promote positive parenting and child development. 

Amy blends 30 years of private and public service experience with advanced degrees in behavioral science and is a proud alumni of the Nonprofit Leadership Center’s Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management program from the University of Tampa. Her role as a peer reviewer for the Council on Accreditation allows her to witness how other family-serving organizations are innovating and implementing best practices across the country. Amy is completing her final requirements for a doctor of public health degree from the University of South Florida, where she has focused her research on succession planning in nonprofit organizations.

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Humanity, Delivered

Team NLC News

In a year that has been more complicated and challenging than most, all you have to do is turn to the words of Dr. Alex Harris to remember that we are all human … and that the best of humanity exists within our nonprofit sector.

At the Nonprofit Leadership Center’s 2020 Leadership Conference, Arts Conservatory for Teens Co-founder and CEO Dr. Alex Harris gave a jaw-dropping, inspirational performance that brings hope and healing to us all. In addition to being a nonprofit executive, Dr. Alex is also a singer/songwriter and Orchard/Cross the Line Music/SONY Music Entertainment recording artist with four #1 singles.

We hope you enjoy the performance of his original song Humanity. Take a mindfulness moment to reset your perspective and your day with his message and melody.

Be the first to hear about the latest nonprofit tips, resources and training classes at NLC. Sign up to receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter to help you thrive personally and professionally. 

Applications Open for 2021-22 Certificate in Nonprofit Management Graduate Program at UT

Team NLC News

Are you a nonprofit leader or aspiring nonprofit professional who’s ready to take your career to the next level but aren’t sure how? A graduate certificate in nonprofit management is a powerful way to enhance your growth and impact. The Nonprofit Leadership Center offers a Certificate in Nonprofit Management program in collaboration with the University of Tampa.

University of Tampa: Home to NLC's Certificate in Nonprofit Management graduate program

Certificate candidates are immersed in a life-changing experience alongside other leaders, honing their skills in strategic thinking; marketing, research and communications; accounting and financial management; and leadership and innovation. The program typically begins in May each year and consists of four required in-person seminar series during a 15-month period. It culminates with students presenting a business plan to a group of nonprofit and community leaders for evaluation as the final step to receiving their certificate.

Applications Now Open for 2021-22 Certificate Program

If you’re ready to take your career as a nonprofit leader to the next step, it’s time to apply for the 2021-22 Certificate in Nonprofit Management program at the University of Tampa. Applications are open, and the deadline to apply is March 1, 2021. Accepted candidates will be notified in April 2021, and the program will begin in May 2021.


Application requirements include:

  • $40 non-refundable application fee
  • Four-year undergraduate degree
  • Official transcripts from previous college work
  • Two professional references
  • Professional résumé documenting relevant work experience
  • A personal statement describing your professional goals and how a graduate certificate from UT will help you accomplish those goals as well as what you will contribute in turn


Have questions? Email us at, or contact our friends at the University of Tampa at 813-258-7409 or

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

READ NEXT: A day-in-the-life of a working Certificate in Nonprofit Management student

If You Want to Be a Courageous Leader, Do These Three Things

Team NLC Tips

From an early age, we’re told that if we work hard, we’ll be successful, and if we’re successful, we’ll be happy. But according to positive psychology researcher and bestselling author Neil Pasricha, that model is backwards. Neil says that being happy is what leads people to do great work, and great work creates success.

Be Happy > Great Work > Big Success // Neil Pasricha at NLC's 2020 Leadership Conference

Neil believes this so much that he’s dedicated his life to studying happiness, writing books about how to be awesome and helping leaders be more courageous.

At the Nonprofit Leadership Center’s 2020 Leadership Conference, Neil shared three tools to help everyone lead courageously. You can implement these practical and tactical tips immediately into your everyday life to become a better leader now.

1. Start your day with a two-minute morning.

Raise your hand if you sleep within 10 feet of your phone. Ten inches is probably more like it. The majority of people sleep beside their phone, compelling most of us to start our day by immediately turning on our screen and looking at information on our phones rather than being truly intentional about the day ahead.

Neil suggests moving your phone out of your bedroom (use your watch or a real clock for your alarm) and replace it with a notebook to start your day with two minutes of intention.

What is a two-minute morning?

Every morning when you wake up, write down these three things:

  • I will let go of ______________.
  • I am grateful for __________________.  (Make sure this is specific. For example, not just “I’m grateful for my family,” but “I’m grateful for eating breakfast together as a family today.”)
  • I will focus on ____________________. (Research from the University of Florida shows that the average person makes 200 decisions per day. The cognitive load on our brains is too much. Carve out one thing from your endless to-do list to complete first, and bonus points for doing the annoying things that we often put off, first.)
Neil Pasricha shares his two-minute morning routine at NLC's 2020 Leadership Conference

We’re awake for 1,000 minutes per day. Take two minutes to be intentional about the other 998 minutes you’re awake.

2. Have a weird hobby.

As human beings get really good at one thing, it is harder for us to do other things better. When you do the same thing over and over again, it can be hard to see other ways to do things. That’s why Neil suggests taking up an unusual, weird or strange hobby. Bird watching? Knitting? Badminton anyone?

Research shows that Nobel Prize winners are 23 times more likely to have a strange, unsual or weird hobby outside their scientific discipline. Now is the time to do something you’ve never done before that you’re not good at yet. If you’re getting good at what you’re doing, add something you aren’t good at to increase your learning rate.

3. Go untouchable.

Disappear from all digital devices and anything that plugs into the wall or has a screen for a minimum of one hour before bedtime. Instead, read 20 pages of a book (yes, a real one) that takes you away (books on leadership or your area of expertise don’t count). Reading literary fiction opens up empathy, compassion and understanding, while not looking at a screen will help you sleep better.

“The goal is not to be perfect; it’s just to be a little better than before.”

Neil Pasricha
Neil Pasricha at NLC's 2020 Leadership Conference

READ NEXT: The 15-Minute Routine That Will Make You a Better Leader

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2020 State of the Nonprofit Sector: Where We Are and Where We Go Next

Team NLC News

Despite what has been one of the most challenging years in recent history, 2020 has revealed that the nonprofit sector represents what is possible and positive in our world. During the Nonprofit Leadership Center’s 2020 Leadership Conference on October 13, NLC CEO Emily H. Benham, FAHP, CFRE, gave an encouraging report about the state of the nonprofit sector.

“When I think about the nonprofit sector, our response, our creativity, and how we develop and strengthen communities through our individual and collective actions, I am inspired by our courage — not just during this time, but consistently at all times. May we all continue to lead courageously in the days ahead.”

— Emily H. Benham, FAHP, CFRE

Watch her 10-minute report now:

In this video, you will hear:

  • Why nonprofit leaders are critical first responders
  • The top three issues facing nonprofit leaders today
  • How the sector currently measures up when it comes to racial equity, diversity and inclusion
  • What the path forward looks like for nonprofits and what’s next

“Courage is the most important of the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”

— Maya Angelou

READ NEXT: What Does it Mean to Lead Courageously?

Be the first to hear about the latest nonprofit tips, resources and training classes at NLC. Sign up to receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter to help you thrive personally and professionally. 

How to Calculate the Value of Volunteer Time

Sara Leonard, MBA, CFRE Tips

Some things in life are hard to put a value on — love, passion, dedication, selflessness. These are all attributes volunteers embody, but how can nonprofits determine the value of a volunteer hour?

Each year, Independent Sector gathers data and conducts research on volunteerism in the nonprofit sector. The results of that research provide nonprofits a way to calculate the value of volunteer time. As of July 2020, their estimated national value of each volunteer hour is currently $27.20.

The value of a volunteer hour is $27.20.

Why does knowing the value of volunteer time matter?

Understanding the value of volunteers to nonprofit organizations is important because it helps leaders and organizations make a case for volunteer programs, appropriately budget and understand the financial value of what is often perceived as “free” labor.

Additionally, volunteer work varies widely across organizations and functional areas. Some volunteers provide the lowest skilled work while others require extensive training. Recently, my teenage daughter waved a sign outside a food distribution event. Conversely, my nephew is a doctor and volunteers regularly by providing medical support. Is there a difference in the value of volunteer time if a nonprofit had to pay for it? Certainly. Independent Sector does extensive research to factor in those variations, and their estimated national value is a figure your organization can use with confidence when determining the value of volunteer time. 

“Volunteers in the United States are 63 million strong and hold up the foundation of civil society. They help their neighbors, serve their communities and provide their expertise. No matter what kind of volunteer work they do, they are contributing in invaluable ways.”

— Independent Sector

Volunteer work strengthens nonprofit organizations and our communities. Volunteers change lives, and this volunteer hour calculator will help you show the strong business case for volunteers within your organization.

READ NEXT: 5 Creative Ways to Recognize Volunteers

Get Your Certificate in Volunteer Management

The Certificate in Volunteer Management from the Nonprofit Leadership Center prepares nonprofit leaders and volunteer managers to better recruit, retain and reward their volunteers in light of today’s challenges and ever-changing environment. The curriculum is designed by Hands On Network and facilitated by NLC Trainer Sara Leonard, MBA, CFREThrough three interactive, high-energy virtual workshops, you’ll learn comprehensive strategies and techniques to use immediately at your organization in the following areas:

  • Understanding volunteering: Current trends and motivations
  • Planning your volunteer program
  • Recruiting and placing volunteers
  • Orienting and training volunteers
  • Supervising volunteers
  • Evaluating your volunteer program

Upon completion of this program, you will receive the Florida Association for Volunteer Resource Management Certificate. Attendance at all three sessions, completion of assignments and passing module tests are required to earn the certificate.

REGISTER: Spring 2021 Volunteer Management Certificate: April 15, 22 & 29

REGISTER: Fall 2021 Volunteer Management Certificate: September 15, 22 & 29

Sara Leonard, MBA, CFRE, is a solutions-oriented advancement professional with more than 25 years of experience in nonprofit development and administration. Her company, the Sara Leonard Group, provides consulting, coaching and training to fundraisers, CEOs and nonprofit board members. Prior to launching her consultancy in 2015, Sara worked in the nonprofit sector raising funds for health care, educational and cultural organizations. She is also a former employee of the Nonprofit Leadership Center and continues to facilitate classes in fund development for NLC. Sara is widely considered an expert in crisis fundraising and has guided organizations through capital campaigns, both large and small. She received her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Tampa and an MBA from the University of South Florida. She’s a Certified Fundraising Executive and has been named as a Master Trainer by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Sara serves on the board of directors of the Suncoast Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and New Tampa Young Life. She lives in Tampa with her husband and two children.

Want to be the first to hear about the latest nonprofit tips, resources and training classes at NLC? Sign up to receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter to help you thrive personally and professionally. 

10 Reasons to Attend the 10th Anniversary Leadership Conference on October 13

Team NLC News

It’s almost time! On October 13, 2020, nonprofit and business leaders from across the nation will come together virtually to explore how to lead courageously through some of the greatest challenges of our time at the Nonprofit Leadership Center’s 2020 Leadership Conference.

Watch the sneak peek that the conference speakers put together for you:

Now that you’re totally inspired, here are 10 additional reasons you can’t miss the Nonprofit Leadership Center’s 10th Anniversary Leadership Conference: Lead Courageously.

10. You can participate from anywhere.

With the 2020 Leadership Conference livestreamed virtually this year, you can participate from anywhere in the world. Whether you’re logging in from your office, the desk in your guest room, your kitchen table or living room sofa, you’ll be transported to a digital destination full of inspiration, motivation and collaboration. It also means you can trade in business attire for yoga pants (or no pants at all). We won’t judge.

9. This will not be another Zoom call.

If you’re like us, the world of webinars and Zoom meetings has us craving something new. That’s why this year’s virtual Leadership Conference is breaking the traditional mold and will be like nothing you’ve experienced yet. Keynote speakers and breakout sessions will be alongside a live musical performance, meditation moment and other fun surprises that will keep you on the edge of your seat. See the full agenda here.

8. You’ll receive expert advice on happiness and awesomeness, two things we could all use more of right now.

Neil Pasricha, keynote speaker at NLC's 2020 Leadership Conference

This year’s keynote speaker, Neil Pasricha, 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. He is a New York Times bestselling author of six books, including “The Book of Awesome,” “The Happiness Equation” and “You Are Awesome.” He got famous after documenting 1,000 awesome things for 1,000 consecutive days. After leading through (read: surviving) 2020, you deserve to focus on all things happy and awesome right now.

7. It’s BYOC

With no hotel ballroom to gather in this year, you can Bring Your Own Coffee (BYOC). Also, you’re free from any chance of being faced with dry rolls, overcooked chicken or the temptation to devour a larger than life slice of cake that’s waiting for you before you even eat your salad. You’re welcome.

6. Breakout sessions: You won’t want to choose just one (and you don’t have to).

This year’s breakout sessions may be our best line-up yet, all focused on different aspects of courageous leadership. Traditionally, attendees have the chance to attend two breakout sessions and are unable to participate in the other outstanding content or may have to choose their second choice if the room fills up. With this year’s virtual format, attendees get to join two sessions of their choice live and receive access to ALL the sessions following the conference. That means you can enjoy the workshops you don’t attend live and get quadruple the value.

5. You’ll still have time to get your work done.

We know how busy you are and that it can be hard to take time away for professional development and networking. Because this year’s event is from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., you’ll still have half of your day to answer emails, attend meetings and cross critical items off your to-do list.

4. It’s a meaningful reward for your staff and team.

Let’s face it; 2020 has been a hard year for everyone. Everyone is exhausted. The conference is the perfect jolt of positive energy and motivation to reward yourself and your colleagues for all you’ve been through this year and get what you need to keep going. Nonprofit and for-profit team tickets are available as a way for you to attend as a group.

3. Get social without a mask.

We might be virtual, but that doesn’t make this year’s event any less social. Attendees will enjoy meaningful opportunities to network with other nonprofit leaders and corporate partners through their screens in our networking and exhibitor lounges. With specified time periods to move in and out of networking spaces, you’ll have time to connect and build relationships with peers and professionals. Both the networking and exhibitor lounges will remain open following the event for extra social time. No masks required!


Who doesn’t like free goodies? Event participants will receive a virtual swag bag with free offers, coupon codes and other items from amazing businesses and organizations. You’ll have to wait until event day to claim your prizes.

1. You’ll be ready to lead courageously.

Courageous leadership has never been more important. With our entire conference focused on helping nonprofit leaders lead more courageously, you’ll nurture the seed of courage inside you and walk away ready to think differently and act boldly to strengthen your organization and our communities.

Lead Courageously at NLC's 2020 Leadership Conference

Not registered yet? Purchase your ticket now.

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21 Rising Nonprofit Stars Welcomed into First Certificate in Leadership Program

Team NLC News

“Leadership is defined as leading a group of people or an organization, but it’s so much more than that. I believe an effective leader embodies self-awareness, social-awareness, compassion, integrity, confidence, empathy, trust and courage. Leadership requires all of these attributes and more. I’m excited to refine my leadership skills in the Nonprofit Leadership Center’s new Certificate in Leadership program.”

— Jynelle Batts, Program Director, A Kid’s Place of Tampa Bay, Inc. and participant in the first NLC Certificate in Leadership Cohort

With mounting responsibilities and pressures on nonprofit leaders from the pandemic, an uncertain fundraising environment and deepening resource constraints, strong leadership means everything for organizational success and sustainability. But research shows that half of nonprofit professionals don’t feel they have the knowledge, experience and resources to be successful (ProInspire). This is of particular concern for leaders who are transitioning from individual contributors into management roles.

To close the gaps that exist in supporting nonprofit leaders who are new to managing people, programs or organizations, the Nonprofit Leadership Center announced a bold new initiative in February to help develop emerging leaders in our sector. The result is the first Certificate in Leadership program. More than a learning experience, participants come together in an inclusive, collaborative environment to embrace the qualities and skills necessary to lead their organizations and our communities with authenticity and impact. This 10-week program, made possible with generous support from Florida Blue, will prepare and empower rising nonprofit leaders to dynamically lead our ever-changing sector forward.

As the first ever Certificate in Leadership kicks off today, we’re thrilled to introduce you to the 21 nonprofit leaders who will be part of this first cohort. Participants were nominated to apply by leaders in their organization or community, and then their applications were reviewed as part of a rigorous selection process.

Meet the 2020 Certificate in Leadership Class

Millicent BattleCommunity Planner, Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County
Jynelle BattsProgram Director, A Kid’s Place of Tampa Bay
Joanna BorukCollege and Career Center Manager, Pinellas Education Foundation
Abigail Bradley-TylerLeadership & Student Organizations Coordinator, University of South Florida St. Petersburg
Melanie BradyChild Welfare Regional Director, Gulf Coast JFCS
Sherry ClesterDirector of Program Services, CASA
Subrina DriggersDevelopment Coordinator, Florida Dream Center
Lisa ElliotDevelopmental Playgroup Coordinator, Champions for Children
Veatrice FarrellExecutive Director, The Deuces Live, Inc.
Camila GonzalezDirector of Mortgage Servicing, Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties
Davia LereboursExecutive Director, Pace Center for Girls Hillsborough
Kristy PadillaCoordinator of Youth Programs, Intercultural Advocacy Institute
Allison RappSpecial Projects Manager, Health Council of West Central Florida
Lauren ReyesVice President of Operations, Tampa YMCA
Linda ShefferRCS Grace House Manager, RCS Pinellas
Heather StephensonCEO, We Care of Central Florida
Richanne TuccoloManager of Facilities and Support Services, MacDonald Training Center, Inc.
Derek UlticanVolunteer Experience Manager, Feeding Tampa Bay
Victoria WeaverDirector of the Men’s Residence, St. Petersburg Free Clinic
Emily WoodsSchool & Youth Programs Manager, Glazer Children’s Museum
Danielle Wright-LandryDirector of Membership, WUSF Public Media

Powered Through Partnership

NLC’s new Certificate in Leadership program was made possible with generous support from Florida Blue. See Florida Blue Market President of the West Florida Region David Pizzo’s interview about the power of this program, five qualities of strong leadership and more.

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

Learn More about the Certificate in Leadership

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

Learn more about NLC’s Certificate in Leadership program here. For questions and more information about the new Certificate in Leadership, contact us at or 813-287-8779.

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10 Questions with Florida Blue’s David Pizzo

Team NLC Stories

At the Nonprofit Leadership Center (NLC), we believe the best lessons in leadership come from leaders themselves. Our 10 Questions With Series celebrates and elevates nonprofit and business leaders who are making an enduring impact on our communities. Today, we’re pleased to introduce you to David Pizzo, market president of the West Florida Region at Florida Blue. Florida Blue is one of NLC’s valued partners whose generosity has made our newly launched Certificate in Leadership program possible.

David Pizzo, Florida Blue's Market President, West Florida Region

In his role at Florida Blue, David oversees operations in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, Sarasota, Manatee, Lee, and other western counties south to Collier. Prior to this role, he served as Florida Blue’s vice president of advertising, brand management and market communications. Before joining Florida Blue in 1997, David served as senior vice president at Commonhealth (now Ogilvy CommonHealth), the world’s largest health care marketing communications firm.

David is involved with many philanthropic organizations, including serving as the board chairman of Tampa Bay Partnership (2018-2020) and on the boards of the West Central Florida Mental Wellness Coalition and American Heart Association Tampa Bay Metro. David holds a Bachelor of Science in pharmacy from Rutgers University and a Master of Business Administration in marketing and international business from NYU’s Stern Business School.

See what David Pizzo had to share about what funders are looking for in nonprofit partners, the most important traits leaders need now and why he is excited about the new Certificate in Leadership to support rising nonprofit professionals.

Q1. Tell us a little bit about Florida Blue and your company’s commitment to help people and communities achieve better health.

David: At Florida Blue, our mission is to help people and communities achieve better health. It’s not only our purpose as a company but also the standard against which we weigh our actions and decisions.

To fulfill our commitment to keep Florida healthy, our work focuses on ensuring all residents have access to quality health care, know where their next meal will come from and have the support and services needed to promote their mental wellness.

Q2. You are personally involved with numerous nonprofit organizations. What inspired your deep sense of servant leadership, and how has working with nonprofits contributed to your personal and professional success?

David: I didn’t grow up in a wealthy household. I started working when I was in eighth grade and know what it’s like to experience difficult times. As a result, I also know how important mentors, support systems and hard work are to help you through significant challenges.

Helping others succeed is one of my greatest joys in life. We can truly make a difference in people’s lives when we give back. It’s not just about helping people when they’re facing difficult times, but also guiding them onto a path for future prosperity. I’m proud to work for Florida Blue where our mission, not shareholders, drive our decisions and enable us to help people and communities in so many ways. 

Q3. How has COVID-19 changed or accelerated the work you are doing in communities to promote health equity and access?

David: Ensuring that every Floridian has access to quality health care is one of the pillars of our work in the community. While it’s an area we’ve focused on for many years, that work is even more critical today.

To expedite advancement in this area, we launched a Wellbeing Challenge to identify innovative solutions to address health and racial inequities in Florida. The four-month challenge, already underway, will award $100,000 to organizations with sustainable approaches to increasing access to affordable health care services and underserved populations or improve opportunities for underserved populations to obtain, understand and use health care information following treatment.

We’ve also committed to invest $25 million during the next five years to address racial injustice and health inequities in Black communities. We want to address the impact of systemic racism on health care outcomes.

Q4. Florida Blue does so much to support nonprofits in Florida. As a funder, what should nonprofits think about or do better when it comes to engaging prospective corporate partners?

David: It’s important to get to know the company’s mission, values and priorities. Do your homework before approaching a company. Do your missions align? It’s essential that nonprofits spend time truly getting to know and understand a company’s needs and areas of focus. When approaching them, highlight how your missions and priorities align.

It’s easy to distinguish nonprofits that are interested in a true partnership and those that just want a check. If you want a true partnership, we are willing to roll up our sleeves and collaborate to make an impact in our community. We look for nonprofit partners that will bring innovative ideas to work together and advance shared goals.

Another thing we look for when assessing community partners is whether there is energy behind the organization. Is there energy in the leadership and excitement about their mission to make things happen?

Quote from David Pizzo: It's easy to distinguish nonprofits that are interested in a true partnership and those that just want a check. Bring innovative ideas to work together and advance shared goals.

Q5. You are currently funding a three-year partnership with NLC to support our newly launched Nonprofit Certificate in Leadership (thank you!). Why is this program important to you and the Florida Blue team? What results do you hope it will bring to our community?

David: At Florida Blue, we believe collaboration with the nonprofit community is essential to achieving our mission. When the business and nonprofit communities work together, we can make a tremendous impact on the lives of our neighbors across Tampa Bay and the state of Florida.

To have the biggest effect in our communities, nonprofits need strong leaders who understand the importance of strategic thinking, collaboration, empathy and innovation. That’s why we are excited to partner with the Nonprofit Leadership Center to provide a new Certificate in Leadership for emerging nonprofit leaders in our community that will instill these values through courses that delve into self-awareness, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, data analytics, conflict resolution and more.

The goal of this program is to surround emerging leaders with support, resources and knowledge that will help them strengthen and advance our nonprofits to better serve the people and communities of Florida.

We believe this program will be a great way to support and mentor the nonprofit executives of tomorrow.

Q6. As we think about leadership in our ever-changing landscape, what do you think are the most important attributes or characteristics to be successful as a leader today?

David: I believe there are five things that are important to being a successful leader.

  • First, adaptability is critical.
  • Second, you must be able to create a vision and rally people around that vision, including your team and partners. None of us have all the ideas, so it’s essential to pull a diverse group together in a trusting and inclusive environment that feels energized to generate ideas.
  • Third, keep an eye on results. How do you measure what you’re doing? What goals are you setting? How are you getting your teams to work on them?
  • Fourth, good follow-through and good delegation are critical traits. You can’t do it all yourself.
  • And finally, always be a catalyst for discussion. Push the envelope on new and exciting things. Here at Florida Blue, imagination is one of our core values. You cannot settle into old ways. You must always be invigorating your teams to think beyond your current position.

Q7. For new professionals or aspiring leaders, what’s the most important piece of advice you’d share?

David: Get engaged. If you sit at your desk all day and do a great job at what you do, that’s not leadership. Get engaged beyond your job and initial responsibilities. Get involved in the community. It’s a way to expand your leadership. You can learn lots of leadership and management techniques through nonprofit work. It’s what we do outside the individual contributor role that helps build our leadership skills.

Don’t limit yourself by your own thinking. Don’t put boundaries around what you do. You can’t look at a person in a job and say they aren’t a leader. They may be outside the workplace at church, PTA or a nonprofit. Everyone has the ability to lead.

Quote from David Pizzo: Don’t limit yourself by your own thinking. Don’t put boundaries around what you do. Everyone has the ability to lead.

Q8. At NLC, we’re big believers in lifelong learning. What’s one area you’d still like to continue honing your skills in?

David: I would like to work more on my public speaking and speaking with the media.   

The pandemic has also brought to light another area I’d like to do more work on, which is leading virtual meetings. For the past six months, our team has been working remotely, and this is something that will not be changing anytime soon. I would like to continue to become well versed on using technology such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, as well as learning more ways to make Zoom meetings more engaging and productive. 

READ NEXT: How to Maintain Engagement & Morale While Leading Virtual Teams

Q9. What’s the best book, movie or streaming show you’ve recently enjoyed during quarantine?

David: After all the hype, I finally broke down and watched Tiger King. When it was first released and the talk of the town, I kind of dismissed it as something I wouldn’t have any interest in. I eventually gave it a try months later, and I found it interesting — especially with the local ties.

I also enjoy historical-based television shows, such as Vikings on History Channel and The Last Kingdom and The Crown on Netflix.

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

David: Many people don’t realize that I’m a pharmacist. I attended pharmacy school at Rutgers. I ended up moving into pharmacy sales after college, which put me on the path to the business side of health care.

Another thing that I’ve probably never told anyone is that I love the TV show Lucky Dog. I record it every Saturday morning for my wife and I to watch together. It really warms my heart to see shelter dogs get a second chance.

READ NEXT: NLC Announces 21 Rising Leaders in new Certificate in Leadership Program

Would you or someone you know be a great leader to profile for an upcoming 10 Questions With feature? Email us at with your recommendations.

READ NEXT: 10 Questions with Dr. Sheron Brown, Executive Director of Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative

READ NEXT: 10 Questions with Mike Sutton, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties

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

Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter to get more great advice from nonprofit leaders, along with the latest tips, tools and trainings for nonprofits.

The X-Factor in Courageous Leadership: 4 Ways to Strengthen Your Mental Fitness

Ellen Nastir, M.Ed., PCC, BCC, CPCC Leadership, Tips

Authentic, trusting relationships are at the core of achieving the majority of goals in life — from personal happiness to career success and everything in between. But before meaningful and lasting relationships can grow, they must be rooted in the relationship we have with ourselves.

Believe it or not, the most important conversations aren’t those you have with others; they’re the ones you have with yourself. The messages we tell ourselves about ourselves drive how we think, act and interact.

Do you ever compare yourself as a parent, supervisor or employee to others and feel like come up short?

Do you ever belittle your actions or seem to have a default system of putting yourself down (maybe without even realizing it)?

Have the stress and unrelenting challenges of the past year brought up insecurities or feelings of not measuring up — from adjusting to working from home, adapting to new technology, managing children or pets making appearances during major presentations or any number of different scenarios?

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When we engage in negative self-talk with our inner judge — metaphorically hitting ourselves — we strengthen our connection to the thoughts and stories we’re telling ourselves while simultaneously deepening the neural brain pathways that try to cement them as fact. Letting go of past experiences and negative patterns is not necessarily easy, yet the benefits reaped from doing so can be life-changing.

So how can we prevail over our inner judge?

Start Strengthening Your Mental Muscles

Quieting your inner judge requires patience, commitment and practice — much like when you start going to the gym or take up running for the first time. It’s hard at first, downright painful, really. But slowly yet surely, you strengthen your physical muscles. For our mindset and messaging to change, we must do the same thing — strengthen our mental muscles and boost our mental fitness.

Here are four techniques you can use to disengage from your inner judge and strengthen your mental fitness:

1. Take a two-minute breather.

The busier we become and the longer our “to do” list grows, the more intense we often feel and more feverishly we work. That state can increase your heart rate and stress. Try closing your eyes or hold a soft gaze on an object. Let yourself float away from where you are for two minutes. Notice your breath. As your mind wanders, don’t judge it; just let it go and take deep breaths. You may notice different physical sensations as your heart rate lowers and your stomach relaxes. This will allow you to return to what you were doing more focused, productive and in a better frame of mind. You stop for daily bathroom or lunch breaks — why not stop for a brain break, too?

2. Make your “mini-medi” mobile.

Taking two minutes for a mini-meditation doesn’t have to be something you can only do when you’re in your office alone or a dark corner of your house. Creating a simple gesture can remind you that a mini-medi is something easy you can do anytime, any place. For example, try rubbing your index finger and thumb together, slowly and deliberately. That can provide a focal point for your breathing exercise. Feel the ridges in your fingers ever so slightly as you softly rub them together. Try other sensations that may feel right for you to put your mind at ease and bring you into the moment.

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3. Act like an outside observer.

We all tend to judge ourselves without even realizing it. It’s part of being human. The key is to notice the negative thoughts in judgment and acknowledge that they’re happening. Look at those inner thoughts and the conversation you’re telling yourself as if you were an outside observer noticing the path your negative self-talk patterns go. This will allow you to accept that they’re there so you can begin to work to change them.

4. Dump your judge.

When negative self-thoughts creep into your mind, cross-examine those negative thoughts or self-doubt and then send your inner judge packing. You can kick him/her out with a nudge or thank him/her for showing up while acknowledging that you’re fine and will handle this on your own — no distraction needed. Always trust yourself to have the inner wisdom to poke, prod, question and disbelieve what your judge is trying to accomplish by having your inner voice be disqualified.  

Boost Your Mental Fitness to Lead Courageously on June 10

In our newest virtual class that’s now open for registration, Ellen Nastir, M.Ed., PCC, will help you identify the saboteurs that prevent you from functioning at your highest level, grow the three core mental muscles to thrive in challenging times, and develop strategies to turn negative emotions into positive outcomes. Learn more and register now!

Register Now

About Ellen Nastir, M.Ed., PCC, BCC, CPCC

Working hand-in-hand with nonprofits and small businesses, Ellen Nastir helps clients create more positive, appreciative and cohesive work environments. Her company, Innovative Team Solutions, works to develop employees’ people-skills to complement their technical skills and abilities. With more than 14 years of experience in training, development and entrepreneurial sales, Ellen brings a unique perspective to resolving challenges and maximizing the potential of any team. She is a certified professional co-active coach, PeopleMap trainer, virtual trainer from the International Institute for Virtual Facilitation and is certified in Positive Psychology, Change and Tension Management and Conflict Dynamics. Finding the opportunity during quarantine, Ellen is most recently obtaining certification in Positive Intelligence. 

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