4 Simple Strategies to Improve Team Communication at Work

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

You’ve probably heard the English proverb, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Just as relationships in life are often better when approached with a smile rather than a scowl, the same is true in business. When kindness is at the forefront of our mind and daily interactions, we focus on the power of “we” over “I.” When we prioritize positive interactions with others, we can improve team communication and organizational culture.

From my years working with teams in organizations of all sizes, I know it’s often the smallest actions that make the most significant difference. Everyone wants to feel that their contributions matter and that they matter. When we take the time to connect with coworkers — even if just for a few moments — we can transform our work environment.

Studies show that work friendships enhance performance, increase company loyalty and boost morale, among other benefits for improving team communication and culture. Employees and organizations benefit when colleagues spend time together in a relaxed atmosphere (e.g., lunch or chatting in the break room) as well as in organized, off-site team-building settings.

READ: 6 Ideas for Improving Team Dynamics

Four Relationship-Enhancers to Improve Team Communication

These four simple strategies will help you improve team communication and positive workplace interactions, brightening your day and someone else’s.

4 simple strategies to improve team communication

1. Avoid the gossip trap.
Making assumptions and telling stories is never a good idea, especially at work. It’s incredible how quickly things can spin out of control — much like the old telephone game played by children when the starting phrase never quite matches what the last person hears. There’s no easy or good way out of office gossip. It becomes circular, leading you down a never-ending spiral with a potentially harmful outcome.

2. Eliminate the words “always” and “never” from your vocabulary.
Think about it. Are you 100% always on time for every 9 a.m. meeting? Are you never on time? These words create a slippery slope when we start to view others or ourselves in an all or nothing fashion. We’re not 0% or 100%. When we turn these words against ourselves in our self-talk, it demeans and provokes negative impressions that feed on themselves.

“I never should have said that in the meeting.”

“I always mess this report up.”

“My boss will never see me in a position of management. I always come up short.”

It’s easy to put coworkers, clients, supervisors and others in boxes. Does it sound familiar to make statements such as, “He always” and “She never?” By avoiding these words, we can create a more balanced, accurate and positive environment for everyone, including ourselves.

3. Be curious.
Ask questions. What’s the “why” behind the reasoning for a deadline? Sometimes when we understand how our portion of a project impacts another person or department, working together improves. If you’re in charge of a project, be upfront about the timeline and offer the “why” behind the need. When others understand the overall situation, it’s easier to obtain their buy-in and trust.

4. Ask before you ask.
Need a few minutes of someone’s time? Ask if now is a good time before launching into a question or discussion topic. Often, we believe our issues are critical and require an immediate answer. While there are certainly situations from time to time that are urgent, many times what we think is important can wait a bit. Some individuals don’t mind interruptions, while others lose their concentration and effectiveness every time someone “stops by just for a sec.” It’s a show of respect when you batch your questions and ask for a time to meet.

READ NEXT: 5 Misconceptions About Organizational Culture

Join Ellen in December to Become a More Self-Aware Leader

Want to join Ellen for an upcoming nonprofit training event? In December, she’ll help nonprofit leaders understand themselves to become more effective leaders. Her class will help participants discover their specific personality style and learn how to best communicate with others to avoid interpersonal conflicts. By taking the PeopleMap™ assessment, attendees will learn their combination style of who they naturally are and be able to systematically incorporate the other “less like you” styles for achieving their goals.

Specifically, participants will learn how to:

  • Decrease drama by being misunderstood
  • Improve team communication techniques
  • Focus on increasing overall productivity and effectiveness


Ellen Nastir, M.Ed., PCC, BCC, CPCC, is a Certified Professional Co-active Coach with advanced training in organization and relationship systems coaching, tension and change management and appreciation at work. She received her coach training and certification from The Coaches Training Institute. Ellen holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida, and a master’s from the University of North Florida — both in education.

Ellen is a trained PeopleMap Systems educator who focuses on the “people side” of professional performance within the corporate structure. Her expertise is in the development of employees’ people skills to complement their technical skills and abilities, thus increasing productivity and retention, communication skills, problem-solving, and conflict resolution. Read more about Ellen’s extensive background and career.

10 Questions With The Deuces Live’s Veatrice Farrell

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 Veatrice Farrell, executive director of the Deuces Live.

10 Questions with Veatrice Farrell of the Deuces Live | NLC Veatrice has been the executive director of the Deuces Live since October 2012. Prior to leading this important community organization, she spent more than two decades in the financial and banking industries where she was instrumental in facilitating loans and new financial services to underserved communities. In addition to running the Deuces Live, she currently serves as the secretary for the Sunshine State Economic Development Corporation and is a board member of MyCroSchool Pinellas and the Warehouse Arts District Association. She is also vice president of the Pinellas Job Corp’s community relations committee.

If you love St. Petersburg and supporting the local Tampa Bay community, you need to know Veatrice Farrell and the Deuces Live. Here’s what Veatrice had to share about board governance, community partnership and her favorite local hot spots.

Q1. As the executive director of the Deuces Live, tell us about your organization and what drew you to serve this mission.

The Deuces Live | NLCVeatrice: The Deuces Live, Inc., is a certified Florida Main Street located on the Historic 22nd Street South corridor in St. Petersburg. Main Streets TM is a nationwide program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Its goal is to redevelop historic commercial corridors with a focus on preserving existing assets — both physical (buildings) and intangible (the culture and heritage). The 22nd Street South corridor was once one of the most vibrant communities of St. Petersburg, separated from the city at large due to segregation.   

Q2. St. Petersburg author and historian Jon Wilson said, “To know this city, first know this street.” For readers who may not be familiar with 22nd Street South or the Deuces, tell us about its history and why its vibrancy is so important.

Veatrice: It was once said that one could live their whole life on the Deuces — born at Mercy Hospital (13th Avenue South) and celebrating your homecoming at Sanchez Funeral Home (9th Avenue South). There were once more than 100 businesses on the Deuces, so engagement outside of its boundaries was not really necessary. Although one of the most iconic segregated corridors, it wasn’t the only neighborhood that housed the African American community.    

Q3. One of your gifts as a leader is bringing diverse community groups and leaders together to try to strengthen our entire community and take more collaborative approaches to problem-solving. How can our nonprofit sector and business community work together better to advance important conversations and community impact?

Veatrice: For the longest time, the term “working together” has meant engaging in transactional interactions instead of transformative interchanges. Nonprofits ask for and receive funding from businesses instead of building partnerships that actually change the community. This is a topic that’s ripe for meaningful conversation. I hope NLC builds a workshop/seminar around this issue to really start a dialogue that will lead to true change.

Q4. We often hear from nonprofit leaders that better engaging their boards is one of their greatest challenges. Your organization has participated in NLC’s board training. What strategies have been most helpful to deepen engagement and effectiveness with your board? Any board governance advice you would share with other nonprofit leaders?

Veatrice: Engaging board members continues to be one of the greatest challenges and opportunities for nonprofits, even more so for those with a small staff. How does a board draw the line between oversight and micromanaging? In my opinion, board training provided by experienced professionals has been the most helpful in deepening engagement and effectiveness of our board.

The process of providing education focused strictly on board development can almost feel counter-productive. “What do you mean we have to attend training to become a better board member? What about the mission?” The best way for me to illustrate how important trained board members are to strengthening the overall mission is to use the fable about the thin, lightly muscled man that was in a contest with a John Henry type to cut down a tree. The contest was scheduled to last eight hours. Every two hours or so, the thin, lightly muscled man would leave for a 15-minute break. At the end of the eight hours, the thin, lightly muscled man had chopped down his tree. The John Henry type lost! How, asked the judges did this happen? The thin, lighted muscled man replied, every time I took a break, I sharpened my ax.         

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

Veatrice: Make sure that you have balance between your work and home life.

Q6. As someone who loves St. Pete and is committed to strengthening local businesses in the community, what are some of your favorite restaurants, shops or local businesses we can’t miss while in the neighborhood?


  • Ameenah’s Soul Food Sundays
  • Esquire Barber Shop to listen to wisdom from the barbers
  • Chief’s Creole Cafe for gumbo
  • Night Flow for specials
  • Lorene’s Fish House for chicken wings
  • The Dr. Carter G. Woodson Museum and the ArtsXchange every second Saturday during ArtWalk for the new exhibits
  • Matinees at the Royal Theater every second and fourth Saturday at 2 p.m.   

Q7. When you’re not working to revitalize the 22nd Street South District, what are you most passionate about in your everyday life?

Veatrice: Reading and writing.

Q8. What’s the best book you’ve read recently?

Veatrice: “The Clarity Cleanse” by Habib Sadeghi.

Q9. Finish this sentence: If I wasn’t the executive director of the Deuces Live, I would be ______________.

Veatrice: The owner of a movie theater! 

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

Veatrice: I’m an introvert. 

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 Tampa Theatre CEO John Bell

READ NEXT: 10 Questions With NLC CEO Emily Benham

READ NEXT: 10 Questions With Frameworks Board Chair Jennifer Garcia

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What is Culture 2.0 exactly? Your NLC Fall Conference Sneak Peek

Team NLC News

The Nonprofit Leadership Center’s 2019 Fall Board & Senior Leadership Conference is just around the corner. The conference theme is Culture 2.0: Building Nonprofit Teams for Organizational Sustainability. But what exactly is Culture 2.0? Why does culture matter for nonprofits? And why is it important for you to be at this event during such a busy time of year? Conference speaker and management expert Margarita Sarmiento is answering these questions and explaining why culture should be at the top of every nonprofit leader’s priority list.

Why you should attend NLC's 2019 Fall Board & Senior Leadership Conference

What is organizational culture?

Culture traditionally describes the underlying beliefs, assumptions, values and ways of interacting that make an organization’s environment unique. Think about it as the who, what, where, when, how and why of your nonprofit.

What risks do nonprofits face if they don’t prioritize organizational culture and climate?

The biggest risk that nonprofits face in balancing mission and administrative needs is complacency — maintaining the status quo. In today’s change-driven world, successful organizations are focused on the future and what they need to do to be competitive and impactful. Now is the best time of year for nonprofit leaders to be introspective as they gear up for year-end and make plans for next year.

How can focusing on organizational culture/climate enhance fundraising, volunteerism and/or advocacy efforts?

Your organization’s culture/climate is the very heartbeat of your work. A cohesive environment that sparks collaboration, triggers learning, builds trust and demands respect is an environment where problems get solved and expectations are exceeded. This is an environment that will garner measurable results in all areas. In a positive, energized work climate, staff, stakeholders and volunteers will feel encouraged and supported as they share a common purpose, allowing them to do their best work.

What can attendees at NLC’s Senior Board & Leadership Conference expect to take away from the event?

  • A practical understanding of what organizational culture looks like
  • Real-life stories of organizations that have successfully taken a strategic approach to culture-building
  • Insight into what organizations must incorporate into their current cultural make-up to compete and thrive in today’s environment
  • A clear grasp of what they can do to strengthen and sustain their current culture, equipping them for the future

Why is it important for multiple leaders to attend?

Just as an organization is strengthened by different perspectives, any type of strategic or organizational planning is stronger when individuals and stakeholders with different viewpoints and experiences are involved. We recommend nonprofit CEOs attend NLC’s Senior Board and Leadership Conference with at least one board member as well as staff on their leadership team who understand the organization’s culture.

What, if anything, should attendees think about or prepare in advance?

Think about areas where things seem to be going well for your organization. What might be driving your success, and what part might climate or culture play? Also, think about areas where leadership, staff and board members may not be on the same page. What factors influence those results? In both cases, what is consciously being done to maintain or change the current situation?

How can attendees get the most out of the event?

Come with an open mind and a realistic perspective. You will not be asked to look at your current situation in terms of right and wrong, but in terms of what is and what could be.

Join us on November 7

Ready to take the next step in your organization’s growth? If your nonprofit organization needs support developing and retaining your best staff in an ever-changing workforce, join the Nonprofit Leadership Center and facilitator Margarita Sarmiento for our 2019 Board & Senior Leadership Conference. This one-day event on November 7, 2019, will explore how your organization can harness organizational culture and climate to improve your productivity and longevity. Learn more and register HERE.

Why you should attend NLC's 2019 Fall Board & Senior Leadership Conference

Margarita Sarmiento

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.

Nonprofit Leaders on the Move

Team NLC News

Growth is almost always sparked by change. A fresh idea. A meaningful connection. A different perspective. A leap of faith. A comfort zone defied. A new opportunity.

Today, we’re celebrating two nonprofit leaders who’re embarking on new opportunities. Their changes are sure to contribute to our community’s growth.

Welcome Jessica Dvoracsek

Be grateful for what you have, and you’ll always have enough.  

That’s Jessica Dvoracsek’s motto (pronounced Div-OR-Seck). Jessica has joined Team NLC as our new Resource Development Fellow — a one-year fellowship that allows emerging nonprofit leaders to immerse themselves in every aspect of fund development as well as provide key customer service and marketing support. In addition to attending professional development classes, writing grants, observing board meetings and more, she will oversee sponsorships for NLC’s Leadership Conference

Jessica is a charismatic professional who has spent her career in higher education and the arts. She has experience in community relations, event management, volunteer management and coaching. For the past four years, she has been responsible for the professional coaching of students enrolled in the nursing program at Utica College as well as the onboarding and training of incoming coaches. Jessica also worked at the Sarasota Opera in marketing and advertising sales. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of South Florida and her master’s degree in music from the Cleveland Institute of Music. Jessica is currently enrolled in NLC’s graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management program at the University of Tampa.

“As part of the current nonprofit management cohort, I’m learning effective board governance, strategic planning, marketing, fund development and how to develop a business plan. As a lifelong learner, I love developing new skills and turning them into strengths!”

Jessica Dvoracsek

When Jessica is not in the office, you’ll find her training for a half marathon or volunteering with Girls on the Run of Greater Tampa Bay as a community outreach coordinator. You might also find her singing (she’s a soprano and she’s really good!) or spending time with her husband and dogs.

Thank You Andrew Rametta

Andrew Rametta, NLC's past resource development fellow and new donor relations manager for Metropolitan Ministries

While the beginning of one fellowship at NLC means the end to another, it also represents a bright beginning for our nonprofit community. Today, we celebrate Andrew Rametta who has been NLC’s Resource Development Fellow for the past year. This week, Andrew began his new role as Manager of Donor Relations at Metropolitan Ministries. We’re incredibly grateful to Andrew for all he has contributed to NLC and our nonprofit community. We look forward to seeing how he will continue strengthening our community in his new role.

“The experience I received through the NLC Fellowship is priceless. In a year’s time, I’ve progressed from being introduced to the nonprofit sector to now being deeply part of it. I feel equipped with the skills and knowledge to help my new development team as soon as I step in the door. I now understand how to craft a case for support, the importance and impact of a donor-centric fund development strategy, the growing trends in the sector and how important and transformative a planned giving program can be. I’ve received five years of experience in just 12 short months!”

Andrew Rametta

Please join us in congratulating Jessica Dvoracsek and Andrew Rametta.

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What Businesses Want from Nonprofit Partners

Team NLC Tips

If you’re like many nonprofits, you’ve heard the term Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR. It’s the phrase used to refer to a business approach that aims to positively contribute to our society. While initially a form of corporate self-regulation to promote sustainable business practices, CSR is no longer a single-issue effort or ad hoc attempt by a company’s marketing department to do good. Among the latest corporate social responsibility trends, research from Edelman shows that 8 in 10 consumers believe businesses must play a role in improving the social conditions of the communities in which they operate. And doing so isn’t just good for our communities; it’s better for business. A Deloitte study found that purpose-focused companies outperform their peers by a factor of eight, while Kantar Consulting’s Purpose 2020 Report shows that brands with a high sense of purpose have experienced a valuation increase of 175% during the past 12 years.

There’s no question that CSR has evolved beyond a business function to the foundation on which great businesses are built. As corporate citizenship moves to the center of companies and both employees and consumers continue to demand it, nonprofits must take a more proactive and strategic approach when it comes to partnership. CSR expert and communications strategist Kecia Carroll believes that when nonprofit leaders think about CSR from a corporate perspective, they form more meaningful partnerships that translate into increased donations, volunteerism and action. To understand how corporate social responsibility is shifting so nonprofits can shift with it, Kecia shares six corporate social responsibility trends every nonprofit leader needs to know.

6 Corporate Social Responsibility Trends Nonprofits Need to Know

6 Corporate Social Responsibility Trends Every Nonprofit Needs to Know

1. From Sustainability to Sustained Social Impact

For many companies, especially early on, CSR and sustainability were synonymous. The responsibility was about preserving resources and operating in a way that was conducive to the environment. Today, CSR encompasses environmental, economic and social responsibility and refers to businesses’ responsibility to act ethically and consider their impacts on the community at large. Successful business leaders think in terms of their return on investment. CSR is now evaluated based on its ability to deliver measurable business results — from deeper employee engagement or enhanced reputation to community health metrics.

Nonprofit leaders must think strategically about how corporate support can drive true community and business results. When thinking about ROI for your partners, go in prepared to listen, not ready to present a list of sponsorship opportunities. By working together to find win-win strategies that drive real results, you’ll create transformational partnerships to advance long-term impact.

2. From Responsible Business Operations to Brands Taking Stands

In recent years, companies have redefined what responsible business operations mean by going from supporting causes to taking stands as brands tied to their corporate values. Today, 62% of consumers want companies to take a stand on current issues, while research from Cone Communications shows that 78% of employees expect companies to stand up for important social justice issues. From Dick’s Sporting Goods taking a stand on gun control to Patagonia standing up for our nation’s outdoor spaces, companies and customers are demanding philanthropic partnerships that prioritize authentic values and action.

As a nonprofit leader, jot down the social problems your organization is working to solve. Think beyond your stated mission. Research or consider which companies might (or should be) trying to solve the same problem you’re trying to solve. Study those companies, identify champions within those organizations and set up an initial meeting to discuss their needs, goals and potential opportunities to work together to advance them.

3. From Nice-to-Have to Non-Negotiable

Employees and job applicants expect CSR to be engrained into the fabric of their company’s corporate culture. Nearly 55% of the workforce would choose to work for a socially responsible company, even if the salary was less. Millennials in particular, which make up the largest segment of the American workforce, are seeking out and staying with companies that are proactive and collaborative in their community giving. While companies are mindful of doing good, an authentic CSR strategy is imperative to recruiting and retaining today’s best talent. According to HR Executive, turnover at companies where employees donated money and volunteered was only 12% compared to 28% at other organizations where they did neither. Nonprofits can play a critical role in helping corporate partners not only demonstrate that they’re a purpose-led brand, but also showcase the partnership as an employee benefit.

4. From Volunteering to Skilled Volunteerism

Speaking about employee expectations, effective CSR includes engaging employees in meaningful ways that matter to them. A 2017 study by Deloitte found that creating a culture of volunteerism may boost morale, workplace atmosphere and brand perception. Furthermore, a 2016 Cone Communications Employee Engagement Study showed that 71% of employees want their company to provide opportunities for them to help make a positive impact on its social and environmental commitments — 88% confirm their job is more fulfilling when they do. Nonprofit leaders must be able to articulate a need for skilled volunteerism to engage today’s corporate partners. For instance, nonprofits must show how volunteerism can empower employees to use their unique skills to solve problems, develop leaders and teams and/or reach new or diverse markets. For example, IT experts might help tomorrow’s leaders learn about coding while the mechanically-inclined could help assemble bikes for kids in need.

5. From Big Company to Any Company

The strategic principles behind CSR apply to any company of any size, starting with its goals, values and purpose. Every company got into business for a reason, with a problem they sought to solve or a need they hoped to meet. In addition to this becoming the foundation of their business, it serves as the basis of any corporate social responsibility program. By tapping into the heart of what a company does best, or why they do what they do, you’ll create authentic strategies that advance deeper impact. That means companies of every size may be a match for your organization, so don’t overlook businesses that are hard-wired to care abot your cause. Not all companies have deep pockets, but they can all have deep impact.

6. From Tactic to Strategy

Regardless of a company’s size or strategy, corporate social responsibility is more effective with a plan. To build an effective, sustainable CSR program, top companies are approaching it as strategically as possible. Specifically, they’re tying the nonprofits they support to their business objectives, values and overall purpose. They are looking at authentic alignment with their brand. They want to be engaged beyond writing checks and they want their impact to be sustainable and measurable. When putting together proposals and programs for current and potential corporate partners, addressing these elements are critical for every nonprofit.


About Kecia Carroll
Kecia Carroll is a communications strategist with a career divided between in-house leadership and consulting roles. She has worked with dozens of organizations — from startups to Fortune 500 companies, professional service firms and social enterprises — helping them build their businesses and their brands. In her role as a senior advisor, Kecia advises companies on effective ways to integrate corporate social responsibility into their overall business strategy for positive impact to the bottom line and the communities in which they do business. Additionally, Kecia served as an advisor to the Edyth Bush Institute at Rollins College where she established the corporate citizenship department designed to raise awareness for and engagement in corporate social responsibility and its benefits to companies, the nonprofit sector and the community.

Get nonprofit leadership tips and tools delivered to your inbox by joining our VIP list. You’ll receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter, which also includes the latest nonprofit trainings, classes and events to help you thrive personally and professionally.

Find Your Nonprofit Fit: 10 Questions to Ask Before Serving on a Nonprofit Board

Emily H. Benham, NLC CEO Tips

Behind every great nonprofit organization is a great board of directors. While many business and community leaders pursue board positions because they genuinely want to make a difference, research from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, in collaboration with BoardSource and GuideStar, suggests that far too many boards lack the sufficient skills, resources and experiences to meet the needs of most nonprofit organizations. Serving on a nonprofit board is about much more than an attractive designation on a resume — it’s a legal and ethical responsibility that has critical implications for nonprofit performance and community impact.

So how do you know if you’re ready to serve on a nonprofit board? How do you choose a nonprofit organization that’s right for you? Ask yourself these 10 questions to find your nonprofit fit.

1. Where’s your passion?
What activities or interests light a personal fire within you? What do you enjoy spending your time doing?

2. Who helped you?
In your life and career, who has been most influential to you? Is there a mentor, supervisor, family member or friend who shaped the person you’ve become today?

3. What’s most important to you?
What issues do you care about most deeply in your community and/or the world?

4. What makes you angry?
What frustrates you most every time you see or hear about it?

5. What makes you hopeful?
What are the things that make you feel positive about the future?

6. What makes you cry?
What brings out your deepest feelings and moves you emotionally?

Thinking through these first six questions will help you identify issues and causes that reveal the nonprofit organization that’s right for you. But serving on a nonprofit board isn’t just about your passions. It must also be a fit for the nonprofit organization as well. To ensure you’re really ready to commit to serving on a nonprofit board, think through the value you can bring to an organization based on what they need.

7. Talent: My talent is ________________.
What are your greatest strengths and skills? What are you best at?

8. Time: I can devote ____ hours per month to a nonprofit and board service.
Given everything you have going on in your life personally and professionally, what kind of time commitment can you honestly make to be fully engaged?

9. Treasure: I am willing to contribute $____ personally.
Think about the financial resources you and your family would/could contribute to support the nonprofit organization. If you’re looking to join a nonprofit board, make sure the organization is among your top three philanthropic priorities.

10. Ties: I am able to connect a nonprofit to the following resources ___________.
What doors can you open to help the organization and what relationships are you willing to call upon to do so? This may include introductions to community leaders, asks to other corporate supporters, connections to major donors, etc.


Serving on a nonprofit board is a serious responsibility that requires serious thought. By thinking through these questions and being thoughtful about your answers, you can help the right nonprofit organization accelerate its mission while advancing the community issues you care about most.

READ NEXT: 10 Ways to Engage Your Board in Fundraising

Become a Board Rock Star

Whether you’re new to serving on a nonprofit board or are a nonprofit executive looking to enhance your organization’s board, the Nonprofit Leadership Center offers many opportunities to help you strengthen your leadership and organization.

Get Your Certificate in Board Governance

In our six-hour, interactive program, you’ll learn everything you need to strengthen your board governance. Specifically, you’ll understand how to …

  • Identify, recruit, orient and even release board members
  • Define board roles and responsibilities
  • Motivate board members and keep them accountable
  • Avoid conflicts of interest
  • Define an effective board-staff partnership
  • Determine the board’s role in financial oversight and fundraising
  • Plan and run a successful board meeting
  • Develop your nonprofit’s financial statements
  • Budget and manage cash flow
  • Complete audits and IRS filings

In addition to the above, you’ll build an invaluable network of Tampa Bay nonprofit leaders you can consult at any time.

Explore Custom Training for Your Board

Need a custom solution designed specifically for your nonprofit organization and board? From two-hour refresher sessions to full-day retreats, we work with you to understand your needs and master board leadership within your organization. To learn more explore opportunities, email us at info@nlctb.org.

See More Board Governance Resources

Check out our board governance resource page for a listing of resources, templates and worksheets to help you and your board. You can also find a listing of open board positions in the Tampa Bay area here.

Emily H. Benham has more than 30 years of experience in the nonprofit field. Before taking on the role of CEO of the Nonprofit Leadership Center in 2014, Emily was the Interim President for Bayfront HERO (Health, Education and Research Organization), a health legacy foundation formed in 2013 with the net proceeds of the sale of Bayfront Medical Center to a for-profit entity. Prior to the sale, she was a member of Bayfront Medical Center’s senior leadership team and directed its philanthropic arm (Bayfront Health Foundation) for more than 20 years, raising millions of dollars for capital improvements for the hospital. In 2008, Emily achieved the Association of Healthcare Philanthropy’s highest level of certification, FAHP. Prior to her work in health care philanthropy, Emily led fund development efforts at the Florida Orchestra, American Stage and the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami.

Get nonprofit leadership tips and tools delivered to your inbox by joining our VIP list. You’ll receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter, which also includes the latest nonprofit trainings, classes and events to help you thrive personally and professionally.

Getting to Know Charlie Imbergamo

Team NLC Stories

There’s a new kid on the block at NLC. He’s part New Yorker, part Texan and part Floridian with a deep passion for social justice running through his veins. He’s as serious about tackling our community’s most important issues as he is about a game of office corn hole. Charlie Imbergamo has officially joined Team NLC as our new Director of Strategic Programs. Here are 15 things to know about the freshest face on our staff.

1. Charlie was born and raised in New York and grew up on the border of Brooklyn and Queens. He credits his mom, dad and maternal grandmother for instilling his strong sense of servant leadership.

“My family taught me the value of seeing a need and responding to it as generously as possible.”

2. Charlie has spent 25 years in education, with the past 12+ years as president and CEO of three private, independent, faith-based schools. He made his way to Florida after accepting the job as founding President and CEO of the Cristo Rey school in Tampa — part of the national Cristo Rey network.

3. Charlie isn’t just a self-proclaimed lifelong learner; he’s got the street cred to prove it. He received his bachelor’s degree from St. Joseph’s College in Brooklyn with a major in Spanish and equivalent major in Italian. He has a master’s degree in educational leadership from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. He’s a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) and has his executive certificate in nonprofit leadership and management from Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame.

4. Charlie’s greatest passion is creating opportunity where opportunity may not exist and closing opportunity gaps to deepen equity.

5. Charlie has been involved with NLC for years before joining as a staff member. He most recently participated in NLC’s CEO Circle #1. What’s the value he sees in being involved with NLC as a nonprofit leader? Listen for yourself:

Charlie reflects on his experience with NLC as a nonprofit CEO

6. When it comes to technology, Charlie thinks it has helped our sector innovate and be more responsive. However, he believes building relationships and community requires face-to-face interactions.

“The principal part of my work at NLC will be to listen to the challenges people are facing and then help develop solutions to those challenges.”

7. Charlie likes starting every meeting, class or training with a few moments of mindfulness.

8. Charlie believes building community is what he has been called to do. Here’s what he has to say about the importance of building strong community partnerships and the keys to doing it successfully.

Charlie on the importance of community partnerships

9. Speaking of building relationships, one of Charlie’s favorite quotes is this African Proverb: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

10. Charlie is a big proponent of adaptive leadership because change is constant. Being flexible and thoughtful as we navigate change and respond to the ebbs and flows of our community, relationships and selves is what he believes makes a strong leader.

11. As someone from an Italian American family, Charlie loves cooking, baking and of course, eating great food. Food has always been an important way to deepen relationships and convene in his family.

12. Charlie loves being out on the water. Chances are that if you invite him to go out on your boat, he’ll say yes.

13. Charlie has a 10-year-old rescue dog named Ginger and a cat he rescued after Hurricane Irma named Rigoletto.

14. Charlie loves music and is a classically trained tenor. If you come to one of his classes or custom trainings, he might take your song requests *wink.*

15. There are a few other things most people don’t know about Charlie. He’s letting you in on them here.

All the fun stuff about Charlie

Want to connect with Charlie and get to know him better? You can find him at cimbergamo@nlctb.org, 813-287-8779 or on LinkedIn.

Dates Announced for 2020 Nonprofit Management Graduate Certificate 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 graduate certificate in nonprofit management in collaboration with the University of Tampa, and we’re pleased to announce our 2020-2021 session dates.

Dates & Timeline for Next Nonprofit Management Graduate Certificate Session

The 2020-2021 session of the nonprofit management graduate certificate program at the University of Tampa will begin on May 13, 2020. Courses are delivered as four one-week seminars, representing 12 credit hours of graduate-level instruction. Program participants will develop skills in strategic thinking, leadership, marketing, development and accounting. The schedule and required in-person time commitments are as follows:

  • May 13-19, 2020: Thinking Strategically
    Students will focus on evaulating mission, analyzing board governance and conducting an environmental scan. They will also identify the focus area for their program-long project and business plan.
  • August 5-11, 2020: Marketing, Research & Communication
    During this session, students will learn how to conduct market research, explore fund development and develop a marketing plan for their chosen project.
  • January 6-12, 2021: Accounting & Financial Management
    Students will learn the fundamentals of accounting, financial performance, analyzing costs and internal controls. They will also develop a budget for their program-long project.
  • May 12-18, 2021: Leadership and Innovation
    In the final session of the program, students will evaluate their personal leadership and develop an implementation plan.
  • Week of July 19, 2021: Final Presentations
    The program culminates with students presenting their business plan to a group of nonprofit and community leaders for evaluation as the final step to receiving their certificate.


Join us for an info session to learn more.

Join us for a lunch and learn to discover how quickly you can further your education with our nonprofit graduate program. You’ll receive a general overview of the University of Tampa as well as details about nonprofit management track options. Faculty and staff will be available to answer your questions, discuss the application process and review financial aid options.

University of Tampa
401 W Kennedy Blvd. Tampa, Fl 33606
Crescent Club, Vaughn Center floor 9


Have questions? Email us at info@nlctb.org, or contact our friends at the University of Tampa at 813-258-7409 or grad@ut.edu.

10 Questions With Tampa Theatre CEO John Bell

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 thrilled to introduce you to John Bell, CEO of the Tampa Theatre.

John Bell is an experienced arts and historic preservation leader who began his career in arts administration in North Carolina. After assuming management responsibilities at the Tampa Theatre in 1985, John has helped the Theatre become one of the busiest venues of its kind in the country. Today, with 535 film events, 10 concerts, 30 educational field trips, four weeks of summer camp and scores of corporate and community events each year, the Theatre averages an annual attendance of 140,000.

Grab some popcorn, kick up your feet and get excited to hear from this dynamic and innovative nonprofit leader who has been helping enhance Tampa Bay for more than 30 years.

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

John: Tampa Theatre is a spectacular historic movie palace built in the 1920s that was rescued from demolition by the community in the 1970s. Like most patrons, I was first attracted to the Theatre by its over-the-top architecture. But what’s most fascinating about the Theatre is what happens inside it — the programming and events that keep it vibrant and relevant to new audiences and generations. The work here is intensely interesting because while we celebrate and honor history, we’re actually focused more on the future and how we can continue to weave the Theatre into the changing social fabric of our community.

Q2: In our digital era where capturing people’s attention is harder than ever, what strategies have you found most successful in reaching your audiences to attend your events and stay engaged? 

John: I think people — especially young people — are attracted to organizations that are authentic and speak with a compelling voice. The starting point for our authenticity is our building itself, and that’s why we took such pains to make sure the recent restoration work was faithfully executed. We had to get that right or nothing else mattered. 

But to get people engaged with our programming and events, focusing on developing a voice and tone that is consistent, a bit off-beat and straight to the point has helped us gain a lot of traction. That voice and tone is consistent across all the digital platforms we utilize.

Q3. Having been at the helm of the Tampa Theatre for 33+ years, what’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to new professionals or emerging leaders based on the many lessons you’ve learned along your own journey? 

John: That’s easy: Hire and surround yourself with brilliant people who share your passion. Oh, and if anyone ever offers you a breath mint … well, you should take it.  

Q4: At NLC, we’re huge advocates of lifelong learning. What’s the one area you still want to hone or learn more about? 

John: Although I think I’ve gotten better at it, I’m always looking to improve my strategic planning skills. Specifically, I mean the process of building consensus among our many stakeholders about our direction and priorities. I can certainly write a plan, but that means nothing. I think it was Dwight Eisenhower who said, “Plans are nothing. Planning is everything.”

Q5: What’s the best book on leadership or professional development you’ve read that you think every nonprofit leader should read? 

John: “Our Iceberg is Melting” by John Kotter. It’s a great quick read on managing change. It has lessons for everyone in an organization. When it first came out, I distributed it to our staff.

Q6. What’s something interesting about you that most people don’t know? 

John: I managed another historic theater in North Carolina (The Carolina Theatre in Greensboro) before coming to Tampa. Our programming there was almost entirely live performing arts. Here, for a variety of reasons, film is the centerpiece of Tampa Theatre’s programming. While we do love to host concerts and community events at Tampa Theatre, film is the building’s heritage and is what the building still does best. Because of our film programming, many people perceive me as a film expert, but I’m not. If anything, I’m just good at figuring out the optimum programming mix for a facility.

Q7. What’s the one snack or treat you never pass up at the movies?

John: Popcorn, of course. 

Q8. What’s your favorite movie of all time? 

John: I love different types of films that are satisfying for different reasons, but the films that stay with me the most are those that have a genuine emotional payoff at the end. I love well-made films that succeed at pulling at the heart strings or that make me laugh unexpectedly. So, to “sort of” answer your question, here are a few that I’ll watch again and again: Cinema Paradiso, The General (Buster Keaton), The Shawshank Redemption, It’s a Wonderful Life and Saving Private Ryan. But that list is subject to change.

Q9. What events are happening at the Tampa Theatre that our community shouldn’t miss?  

John: There are so many! October at Tampa Theatre is always fun with the Tampa Gay and Lesbian Film Festival followed by our wonderfully creepy Halloween series, A Nightmare on Franklin Street with scores of live and film events. Tampa Theatre’s a great hall for comedians, and we have Nate Bargatze coming in on October 17, Eric Andre on November 9, Chris D’Elia on November 21 and Demetri Martin on January 18. The Florida Orchestra sounds glorious in the Tampa Theatre, and the Orchestra’s Holiday Brass Concert will be here on December 19. And of course, we’ll be announcing our annual holiday classic movie series very soon. We’re constantly adding films, concerts and special events to the calendar on our website. 

Q10. What’s the most important way people can support your organization?  

John: It seems so obvious, but I like to remind people that the best way to support Tampa Theatre — or any arts organization — is to become a member and/or buy tickets and attend events. While charitable contributions and event sponsorships are always important and cheerfully accepted, we measure our success largely by attendance. When you buy a ticket and attend an event, you’re not only helping Tampa Theatre achieve our goals, but there’s a really good chance you’ll have a great time. That’s a win-win.

READ NEXT: 10 Questions With NLC CEO Emily Benham

READ NEXT: 10 Questions With Frameworks Board Chair Jennifer Garcia

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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Meet the Newest Member of Team NLC

Emily H. Benham News

As a nonprofit that exists to support other nonprofits, the Nonprofit Leadership Center regularly assesses our offerings and operations to ensure we’re meeting the changing needs of the nonprofit sector. After completing our recent mid-year review and going through the hiring process for several open positions, we’re pleased to share some exciting announcements to deepen our collective impact.

Charlie Imbergamo will join Team NLC on September 30 as our new Director of Strategic Programs.

Charlie is a skilled leader known for his experience in mission advancement, building relationships, creating collaborative teams and establishing focused strategies in leadership and revenue development. Most recently, Charlie served as the President and CEO of Cristo Rey High School in Tampa Bay and has led several other learning institutions, including Incarnate Word Academy and Saint Joseph Academy in Texas. Charlie is an enthusiastic lifelong learner who has a deep dedication to community building. He has been active with NLC for years, currently serving as a member of CEO Circle #1 and is a past participant in our strategic decision-making cohort known as the Matrix Map.

In his role as Director of Strategic Programs, Charlie will oversee all four program areas within our mission offerings:

  1. Classroom learning opportunities (about 90 classes per year in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties focused on leadership development, board governance, financial management, fund development and communications/marketing)
  2. Custom solutions tailored to specific organization and team needs
  3. Conferences (annual Leadership Conference and fall Board & Senior Leadership Conference)
  4. Cohorts that bring together small groups of leaders to focus on specific topics or learning opportunities over a longer period of time (e.g., CEO Circles, emerging leaders, sustainability planning, etc.)

In the past, NLC staff leaders have been responsible for overseeing individual program divisions within our portfolio of offerings. We identified an opportunity to deepen integration and impact by shifting our open Director of Education and Communications position to this new Director of Strategic Programs. In this new role, Charlie will spend 60% of his time developing programs and facilitating trainings across the full spectrum of our learning opportunities. He will spend his remaining time working directly with nonprofit leaders to strengthen relationships and results. To support the operational aspects of this work, we have reallocated another open position to a Program Associate that will be posted on our job board in the coming weeks.

“I am thrilled to be joining the NLC team of lifelong learners. I look forward to working with nonprofit leaders to build capacity and to continue responding to the needs of our communities. The possibilities are endless when we work together!”

Charlie Imbergamo, Director of Strategic Programs at NLC

Charlie will be a regular contributor here on the NLC blog and will be spending a great deal of time out in the community with nonprofit leaders across the region. Charlie and our entire NLC team look forward to continuing to elevate the support we provide to our sector. You can contact Charlie at cimbergamo@nlctb.org to share your ongoing feedback and ideas as we work together to develop and connect nonprofit leaders to strengthen organizations and our community.