Get to Know our New CEO, Emily Benham

Nonprofit Leadership Center of Tampa Bay News

The entire board and staff at Nonprofit Leadership Center are excited to welcome our new CEO, Emily Benham, to the team. We’ve all had the opportunity to get to know Emily though the process and her previous involvement with us. Our students and stakeholders are such an important part of what we do, so we asked her for one final “interview” — a few questions so you can get to know more about her.


What are you most excited about in your new role as CEO of the Nonprofit Leadership Center?

Connecting to the good work of the nonprofits in the community. We have a great depth of nonprofits here in Tampa Bay. They make our community a better place: healthier, happier, more vibrant. NLCTB has a sterling reputation for delivering quality education and training in response to nonprofit organizational needs. I am thrilled and humbled by the opportunity to join this dynamic learning environment.

What are the biggest challenges facing nonprofit leaders today?

There are many in the changing landscape in which we operate: dwindling resources, increased need for services and the demand for greater impact and collaboration from all corners. But with these immense challenges come new found opportunities. I look forward to uncovering creative pathways to connect our work and demonstrate the true impact of our sector.

What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?

Integrity. Jerry Panas said, “Success in life is determined by the character of your journey and integrity is everything.” I couldn’t agree more.

What is your favorite leadership book?

Right now, for obvious reasons, it is The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins. A wise NLCTB trustee gave it to me recently because he recognized that, while I have worn many hats in my 20 year tenure at Bayfront, it has been a long time since I have joined a new organization. It is full of a lot of great actionable insights.

What is your proudest professional moment?

I’d have to say walking across the stage in 2009 at the Association of Healthcare Philanthropy International Conference in San Francisco to receive my Fellow designation and medal. It is the highest level of certification in the field of healthcare philanthropy. Several years before I had chaired the AHP Southeast Regional Cabinet, and we had agreed to it as a collective leadership goal. That day in 2009, with over 1,000 people in the audience, my colleagues from the southeast were making a lot of noise to celebrate with those of us being recognized. I was greeted on the other side of the stage by a receiving line of one hundred or so current Fellows assembled to shake our hands in a giant receiving line. I am grateful for so many supportive colleagues who encouraged me and coached me along the way. Working with a study group, my thinking was challenged often, and I was able to gain a new perspective on issues. I truly couldn’t have done it alone.

Tell us three things about yourself that many people wouldn’t know.

  1. I met my husband in the cello section of the Amherst-Mt. Holyoke Orchestra my freshman year in college. (Yes, I played the cello!) We’ve been married for 30 years.
  2. I am an avid equestrian. I have ridden horses since the age of 4. My equine partner, a 12 year old off the track thoroughbred named “Current Affair”, and I participate in dressage competitions throughout the southeastern United States.
  3. I once lived in South Dakota where I was the Executive Director of the South Dakota Symphony. One opening night in September, it was so cold that the special celebration flowers in the lobby froze solid. We moved to Florida shortly thereafter.


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4 Things I’ve Come to Know

Ashley Pero Stories

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.” –Margaret Wheatley

As my time as a staff member at Nonprofit Leadership Center comes to a close, I wanted to reflect on a few things I’ve come to know in my time here. These lessons, as I will call them, are not job or sector specific but rather lessons to consider no matter which title you hold.

Be kind and delightful. If you were a fly on the wall in our office you’d often hear, “Will that delight?” It’s a cultural value of the organization to satisfy and delight and we live it every day. It’s not to say that the “customer is always right,” but it does mean that you can be kind when you tell someone they aren’t going to get their way. It’s not always easy to be kind, but the extra effort is always worth it and it really makes a difference to the people you interact with (family and colleagues). Make it a habit to practice kindness and delight others. I guarantee you won’t regret it and people won’t forget that you make them feel special.

Connect often. I’ve had to privilege of meeting some amazing people while I’ve been here. It’s also been confirmed that what you hear is true, a strong network is important. It’s good for your well-being to have colleagues and friends that you can call for advice or talk through ideas. And using your connections and relationships to help others (connecting your connections if you will) makes you feel good. It’s easy to neglect those relationships, but it’s also easy to keep them alive and well. A quick coffee before work, an email with an article that would be helpful for them, a quick call to see how things are – those small gestures (that more often than not shouldn’t be about you) build relationships, and connections matter.

Seek knowledge. Knowledge comes in many forms – formal training, coaching, mentoring, experiences, volunteering, reading – and all of them should have a valued place of importance in your life. Learning keeps you sharp, allows you to contribute in meaningful ways, makes you a trusted resource, and pushes you to grow. An investment in yourself is one of the surest investments you can make. Even if the only investment you can afford to make right now is the time to stay current on your favorite news sources and blog resources, you’re worth it.

Turn it off. We all need time to recharge and disconnect (yes even you). That vacation time you’ve earned but have been saving (read: not using) needs to be used. Not just for you, but for your organization and your family. Your organization deserves a refreshed, clear-thinking version of you. Your family deserves a fully present, not work-consumed version of you. There isn’t a magic number of days to get away, you have to figure out what’s right for you. Never feel bad for taking a break from work or turning off your phone. It will all still be waiting for you when you get back and you’ll have a clear mind to tackle it.

Thank you for constantly inspiring me over the last four years. I’ve met so many wonderful people who are doing great things. Thank you for giving so much to make our community a better place to live, work, and play!

Just Released: Giving USA 2014

Sara Leonard Uncategorized

The 5 Articles series features articles covering subjects relevant to nonprofit success, leadership, marketing, human resources, communications, social media, finance and governance – articles we’d consider must reads. With so much out there to take in, we want to share five that we don’t think you should miss. Enjoy!

Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy, the seminal publication reporting on the sources and uses of charitable giving in the United States, was released last month. This annual report provides a tremendous amount of information. In case you don’t have time to read the whole report, we’ve gathered several resources to increase your understanding of the results.

Charities Try New Strategies as Fundraising Rebounds by Alex Daniels
Hear how some charities are approaching the upward swing in donations

Corporate Giving Declines 3.2%; Donor-Advised Funds Up Sharply by Alex Daniels
Who gave last year – individuals, corporations, foundations?

What You Need To Know about the New 2014 Giving USA Report by Gail Perry
Fundraising expert Gail Perry boils it down to what we need to know.

Giving USA 2014 Spreecast from The Osborne Group
Hear from experts Bob Osborne and Laurel McCombs as they discuss the results of Giving USA and what they are seeing in their work.

Giving USA: Americans Gave $335.17 Billion to Charity in 2013; Total Approaches Pre-Recession Peak from Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI
An overview of the research results from the report’s research partner

Click here to purchase the full report or download the free summary from Giving USA