What does it mean to develop and connect nonprofit leaders?

Emily H. Benham, CEO Resources

About five years ago, my brother asked me a (seemingly) simple question: “What do you do?” Try as I might to come up with creative ways to explain the Nonprofit Leadership Center’s work, my role and the challenges facing our sector, my brother kept coming to the same conclusion: “So, NLC teaches, and you’re a teacher?” While teaching is an important part of what we do, he didn’t fully grasp the scope, depth and complexity of NLC’s work. Being his little sister, it was very important to me that he understood.

NLC CEO Emily H. Benham

It was during a strategic retreat last year when an image suddenly hit me that might help my brother, and anyone, understand the key principles and unique essence of NLC’s business. Wait for it … a robotic vacuum cleaner most of us know as the Roomba.

Now, stick with me here. Picture me explaining this to my brother:

  • The NLC develops and connects nonprofit leaders to strengthen organizations and our community.
  • We have two customers: 1) individuals and 2) organizations. We work with them to build internal strength to benefit our community. 
  • We have five areas of expertise: Board Governance, Fund Development, Financial Management, Leadership, and Marketing.
  • Our customers can receive resources in a number of different forms, choosing their own adventure.

Now, let’s take a spin around our “NLC Roomba,” lighting up the different opportunities for developing and connecting nonprofit leaders.

Nonprofit Leadership Center offerings

Our first light is CONFERENCE. We hold two conferences each year, our Leadership Conference in May (see highlights from our latest event here) and a Board and Senior Leadership Conference in the fall. These are tremendous opportunities for hundreds of nonprofit and business leaders to come together to learn and lift up our community together.

The second light is CLASSROOM. We offer more than 75 professional development classes annually at our training center in Tampa, and we’ve launched a new series in Pinellas County this year. From attracting new donors and better managing staff and boards to improving time management and communications skills, our expert trainers help nonprofit leaders strengthen their personal skills and organizational impact.

Next, CUSTOM SOLUTIONS is our largest area. This is where we bring tailored training directly to organizations. We have a highly regarded assessment tool we are certified to use to help organizations identify opportunities and overcome obstacles. New this year, we launched a Fast Forward Emerging Leadership Series to help rising stars grow within their organizations.

Finally, our COHORTS connect and engage networks of individuals and organizations in intimate, small-group settings where conversation and collaboration lead to innovation and impact. Currently, we have a group of professionals engaged in our Nonprofit Management Certificate program at the University of Tampa and two CEO Leadership Circles where more than 30 nonprofit CEOs come together regularly.

Our newest cohort is the 2019 JP Morgan Chase Nonprofit Sustainability cohort, which is a six-month process that helps organizations create and/or strengthen their strategic decision-making process. This year’s participants include: 211 Tampa Bay Cares, Boys and Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay, CASA, Champions for Children, Dawning Family Services, Feeding Tampa Bay, Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services, Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas & West Pasco, Lighthouse Pinellas, and McDonald Training Center.

As you can see, there are many ways to access resources within NLC’s areas of excellence. The magic happens when organizations and individuals participate in several areas, lighting up multiple lights on the Roomba, illustrating true impact and sustainability.

So, there it is. The NLC Roomba. Best of all, my brother totally got it!

On behalf of all of us at NLC, we are honored to be your partner in this work, building internal strength and capacity so you can deliver your mission to the community. Your work inspires ours.


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