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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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