Board Leadership

Excellence in Governance was exactly what we needed.
-Executive director, 2012 survey

Strong, engaged leadership is critical to successful organizations and to the people they serve. We created the Excellence in Governance program to help community development corporation (CDC) boards create lasting, adaptive change and transform from responsible to exceptional.


Excellence in Governance
The combined reach and expertise of NeighborWorks America and BoardSource gives unprecedented training and resources to build exceptional boards.

Program details

As a collaboration between NeighborWorks America and BoardSource, Excellence in Governance draws on what both organizations do well already and adds:
  • A team approach involving a four member leadership team, including the executive director/CEO and three current or emerging board leaders.
  • A coach with extensive community development experience to work with the same leadership team throughout the process. 
  • The full board is engaged through a board retreat, coach site visits and leadership team reports and activity.
  • A performance challenge framework that creates a customized experience for each team which focuses on real issues in real time (i.e., merger, succession plan, expansion of service area).  The goal is to focus on important existing work rather than to create new work.
  • 18 months because change takes time.
  • Three weekend in-person sessions with skilled trainers, experts and peers.
  • Longitudinal analysis through interviewing graduates 18-24 months after completing the program to capture changes in board behavior, habits or culture which have ‘stuck’.
  • A $10,000 completion grant to further board strengthening.


  • Sept. 2014: Applications become available.
  • Oct. 14, 22 and Nov. 5, 2014: Information sessions are held via telephone; see concept paper for details.
  • Dec. 2014: Afternoon information session held at  NeighborWorks Training Institute in Washington, DC.
  • Jan. 9, 2015: Application deadline.
  • Mar. 2, 2015: All applicants are notified of status.
  • Early Mar. 2015: A coach is identified for each team; start monthly coaching calls.
  • Apr. 2015:  First coach site visit involving leadership team and full board.
  • May 1-3, 2015: first in-person session weekend in Kansas City.
  • May 2015: leadership team online assessment.
  • Jun.-Sept. 2015: full board retreat
  • Dec. 4-6, 2015: Second in-person session weekend in Washington, DC.
  • Jan. 2016: Mid-point evaluation is conducted.
  • Apr. 29-May 1, 2016: Third in-person session weekend in Los Angeles.
  • Sept.-Oct. 2016: Graduation at full board meeting, grant award; leadership team assessment and program evaluation.


  • Board demonstrates that the organization is board-led rather than staff-led.
  • Board is currently focused on board development or has identified this as a new priority.
  • Board and/or organization is not currently experiencing a crisis.
  • Board has completed and submits a board self-assessment within FY2014 or FY2015.
  • All board members and executive director are willing to commit time and effort to board performance challenge and practicing the identified governance principles over an 18-month period.
  • Leadership team members commit to attend all three in-person sessions.
  • For NeighborWorks network organizations: Organization meets or exceeds NeighborWorks America’s PROMPT standard for organizational management and has a rating of exemplary, strong or satisfactory.
Note that each round we receive more applications than we can accept. We choose participants based on their organizational readiness and suitability for the program.

To find out more about Excellence in Governance, click here.
Do not fear a more engaged and exceptional board of directors...we are a healthier and more agile organization ready for the challenges ahead.
- Colin Kelley, CEO, NeighborWorks Western Pennsylvania, Excellence in Governance 2014 graduate

The 2014 Excellence in Governance graduating class 

  • Knox Housing Partnership, Knoxville, TN
  • Midwest Minnesota CDC, Detroit Lakes, MN
  • Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida, Miami, FL
  • NeighborWorks Southern Mass, Quincy, MA
  • NeighborWorks Great Falls, Great Falls, MT
  • NeighborWorks Montana,  Great Falls, MT
  • NeighborWorks Waco, Waco, TX
  • NeighborWorks Western Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Pathfinder Services, Huntington, IN
  • Rebuilding Together South Sound, Tacoma, WA
  • RuralEdge, Lyndonville, VT
  • Twin Cities CDC, Fitchburg, MA
  • Willamette Neighborhood Housing Services, Corvallis, OR

Training & Services

For more information, contact:

2016 Applications:

Network Application
Non-Network Application