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Board Leadership

We created the Excellence in Governance and Excellence in Governance ReConnect because effective board governance is imperative to the success, long-term sustainability and community results of nonprofit organizations. We recognize the valuable contributions that boards can make, understand that board education and development opportunities are limited, and that board members benefit from professional development and peer interaction. 

Our Excellence in Governance programs help boards create lasting, adaptive change and transform from responsible to exceptional. Ever evolving, our programs seek to further build upon an established foundation by expanding the number of participants, deepening the content and engaging program graduates in ongoing conversations and opportunities.

With the help of governance experts, we are uniquely positioned to help board members learn and apply concepts on:
  • Building constructive partnerships and an engaging board culture.
  • Fostering functional and social inclusion.
  • Sustaining organizational resources.
  • Becoming ambassadors beyond the board room.
  • Creating lasting, adaptive change.
  • Intentional and meaningful equity, diversity and inclusion on the board.
We are not currently accepting applications. Please return in spring 2022 when applications will open again. 

Quote from 2018 Excellence in Governance graduate: "My experience with Excellence in Governance, on a personal level, has been excellent. As board president, I have learned much in the way of what a highly effective board looks like and how it should function."

Excellence in Governance

Strong, engaged leadership is critical to successful organizations and to the people they serve. Using a performance-based framework paired with governance principles, each participating board will define their own success and measure effectiveness in the context of the organization and the community it serves.  All participants — including NeighborWorks America — will increase knowledge and understanding of the characteristics of exceptional governing boards, as well as the ability to identify characteristics and methods to increase effectiveness in governance.

While we are not accepting applications at this time, we encourage you to review the details below to begin considering whether your board is ready to apply for the 2022 round. 


Core Program Components

The program enhances governance through changing behaviors, strengthening ways of doing business for the long term, as well as enhancing the culture of the board. The core components of the program include:

  • A team approach involving a five-member leadership team that includes the executive director/CEO, at least one board officer and three current or emerging board leaders.
  • A governance coach with extensive community development experience to work with the same leadership team throughout the process.
  • The full board being engaged through a board retreat, site visits and leadership team reports and activity.
  • A governance focus 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, etc.). 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 trainings 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.'

Time and Cost Commitments

In a very real and explicit sense, the "price" of participation is the time, effort, work and commitment each team brings to the governance focus that the board defines.

NeighborWorks America will expect each team to devote a substantial amount of energy and thought to really solving the governance goal(s) and mining this opportunity. In exchange for the substantial real costs being subsidized, we demand that each team perform against their governance principles and related governance focus and that each team also provide us and potential future participants with feedback on the experience.

Specifically, leadership team members must participate in the three weekend-long trainings and board retreat. In addition, monthly calls between the leadership team and governance coach are required. As program milestones approach, the leadership team will need to convene additional meetings in order to complete projects. Finally, prior to each in-person training there is required pre-work.

Participation in the program requires a commitment of time and resources from the organization and its full board of directors as well. This includes but is not limited to a full board retreat with the Excellence in Governance coach between June and September, agreement on selected governance principles, crafting of and progress made against a governance focus, incorporating time for the leadership team updates following in-person trainings into board meetings, etc.

When applications open for the next cohort, we will share more detailed information. Historically, costs have included ground transportation related to the in-person trainings, meals outside of the four provided during the in-person trainings, incidentals related to travel, and on-site expenses such as meals, refreshments and meeting space.

Excellence in Governance ReConnect

Our Excellence in Governance ReConnect is an exclusive program for graduate organizations of our Excellence in Governance Program. We developed ReConnect in response to feedback and requests from graduate organization board members.

Using a customized approach, this unique program offers current and incoming board chairs the opportunity to enhance their individual board leadership abilities and governance knowledge while increasing the success of their organizations
Excellence in Governance
The combined reach and expertise of NeighborWorks America and BoardSource gives unprecedented training and resources to build exceptional boards.

"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 of NeighborWorks Western Pennsylvania, Excellence in Governance 2014 Graduate

Excellence in Governance ReConnect
Excellence in Governance Graduate Organizations

Contact Us
Class of 2020 Concept Paper
Want to learn more about our Excellence in Governance Program? Our class of 2020 concept paper offers insights on why organizations should consider participating. 
Staff Development
Cultures of Excellence and Communites of Excellence
Achieving Excellence
Interested in the NeighborWorks Achieving Excellence Program?