Leading The Way: The Benefits Of Civic Leadership And Community Involvement

by Rosemary Lamaestra

If you missed the presentation, so sorry.  It was worth your time to hear from a panel of experienced professionals on this topic, not to mention the networking and delicious snacks as well as CLE and CPE for the attorneys and accountants in attendance.  On Monday, October 28th, Lori Molloy, Madlen Miller, and I discussed the importance of being involved in the community, in particular, being part of a Board of Directors for a non-profit organization. The presentation focused on Leadership by Leading the Way.  Although it was geared to emerging professionals, information was shared that benefited all professional levels in our community.  As members of society, it is our responsibility to build up our communities and see that they thrive, putting our talents to good use.  Part of this responsibility rests with volunteer work – whether giving legal advice, dishing out food at a soup kitchen, delivering meals to the elderly, or building homes.

In addition to being an attorney, Lori Molloy is the Executive Director of North Penn Legal Services.  She shared her thoughts on what she looks for when choosing a Board member.  In particular, for her organization, the person must be an attorney, so her pool of candidates is much smaller than that of a typical search where the Board would include professionals from diverse backgrounds to enhance the skills and vision of the organization.

Lori addressed such topics as Duty of Care and Duty of Loyalty – both fiduciary responsibilities of a non-profit Board of directors.  Duty of Care means that Board directors must give the same care and concern to their Board responsibilities as any prudent and ordinary person would – they must actively participate in board meetings.  Duty of Loyalty requires Board directors to place the interests of the organization ahead of their own interest at all times and not use Board service as a means for personal gain.  An annual retreat allows Board members to develop a strategic plan and goals for the future.  It also builds camaraderie among the Board members, oftentimes allowing them to get to know each other on a more personal level.

Madlen Miller is the Director of Marketing and Analytics at Morton Brown Family Wealth and has years of experience coaching new members of firms by assisting them in growing their talents and strengths.  She shared tips on how to juggle work, voluntary, and personal time.  Maddy suggested to start, you should discover your passion, so volunteering will be enjoyable as opposed to a chore.  As a stepping stone, you may want to become part of the Board, which will further enhance your appreciation of the organization.  She explained that employers must be on-board with allowing their employees to give back to the community through their time and talent on company time.  Many firms allot time for this to take place.  The benefits for both employer and employee are endless.  The community sees first-hand through the employee how the employer is involved, and that in-turn, promotes their business.

I am a Certified Public Accountant and Certified Fraud Examiner.  I shared my thoughts on the importance of the fiduciary responsibilities – paying attention in Board meetings and keeping a watchful eye on the spending of the organization to remain fiscally responsible.  All too often, we hear what happens to small non-profits because no one was watching – someone walks away with the money.  The Board must be fully involved to prevent this from happening.  Although the name, non-profit, connotates no profit, income as a result of activities is used to cover expenses and can show a positive bank balance. In fact, this income can be essential to an organization’s survival.

Our emerging professionals are the next generation of Leaders in our community.  In their professional role, they are looked to for sound advice and guidance, their voice is impactful to the community, and they are considered trusted advisors in their field.  A transition to Board Leadership is something that will round out their life experiences and help them grow as a person.  As quoted by John Quincy Adams, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

Related Articles