Where’s James? Follow PVF’s Executive Director, James Higa, out of the office for site visits and meetings with outstanding grassroots leaders.
As PVF’s new Executive Director, I have been quite busy as I get out in the field to meet with grassroots leaders. This week I met with Christa Gannon, Founder and Executive Director of Fresh Lifelines for Youth (FLY). FLY is a non-profit dedicated to reducing juvenile crime and incarceration by working with marginalized and underserved youth. Their programs include legal education, mentoring, and leadership training, which aim to help youth better understand the legal system, develop life skills, and connect with positive role models to realize their potential.
During our meeting, we started thinking about how to develop bench strength (can’t help using basketball metaphors with Christa) in non-profits. While executive directors of non-profits have professional conferences and people just entering the field have training programs to become equipped with important skills and knowledge, not a lot exists to help key managers grow professionally. When staff members develop professionally, the organization in turn is able to strengthen and prepare itself for changes. Discretionary operational funding, which is often required to invest in staff, is hard to come by. This makes the process of building bench strength difficult.