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Option Ultrasound Directors This area is for Pregnancy Resource Centers wanting to get started in the OUP program or needing information pertinent to the program.

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What Qualities Should an Executive Director Expect in the Board?

The partnership between the Board of Directors and the Executive Director is the most critical relationship for the successful PRC. As a symbiotic relationship, it will either propel the center to greatness or cause it to wallow in mediocrity.

In the book, The Nonprofit Leadership Team, Fisher Howe lists the desired characteristics of the Board. Though the list is not exhaustive it provides great discussion for the board and the E.D. I will use Howe's list and then provide how it works in the PRC.

  • Participation – The occasional board member is not prepared for meetings, and the board member that either arrives late or leaves early are very troublesome for the ED. Board meetings are time for the ED to open the organization for scrutiny and to seek the wisdom of the board. The board member that is there in name can cause the ED to feel insignificant. Meeting attendance is a key expectation of every board member.

  • Competence – Board members are asked to serve because there is a perceived level of expertise and experience. This may not be in nonprofit governance, but the ED counts on each member contributing something to the organization that will be useful. These skills may be in finance, management, fundraising, government, leadership or other areas. Greatest of all these for the PRC board is a level of spiritual competence that will assure the ED that the board member is seeking God's will daily.

  • Team Player – The adage “The board speaks with one voice, or not at all” assures the ED that they are not going to be undermined or blindsided by a wayward board member. Good board members lay down personal agendas, ask constructive, probing questions, and commit themselves to the team to make the organization a winning place.

  • Support – The ED counts on the board to be supportive, both internally and externally. This means the board member does not try to do the executive's work within the organization and willing works to make the executive's work outside the organization easier (i.e. fundraising.)

  • Contribution – Scripture teaches that “where your treasure is there will your heart be also.” It is hypocritical for board members to make decisions concerning finances, which come from the sacrificial giving of donors, if they are not contributing themselves. Every board should have a policy that requires board members to contribute financially to the organization.

  • Sense of Humor – If you take yourself too seriously you are not going to be much help to the ED.

  • Enthusiasm – Board members need to be involved. Walks, banquets, and other events should be a part of the board member's commitment.

This list provides some characteristics that an ED can expect from her board. If you are an ED and your board hasn't "arrived," remember that a good ED finds ways to build up the board and provides opportunity of enhancing those skills that need work.


Bruce E. Cole is Manager of Professional Development Services in the Sanctity of Human Life Department at Focus on the Family. He has been Executive Director for two Pregnancy Resource Centers, is a former pastor, and holds a Master's Degree in Organization Development from Central Washington University. Bruce can be reached at [email protected]

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