A Leadership Academy

For the past six months I’ve been collaborating with the great folks at ONEplace@KPL in Kalamazoo (see “Building Nonprofit Capacity” for more on ONEplace) on creating the ONEplace Nonprofit Leadership Academy (ONLA). The first group of 20 high-potential nonprofit managers begins their journey tomorrow morning, and I confess to being pretty darn excited! Thanks to Bobbe Luce (founder and ED at ONEplace) Kalamazoo County nonprofits will have a ready-to-lead group of future executive directors. Bobbe’s research shows that a majority of the EDs of larger nonprofits are above the age of 50, and many are within less than 5 years of retirement. This means there will be lots of turnover at the top of these organizations.

This is not an issue just for our local nonprofits, but a national issue that needs attention. Many of the current EDs are also the founders of these larger nonprofits, and grooming leaders to follow in those footsteps is just not being done. And in many cases little or no succession planning has been done by nonprofit boards. Thus, ONLA is born.

Tomorrow the group will receive the results of a 360-degree feedback survey of their Employees, Peers, and Manager. For many this will be the first time they’ve received this kind of feedback, and the buzz within the group is pretty high. This is going to be a great series of experiences for these 20 future EDs. Stay tuned!


  1. Paul-
    OnePlace has established a great model for succession planning and leadership development. You’re absolutely right that it is not just a concern for the Kalamazoo region. It is also not exclusive to the nonprofit community. Deloitte recently released its TalentEdge 2012 report, which summarized findings from a survey of 276 senior executives worldwide ― two-thirds of which held board, CEO, CFO, CHRO or HR/talent director positions. Succession planning was a common theme: 30% said developing leaders and succession planning would be a top priority and 29% said it would remain so for the next three years.

    • Thanks for your comment, Gretchen. The Deloitte TalentEdge report shows the private sector is well aware of the succession planning and staff development challenges facing many organizations. Aw we Baby Boomers head into retirement age (regardless of what that turns out to mean in each case) the need to develop tomorrow’s leadership has never been more acute.

  2. […] addition to the ONEplace Nonprofit Leadership Academy, we are currently completing a 360-degree management and leadership assessment process for two […]

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