Get Ready to Lead
Free Course Teaches Nonprofit Board Membership Skills

Time. Talent. Treasure. These are gifts leaders share as they serve on nonprofit boards. Out of passion for the mission and a desire to serve, thousands of local residents volunteer to guide, direct and lead the many nonprofit organizations that contribute to the wellbeing and vibrancy of our community.

Minnesota and Olmsted County are rich with nonprofits focused on basic human needs, the environment, health, human rights, faith, arts, education, animal welfare, science, history, culture, birds, wildlife, politics and more. With more than 300 nonprofits in Olmsted County alone, leadership opportunities abound. By statute, a nonprofit must have a minimum of three board members, although typically a board roster falls between seven and fifteen.

I often hear, “I’d like to serve, but I’m not certain I have the skills.” Ready to Lead provides basic board leadership skills, a mentor and networking connecting course graduates with nonprofit and government leadership opportunities. Started 20 years ago, Ready to Lead invites youth, women, people of color and other under-represented groups to participate in a four-session training.

Ready to Lead builds knowledge around roles and responsibilities of boards and individual members as laid out in federal and state laws, teaches how to read and understand financial statements, explains differing types of governance and gives hands-on experience with Robert Rules of Order to run and participate in meetings. Instilled with these skills, Ready to Lead graduates feel confident and better equipped to step into leadership roles.

Nearly 80% of Ready to Lead graduates have assumed leadership roles in the community, including elected office. Being the only person of color, LGBTQ+ person or young person on an established board can be intimidating, yet the importance of diverse voices and inclusive policy-making perspectives remains paramount. The course, conducted by volunteers, is free to participants.

Serving on a board or commission means leading, formulating policy and setting direction for an organization. A broad range of perspectives, life experience and representation brings a valuable lens when serving a diverse population. Board leadership asks people to bring their passion and skills to a different level beyond ordinary volunteering. “I love this organization,” shares a Ready to Lead alumnus serving on a local board. “I feel like I gain more than I give.”

If you are ready to take the next step toward community leadership through board participation, consider applying for this free program. Ready to Lead provides a unique opportunity to build a foundation for engaged board membership, as well as direct connections to leadership opportunities. Information and application may be found online at Ready to Lead Rochester MN.

About Author

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April serves as Director of Innovation and Collaboration with Family Service Rochester. Her many responsibilities include leading the Senior Independence Services division where they work collaboratively with many organizations to enable older adults and persons with disabilities to remaining living independently in the homes and community they love. April leads FSR’s quality initiative as well as grant writing and new ventures. April holds a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Montana. She’s an avid cyclists, gardener and world traveler. April enjoys officiating men’s and women’s collegiate, club and high school volleyball and is the 1st woman in MN to earn a National certification as a volleyball official.

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