A Seat at the Table: Why Board Service Matters
Krystin O’Mara, Board Bank Chair, The Junior League of Atlanta, Inc.
Each year, The Junior League of Atlanta, Inc. (JLA)’s Board Bank works with over twenty non-profit organizations serving Metro Atlanta that are looking to connect trained JLA volunteers for possible service on their governing and advisory boards. Often, an organization who look to partner with JLA to find board members have missions that align with one of JLA’s Issue-Based Community Impact focus areas: Early Childhood Education, Generational Poverty or Commercial Sexual Exploitation/Human Trafficking. This year, JLA is represented on a variety of boards including Literacy Action, GAIN, The Atlanta Speech School, The Atlanta Children’s Shelter, The Center for Puppetry Arts, March of Dimes, Live Healthy and Thrive Youth Foundation, Innovative Solutions for Disadvantage and Disability to name a few.
Additionally, JLA trains members to serve on boards through the JLA Leadership Institute’s Board Readiness course. The program teaches skills needed to be an effective board member and have a positive impact on the organization.
Why is it important for women to give of their time to nonprofit organizations through board service?
- Having a seat at the table means you can exert your influence and power. At the table, you are a decision-maker. You help shape the direction of the organization and use your power and influence to improve the communities we live in. As a JLA member who sits on a board, there is potential to increase the community impact of both organizations by forging and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships.
- Being at the table teaches valuable leadership skills. A recent Board Readiness class featured Marketing Expert and JLA Sustainer Charlotte King, who shared wisdom from her years of experience sitting on nonprofit boards. Her advice? “Raise your hand. If it makes you uncomfortable, do it anyway.” Learning to be comfortable at the table requires experience, leadership skills, and confidence that not all of us have right away. However, being uncomfortable can be a motivator to grow personally and professionally, and to make peace with managing the risk and responsibility that comes with a high-impact position.
- Personal experiences join you at the table. It is important to have a diverse group of board members sitting over an organization because each member brings their own unique skill sets, backgrounds, and personal experiences with them. Combined, these experiences create the synergy needed to guide an organization towards a better understanding of the people they serve and ultimately the direction a nonprofit takes.
The Junior League of Atlanta, Inc. will host a Board Bank fair on March 25, where members will be invited to engage with local organizations looking for qualified candidates to apply for roles on their boards. To learn more about partnering with the JLA, email [email protected] for information.