Jennifer Strom's recent follow-up on the controversy surrounding Divers Alert Network and the leadership of [former CEO] Peter Bennett should be required reading for everyone who works, volunteers, and donates to the nonprofit sector ("Still Making Waves," July 23).
Take an inventory of nonprofits, particularly here in the Triangle - and you will find "leaders" who are living legends and have earned numerous awards for their vision and brilliance. Many of these leaders, as in Bennett's case, were instrumental in founding the organization and continue to serve years, and even decades, later.
However, an organization is larger than the vision of one person or one leader. For anyone to think otherwise is selfish, arrogant, and tremendously egotistical, particularly within the nonprofit sector where an organization's mandate is much bigger than any one person.
Sometimes, as in the case of the Duke University Museum of Art, tough decisions to change leadership are indeed made ("Work of Art," Aug. 6). However, all too often nonprofit boards are merely rubber-stamps of the executive director. There's something about nonprofits--they almost lend themselves to making this acceptable. Many organizations fail to make a board quorum all year, coupled with the fact that many board members never cycle off to afford fresh ideas and leadership.
We are all stewards of the organizations we serve, whether as a donor, an executive director, a staff member, a volunteer or a board member. We must all strive to ensure the organization is best positioned to effect desired outcomes and change in the communities it is chartered to serve.
There is an opportunity-cost and comfort level that comes from leadership that is not challenged by a board of directors. Founder's syndrome can be found in just about any type of organization, but it is particularly rampant in the nonprofit sector. Perhaps not always as pathological as in the case of DAN, but there are executive directors and board members throughout the sector that need to understand that you can move on and in fact, owe it to the organization to do just that.
The nonprofit sector is sustained by philanthropy and a never-ending supply of energy and new ideas. Challenge yourself to contribute both to causes you hold close to your heart. At the same time, check and ensure that stewardship and true leadership are alive and well in those organizations. Vote with your dollars and your time.
I just read your excellent piece, "Counter Intelligence." It made me cry. As I read the last paragraph, tears of great sadness streamed down my cheeks. Please keep on being the "purveyor of subversion and sedition." America needs all the help it can get in overcoming the present gang of thugs.
I read with interest the shocking story of Marc Schultz and his visit from the FBI ("Counter Intelligence," July 23). I had read the "offending" article and considered it to be one of the most concise and damning pieces on the media I have read. I am fortunate enough to live in a free country, Sweden. I moved here by choice, having been born and raised in England. The close ties between the U.K. and the U.S. were too strong and damaging and I could see a pattern emerging. I didn't want to be a fat temp-worker drinking coffee in Starbucks. I wanted a real future and real security. My heart goes out to the citizens of the U.S., as it does to all the oppressed.
I hope that your writing reaches the audience it needs to, the American public. The U.S. has given us so much--Mork and Mindy, R.E.M. and the word "dumb-ass," to name but a few. I would hate to see it all wasted because of a group of people so power-hungry and greedy that they are willing to strip everything to get more and more power and money. The damage they have caused to American society is so much greater than any bomb could ever cause.
Keep up the good work, Mr. Crowther.
The Aug. 6 cover story on the Duke University Museum of Art misspelled the late William Heckscher's name and misidentified his department. Heckscher, who directed the museum from 1970 to 1974, chaired the Department of Art History. Also, two clarifications: The Brummer collection of medieval sculpture did become part of the museum's permanent collection, and is today the largest medical sculpture collection in an academic museum; and Duke's governing board is known as the Board of Trustees.
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