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Board Leadership Certificate Info Sessions

Southside Arts and Humanities Network
Board Leadership Certificate Informational Sessions

Develop the knowledge you need to become a successful board member of a small South Side arts organization. The training you receive will enable you to make a positive impact while building your professional skills and civic responsibility.

The Southside Arts & Humanities Network (The Network) offers a Board Leadership Certificate program designed to leverage the University resources to provide participating Southside cultural organizations with talent for their boards. The Board Leadership program is unique in two ways: First, it aims to serve small and emerging arts and humanities organizations with annual budgets of less than $500,000. These organizations often have “working boards” that require dedication. Second, this program is “by the Southside, for the Southside” — with an emphasis on connecting the intellectual resources of the University of Chicago community with the cultural resources of local non-profits. The program will train participants and match their skills and interests with one of 10-15 selected small South Side cultural institutions.


Informational Session: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 12:00-1:30pm

Informational Session: Tuesday, April 24, 2012  12:00-1:30pm

Where: Graham School of General Studies, Press Building, 1427 E. 60th Street, Chicago, IL, 60637 Room 230

RSVP: (Lunch included for those who RSVP)

Who should participate:

  • -Are you a staff member or alum of the University of Chicago who is passionate about the arts and humanities and is seeking a meaningful volunteer opportunity on the South Side of Chicago?
  • -Are you a mid-level professional, seeking an opportunity to grow your professional skills particularly in the area of marketing, fundraising, technology, or finance?
  • -Are you an alum or local resident who has retired from business and is looking to use one’s skills in the arts non-profit section?
  • -Are you passionate about developing the South Side of Chicago into a vibrant cultural destination?


Board Leadership Certificate application available:

Here is a short video that describes the work of the Network and highlights the Board Leadership Certificate Program.

Program Structure/Curriculum

“How to be an Effective Member of a Nonprofit Arts/Humanities Board”

Small-to-medium sized nonprofit arts and humanities organizations rely heavily on highly qualified and motivated volunteers willing to serve as Board members to help advance their organizational missions. This four-course, 12-hour program will provide enrolled individuals with a thorough understanding of the essential qualifications, requirements, duties and expectations for successful arts/humanities Board membership. The course is tied to the Board Development program of the South Side Arts & Humanities Network, a program of the Civic Knowledge Project, which will seek to place certified individuals on the Boards of qualifying Network member organizations.


All students will complete the following four 3-hour courses to earn the program certificate:

Orientation: Oct 11, 5-7pm

Nonprofit Arts/Humanities Organization Structure and Lifecycle

Organizational Lifecycle: Oct 20, 2012Instructor: Lisa M. Tylke

The first course examines the often unique structures of arts organizations and their boards. Through this lens, this session defines different modes of operating and achieving accountability that can lead to results. The role of the nonprofit arts board member comes more sharply into focus as we examine the relationship between the board and staff, and some of the challenges posed by staffing and board transitions. This session also looks at the “life cycle” of a typical arts organization, from the founding staff and board, to the more professionally managed staff and corresponding working board, to the later stage governing board. By the end of the session, participants will be able to relate the different stages of development of an organization to the associated goals, priorities, and activities of the board.

Fiduciary and Legal Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards

Legal and Fiduciary: Nov 3rd, 2012 Instructor: Elizabeth Milnikel and Jeff Leslie

The two-part course will cover the core fiduciary and legal responsibilities of board trustees, including financial oversight and safeguarding of organizational assets and nonprofit status. One of the most powerful tools for board members is the organization’s financial statements. The first portion of this course reviews the financial reporting and auditing requirements for nonprofits, with special focus on the Form 990 and its required disclosures. The conclusion to this portion of the course will explore how to regard and use these tools effectively as a new board member. In the second half of the course, students will learn about the legal responsibilities and liabilities that accompany service on a nonprofit board. Laws governing nonprofit boards, as well as the Volunteer Protection Act of 1997, will be reviewed. This portion will examine how nonprofit (501c3) status affects the ability of an arts organization to earn business income and the tax implications of UBIT (Unrelated Business Income Tax).

Board Role in Nonprofit Organization Development and Fundraising

Grassroots Fundraising: Nov 17, 2012 Instructor: Jackie Kaplan-Perkins

The third course introduces board candidates to the complex landscape of funding for nonprofit arts organizations, identifying and defining the sources of philanthropic support and the role board members are expected to play in securing that support. A working definition of fundraising is “the process of matching an organization’s mission, and the implementation of that mission, to the philanthropic desires and objectives of others”—examining this definition further, the lecturer will review the major types of contributed revenue, from corporations and foundations, to governments and individuals. In each case, common motivations for giving will be identified. Specific strategies must be implemented in the pursuit and acquisition of these different sources of contributed revenue. Major fundraising techniques will be addressed throughout the discussion, and panelists will illustrate diverse strategies in the context of their own work, and answer candidates’ questions about their future role as a fundraiser.

Effective Nonprofit Board Leadership and Management Approaches

Leadership and Management: Dec, 1, 2012 Instructor: Jackie Kaplan-Perkins

This course will serve as an “application lab” or workshop intended to generate discussion among the students regarding board structure, activities and dynamics they have observed during the process of meeting with a variety of arts/humanities organizations. A lecturer will discuss methods by which boards evaluate their performance and work to improve their effective governance in terms of board structure, organization, processes and team dynamics. Students will also benefit from the perspective of a panel of individuals who have joined boards of a variety of art/humanities organizations in the past year.

Participants have said:

Sara Ware: “This Program was excellent and exceeded my expectations. I found the course sessions to be interesting and dynamic, and the instructors were outstanding… I feel prepared to join a board now, and I ‘d recommend this program to anyone.”

D.E. Simmons, an art collector and a board member of Diasporal Rhythms said, “There is something else that you have added to the mix—you highlighted some very diverse and very impactful organizations that are doing great things in their community but are not widely known by individuals who may want to help and participate in their causes.”

Kathy DeVries, a senior executive at the University of Chicago Hospitals, noted in her feedback: “Excellent! Please continue and expand this great work.”

Oyekunle Oyegbemi from Ifa Yoruba Contemporary Arts Foundation listed several highlights of the Program for his organization: “1. Being able to match our needs with potential board members. 2. Being able to have face to face conversation about our organization and mission with potential board members. 3. Having access to a broad network of people that could help us be more successful. 4. Learning things that are necessary to build a successful organization. …I am fortunate to have participated in this program and believe that it is a game changer in the ability of our organization to be successful. I would not have had access to the experience and talents that my new board members bring to the table. Thank you.”


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