As the executive director of a nonprofit, I report to the board of directors. That means that depending on the size of the board, I have had 7-17 bosses at any given time in the last nine and a half years. Lucky for me, the OCF board nomination process has resulted in attracting talented and dedicated professionals. We recently implemented an exit interview to collect information from individuals after they leave the board. The following is the valuable feedback from Mary Tomaski who just completed three full terms and after nine years is term limited. Mary said “yes to the OCF” just a few months after I was hired and in many ways I feel like Mary and I have “grown up” together. For those of you who have been our friends since 2012, know we have made significant progress. The progress is not a coincidence but a result from so many like Mary, true team players sharing their time, talent and treasure. Mary’s exit interview has many memories that are worth sharing….
What is your first memory of serving on the OCF board?
I wasn’t on the board officially yet, but I remember being in the bank basement (probably working on Extreevaganza), and you and Janice (one of the few board members who existed at that time) were having a meeting. And you two asked me if I would consider being on the OCF board. I think I said yes on the spot and was very honored how pleased you both were.
What was your first sense of accomplishment on the board?
National Standards, Tab 5 completion and the completion of the other sections of the application. Overall, what that meant was eventually earning National Standards accreditation, the highest standards for philanthropic excellence for the organization. We all learned a lot completing the process and I believe it set us on a focused path to becoming a respected, trusted, sustainable philanthropic leader. Before we even started to think this would be a worthy project, I remember having to overcome the feeling at the time that the effort/cost wouldn’t be worth it. You, also, Dana, led us correctly in rethinking the value of the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF). Prevailing thought was that being a member was too expensive and that the CMF didn’t really have much value for the OCF.
What did you enjoy?
I enjoyed all of it. I enjoyed the board meetings, my colleagues, the new branding process, the strategic planning, seeing how Extreevaganza planning evolved, the CMF conferences. I was proud of the OCF as it was named the Alpenfest Honored Industry and I was humbled by receiving the Kevin Reynolds’ Achievement Award. I miss the donor acknowledgement gatherings and other foundation-related events that brought those who believe in the mission together.
What were some challenges?
We continue to be challenged by how much we could be doing and being limited by financial and personnel resources. The OCF has a professional, qualified staff who is under-compensated and sometimes (I would guess) frustrated by the limited number of hours in a day you can work. The OCF needs to continue to grow its Cornerstone and Community Funds, as well as perhaps establishing additional substantial unrestricted funds.
What did you learn?
I learned that nonprofits should be run as a business. I learned that leaders in this county are insightful and caring, and that it is important a board be representative of the community it represents. From watching you, Dana, I learned to discover the strengths in co-workers, and then put them in roles at which they can succeed and, in turn, make the organization better. From you, I also learned to remember to develop relationships with people (Chip Hansen) and organizations (CMF, Board Source) that can give valuable information or options that, again, can help the organization. Sometimes for free! My experience on the board once again proved to me that volunteers gain as much as they give when involved in organizations that are community and mission driven. I am appreciative of you, Amanda and Karin. I am confident the leaders in place will continue to grow the OCF’s presence in our county.
What do you want others to know?
That the Foundation provides unique, important services to donors. That the Foundation has been a valuable supporter of the community during the pandemic. That the Foundation staff is talented, loyal and forward thinking.