Barry Rowan – Reflections from Attending at Least One Board Meeting Every Quarter for the Past 40 Years – Part 1


“The world says we are what we do, but the deeper truth is that what we do is an expression of who we are.” -Barry Rowan

My guest today wears so many hats that there are so many different directions in which this conversation with him could have gone. Barry Rowan spent his undergraduate days at the College of Idaho where he got a degree in Business Administration and Chemical Biology. He was also a member of the Varsity Ski Team at the College of Idaho, but perhaps what’s most poignant about Barry is the fact that he has been in either a nonprofit or private sector boardroom for nearly forty years, and it’s all of this board experience that we talk about in this episode of the podcast!

Barry details his board experience, including his very first board and what got him into this field in the first place. He touches upon what drives him and reveals why he only serves on two nonprofit boards simultaneously. Barry also offers his perspective on what the key responsibilities of a board are (including but not limited to ensuring that the board has the right kind of leader), the best onboarding practices, the pros and cons of term limits, and so much more!

It takes a special calling to be an influential board member, and can you imagine being in a board meeting every quarter for forty years? This is only the first part featuring Barry, so stay tuned for the completion of this conversation in a future episode.  Next week out guest will be Dr. Ben Sells – President of Ouachita Baptist University where we discuss “the changing landscape of higher education”. Thank you for joining us today, and don’t forget to hit the subscribe button so that you never miss an episode of Next Gen Nonprofit Leadership! I also encourage you to share the podcast with a friend who would also be likely to get something out of it, especially since word-of-mouth tends to be the most effective type of marketing!

“I think every person should be sober-minded and objective. Otherwise, the consequences that the board will look to that person to play this role, and… it’s not fair to the rest of the board… and I think a mix of personalities is really important.” -Barry Rowan

Show Notes

[1:11] – Tommy gives us some background info on today’s guest, Barry Rowan.

[2:37] – Barry goes into more detail about his board experience.

[3:28] – Barry reflects on his very first board experience.

[4:57] – Learn what Barry’s main motivation is.

[7:09] – Barry touches upon the pros and cons of how boards are composed.

[9:25] – Discover what the best practices are for appointing people to a board.

[11:24] – Barry explains why everyone on a board needs to be objective.

[12:47] – Barry offers his perspective on the key responsibilities of a nonprofit board.

[14:09] – Barry argues that onboarding needs to be very intentional.

[15:42] – What is the most important thing that a board can do for a new C.E.O.?

[17:23] – Barry weighs the pros and cons of term limits.

[20:07] – What tools does Barry recommend for board effectiveness evaluation?

[22:32] – Barry encourages us to be mindful of the board culture.

“I think the best practice is a combination of new people with fresh ideas and new energy in combination with seasoned board members who are still committed, so I think it’s important… not to have board members who have served beyond their time, as it were.” -Barry Rowan

Links and Resources

JobfitMatters – Website

JobfitMatters – Podcast

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