Burt Rosen / Dan Hurst: Knox Area Rescue Ministries – The Effective CEO – Board Chair Working Relationship

“All too often, people end up on a board because they know somebody, and the next thing you know you have a board member on board that you really haven’t thoroughly vetted.” –Burt Rosen

My guests today are Burt Rosen, the CEO for Knox Area Rescue Ministries (KARM) in Knoxville, Tennessee, and his Board Chair, Dan Hurst.

Today’s episode is a continuation of several conversations that I plan to have with the CEO of a nonprofit and his or her Board Chair where we discuss how to build and maintain an effective CEO – Board Chair relationship.

We kicked off this series with a two-episode conversation with Alec Hill, former President of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and Rudy Hernandez, the Board Chair for Alec’s last two years being president. And like Alec and Rudy, Burt and Dan shared with us their perspective for what it takes to have a successful and effective working relationship between a CEO and a Board Chair.

I really appreciate that these two men took time out just before Thanksgiving to share their wealth of knowledge and experience with me.

I hope you enjoy my conversation with Dan and Burt. Thanks again for listening to Next Gen Nonprofit Leadership with Tommy Thomas and be sure to share this episode with the nonprofit board members you know.


“The most important function of the board is to choose the CEO wisely, then let them lead and support them in any way [the board] can.” –Dan Hurst

Show Notes

[1:50] – Burt Rosen and Dan Hurst share their plans for Thanksgiving 2021 with KARM.

[2:24] – Burt gives us a brief summary of what KARM was like in 2003 and compares it to what’s happening today.

[5:07] – Dan reveals how he got involved with KARM. 

[6:38] – The process for selecting the Board Chair, according to Dan.

[8:14] – We hear a story about a trip Burt took to a workshop in Dallas and the message he heard that still impacts him today. 

[9:17] – The size of the board at KARM today.

[11:40] – Does the board at KARM use the Carver Model for board governance? 

[14:21] – How Dan and Burt use executive sessions in their board model.

[15:30] – Burt talks about the process of onboarding new members to the board.

[17:17] – Dan discusses the matrix they use to determine the skills, talent, and backgrounds they need for board recruitment.

[18:56] – Truly knowing who the candidates for the board are is crucial to the board’s success.

[20:50] – KARM’s board policy manual. 

[21:40] – What is Burt’s position on discussing bad news with the board? 

[23:07] – The history of annual reviews at KARM, in Dan’s perspective.

[24:25] – What did Burt put in his self-evaluation?

[26:25] – Burt gives his advice for a first-time CEO working with a board and Board Chair. 

[28:20] – Dan gives his advice for a first-time Board Chair working with a CEO. 

[31:35] – Tommy wraps up the conversation.

“Even if it’s unpleasant news, I want people to hear it from me first.” –Burt Rosen

Links and Resources

JobfitMatters – Website

KARM – Website

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