Dr. Sandra Gray – What is the Ideal Size of a Nonprofit Board?

“I think every board has to leave room for adaptation to their own personalities and dynamics.” -Dr. Sandra Gray

Our episode today is a continuation of an earlier conversation that I had with Dr. Sandra Gray.  Our regular listeners will remember Dr. Gray from the September 3rd conversation entitled Trial By Fire – The Story of One University President – Leading Through The 2007-2008 Global Financial Crisis.  If you haven’t listened to that episode yet, I encourage you to do so.

In addition to her success as President of Asbury University, Dr. Gray has extensive insight into governing boards.  Over her career, she served on two private sector boards and at least three nonprofit boards. She did this while additionally reporting to the board of trustees as Asbury.

In our conversation today, Dr. Gray tells us about her experiences with nonprofit boards, the relationship between board chairs and presidents, and the importance of risk in the role of the president.

I hope that her wisdom continues to be helpful to our listeners! Don’t forget to hit the subscribe button so that you never miss an episode of Next Gen Nonprofit Leadership, and I also encourage you to share the podcast with a friend who would also be likely to get something out of it!

Join me now as we catch the second half of my conversation with Dr. Sandra Gray.

“Where we think we’re the safest could be the point we’re at the greatest risk.” -Dr. Sandra Gray

Show Notes

[2:18] – Dr. Sandra Gray tells us about her first board experience.

[3:51] – Dr. Gray shares what she learned from the utility board that was transferable.

[5:37] – How the Carver Model applied to the Asbury board, in Dr. Gray’s experience.

[7:18] – Dr. Gray discusses her perspective on term limits and using a matrix to populate boards.  

[8:19] – What is the ideal size of a nonprofit board?

[11:01] – We learn about Dr. Sandra Gray’s mentor who she identifies is a real guru of board governance.

[12:17] – Dr. Gray responds to a quote from Peter Drucker.

[14:00] – How often did Dr. Gray communicate with her board chair?

[15:15] – Tommy reads a quote about the relationship between CEOs and Board Chairs.

[16:26] – The role of the designated antagonist on the board, according to Dr. Gray.

[18:31] – Dr. Sandra reveals what she thought about the Enron scandal in 2001.

[20:59] – One of the challenges faith-based organizations face, in Dr. Sandra’s opinion.   

[22:22] – Dr. Sandra Gray answers the question “What is the best thing a board can do for a new president?” 

[24:21] – How does risk factor into the role of a president?

“The president has to know which battles to fight and which to let go, [and] the board has to give them space to be creative.” -Dr. Sandra Gray

Links and Resources

JobfitMatters – Website

Trial By Fire – The Story of One University President – Leading Through The 2007-2008 Global Financial Crisis.  

The Policy Governance Model


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