What it Takes to Have a Strong CEO – Board Chair Working Relationship – Part 2


“The board policy manual was really able to provide an environment where things that might have otherwise become issues didn’t become issues.  They’d already been addressed, they were already there, we’d already made decisions.” -Rudy Hernandez

Last week, we started a series of podcasts focusing on the relationship between the CEO of a nonprofit and his/her board chair.  

Today’s episode is a continuation of the conversation that I had last week with Alec Hill and Rudy Hernandez.  We go in-depth on the topic of the board policy manual, how InterVarsity managed through tough times, and the value of indifference.

Alec served as the President of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship for over fifteen years and Rudy was his Board Chair during the last two years of his administration.

I appreciate the candor of these two men.  There will be times when there is disagreement between the CEO, the board, and the board chair.  I hope this conversation sheds some light on how to handle and work through these disagreements. 

Be sure to listen to Part 1 of this conversation with Alec and Rudy, and I hope you enjoy Part 2.  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.

“At a certain point as an executive, if the board says something you can either salute or leave.” -Alec Hill

Show Notes

[1:14] – We continue our conversation with Alec Hill and Rudy Hernandez, President and Board Chair of InterVarsity respectively.

[1:50] – Did Rudy and Alec work together to plan board meetings?

[4:38] – Rudy and Alec address whether board meetings were all business or if they made time for fellowship. 

[6:49] – How did the board policy manual for InterVarsity come to pass?

[7:49] – Rudy’s first impression of the board policy manual.

[9:15] – Alec explains how his cancer diagnosis, although sudden, didn’t affect the preparedness of the board to find an interim president quickly. 

[11:55] – Alec’s least favorite policy.   

[13:34] – What was learned during the tough times at InterVarsity?

[15:10] – Rudy recalls a board meeting when the issue of faith in leadership came up.

[17:40] – We learn that the students took it upon themselves to continue meeting even though InterVarsity was on probation. 

[19:15] – Rudy recaps for us the decision not to comply with the Cal State University System and what came of that decision.  

[19:55] – We hear about how the administration and the board handled not being in parallel with each other.

[21:45] – Rudy reviews how indifference can make a successful board and CEO pairing.

[24:04] – Alec provides an illustration of how indifference applies to succession. 

[25:57] – Alec gives advice for first-time CEOs regarding working with the board and the board chair.

[27:48] – Rudy gives advice for first-time board chairs. 

[30:29] – Tommy concludes the conversation.   

“One can be very indifferent and yet be deeply passionate.  The indifference means being detached from things and people and titles that might cause differences within the organization.” -Rudy Hernandez

Links and Resources

JobfitMatters – Website

The New York Times and Campus Culture


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