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

“The understanding that the trustees had was that our role was that of governance and the role of the executive side was the leadership of the administration of the ministry. [This was] so that we could all reach the purpose we were all in alignment for.” -Rudy Hernandez

A few weeks ago, my guest was David Simms, the Founder and CEO of Talanton.  You may remember David from the episode What the Harvard Business School DID NOT teach David Simms about Nonprofit Leadership.  

In a follow-up conversation, I was telling David about some of my future guests and the topics we would be discussing.  It was during that call that David suggested I have a series of episodes where I have a president of a nonprofit and a chairman of the board together discussing their working relationship.

Today is the first of what I hope will be several episodes using this format.

Our guests today are Alec Hill and Rudy Hernandez.  Alec was the President of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship from 2001 to 2015.  Rudy was the Board Chair from July 2013 to June 2015 and he also served as the Vice-Chair for four years prior to that.

I hope you enjoy Part 1 of my conversation with Alec and Rudy.  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.


“I think one of the things we tried to do was avoid ‘show and tell’ which is a mistake a lot of administrations make.” -Alec Hill

Show Notes

[1:37] – Tommy introduces us to our topic and our guests, Alec Hill and Rudy Hernandez.

[2:40] – Tommy shares his first experience getting to know Alec during the hiring process for President of InterVarsity.

[3:41] – Alec shares his side of the story getting to know Tommy.

[5:02] – Alec sets the context for his transition to InterVarsity.

[7:15] – Rudy reveals how he came to be on the board at InterVarsity.  

[10:06] – As a former President, Alec talks about what he believes makes a successful relationship between a President and a Chairman of the Board.

[12:18] – Rudy gives his take on successful relationships from the Board’s perspective. 

[14:30] – How Alec and Rudy avoided “show and tell.”

[17:07] – Rudy addresses a quote from Jeff De Cagna regarding clear expectations. 

[19:20] – Alec discusses building relationships between presidents and board members outside of board calls. 

[20:45] – Rudy adds how Alec responded to his annual appraisals.

[23:07] –  The first month on the job, according to Alec.

[23:41] – Did the annual report at InterVarsity stay static or did it grow over time?

“When you come to the board meeting, the expectation is that you will have read the board book before you board the plane.” -Rudy Hernandez

Links and Resources

JobfitMatters – Website

Episode 13 – What the Harvard Business School DID NOT teach David Simms about Nonprofit Leadership

“Let’s Work Together” – The Sweet Sounds of a Board-CEO Partnership by Melanie Lockwood Herman and Erin Gloeckner

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