Judy Michaels1 starts each morning with a clear vision of the day’s agenda: making calls to bring in some new and much-needed dollars, having a “quick” conversation with a board member’s recent college-graduate niece asking for potential job options in the sector, persuading a funder to increase the foundation’s support for a key program, making another call to a funder on a renewal proposal due in two weeks, attending a management meeting to review program and budget priorities, calling the organization’s legal counsel on a potential discrimination lawsuit. For this executive director of a midsized multiservice nonprofit with a budget of $4.2 million and a staff of 105, it will be another long, challenging, and stressful day. Before she even gets to her desk, the day will be derailed by other priorities. At 8:00 a.m., she placates an irate neighbor whose car fell victim to debris left by a construction crew renovating the neighborhoood day care center. At 8:20, a dissatisfied client waylays her at the coffee shop with complaints about advice received from a staff person. At 8:35, she makes a mental note to speak to maintenance about increasing the cleaning staff’s shift time because the beautiful fall leaves have littered the building’s steps and become a liability. As she heads through the front door, she is treated to an angry rant from the membership coordinator who supervises a persistently late employee.
This week it’s urgent to get a permit to convert a recently acquired building into supportive housing for seniors. She will have to convince a city councilman to flex some muscles on her behalf, the foundation officer to approve f