I joined hundreds of leaders from the nonprofit sector at the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network 2014 annual conference on October 29. The capacity crowd participated in interactive idea labs and leading-edge workshops led by bright, instructive leaders in the sector who presented sessions on emerging practices, innovations, and tools to help nonprofit leaders and their organizations succeed
A highlight of the day was the presentation of the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award to Beth Smith, who has served as Executive Director of The Hyams Foundation since 1990. Beth is a truly respected leader in the nonprofit sector and in philanthropy – she is a former AGM board chair – and is known for her commitment to diversity and inclusion as well as her innovative approaches and willingness to take risks.
Beth shared insights as a reflection on her work, summarized in six key principles:
1). Nothing will change unless we stay with an issue over a long period of time.
2). Understand and address what is causing the problem versus the symptoms.
3). Humility is critical. No one has all the answers.
4). Empathy is essential and critical for us to be able to understand the issues. We may not be able to walk in their shoes, but we want to be able to walk closely alongside.
5). Honesty – which also a value closely connected with accessibility. You cannot interact if you are not in the room.
6). Each of us has one lifetime to give. Make the most of it and feel a sense of urgency.
Beth also invoked collaboration as a critical component to success, emphasizing the importance of deeply shared common goals, remaining open, building trusting relationships, effective communications, patience, humor and a willingness to let others take credit.
Thank you, Beth, for your leadership in philanthropy and service to the nonprofit sector.
- Jeff Poulos, Executive Director, AGM