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Delaware Nonprofits: Endless Discoveries
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DANA's new President and CEO Sheila Bravo reflects on her discovery of DANA and the nonprofit sector in Delaware.


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Boards of Directors: Best Practices

Posted By Sheila Bravo, Wednesday, September 9, 2015

This week the DANA Board of Directors held its quarterly board meeting.  It is clear the board members are very committed to DANA and its mission. They are comprised of community, foundation, business, and nonprofit leaders who care about the nonprofit sector. Their diverse backgrounds bring a wealth of experience and perspective to determine the vision and strategy for DANA. Many of them serve on other boards, and take their board responsibility very seriously.

Having the right board members is a crucial element in having a great organization. As Jim Collins states in his ‘Good to Great’ book, “First get the right people on the bus.” This is especially true with the volunteers who comprise a nonprofit’s board. It starts with assessing the current board and evaluating its recruiting and orientation processes. Has your board reviewed its current composition? If so, are they the right people to move the organization forward? Do they understand their legal and fiduciary responsibilities? Are they actively participating in providing oversight and the resources for your nonprofit organization to remain sustainable and deliver its mission into the future?

Did you know: DANA offers a Board Assessment Tool which helps nonprofit boards evaluate the strengths of their governance practices. This is a great benchmark to identify current strengths and opportunities for growth of your board. To learn more, contact Paul Stock at

There are many resources available to nonprofit leaders and board chairs regarding best practices for board member recruitment, orientation, and outlining expectations for engagement. A quick google search will pull up a few white papers as well as academic studies. As an added benefit, DANA members can access best practice models through the Standards for Excellence® education packets that I mentioned in my last blog. DANA also provides training for board members, including customized governance consulting. As your organization begins planning for 2016, consider evaluating your board’s practices and discuss as a team how to move those good practices to great practices. Your organization will benefit from the results!


Tags:  Board Member  Board of Directors  Good to Great  Jim Collins  nonprofits  Standards for Excellence 

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Discover Delaware Nonprofits With Me

Posted By Sheila Bravo, Wednesday, September 2, 2015

This week is my first as President and CEO of DANA. When it was announced I would be taking this position, some people asked ‘what is DANA’ or ‘what do they do’? When I came into the office on Monday, I realized that many of those questions could be answered by sharing what I’m learning during my orientation. So, Iam excited to pass along some of the insights I learn as I listen to the staff, board, partners, and leaders that make the nonprofit sector so vibrant. In an effort to capture the essence of Delaware’s slogan "Endless Discoveries,” I invite you to discover Delaware’s nonprofits through my eyes as DANA’s new CEO. My discovery of DANA and the nonprofit sector can also be yours through this blog.

First and foremost, let me tell you about the staff of DANA. I’ve met with each of them to learn what they do and how they support the mission of DANA. They work so hard to support the nonprofits that engage with DANA through membership, advocacy, consulting and training. I was so impressed with their depth of knowledge, and really appreciated how they are willing to do what it takes to get the job done.

John Baker – Executive Vice President of Policy and Programs

John has an amazing understanding of the who’s who and the ‘how it is done’. His recent work advocating for funding for nonprofits in the 2015 State budget process really paid off when there were no cuts to Grant-in-Aid funding. But John is not one to stand still. He knows that next year will be challenging for Delaware public officials with the budget forecasts, so he is already working with key sector leaders to identify solutions. You’ll learn more about this in the coming months!

Paul Stock – Executive Vice President of Consulting

Factoid about DANA membership: Today I learned that member organizations can get handy best practice education packets on a variety of Standards of Excellence topics. Need a template for a policy or a sample board member commitment statement? Contact John Baker and he can send you FREE information from the Standards for Excellence program.
Paul joined DANA a little over a year ago to strengthen DANA’s consulting practice. He has engaged several super-talented consultants with tremendous expertise in strategic planning, board governance, collaboration, marketing, and fundraising to help Delaware nonprofits solve their unique challenges. His leadership in coalescing the sector ideas of 100 nonprofit leaders gathered at the June Jim Collins conference will help shape our dialog regarding future DANA initiatives.

Kristin Davis – Vice President of Communications and Marketing

Kristin is the voice of DANA and works to connect DANA to its members and the community through social media, the DANA website, and emails. Did you know that Kristin was recently named to the DBT40 Class of 2015 (young professionals, all under the age of 40, making a difference with their intelligence, initiative, and innovation)? She is also a fellow in the Leadership Delaware Class of 2015. Kristin is a great team member who continues to develop so she can help advance the sector.

Kathryn Soja Johnson – Program and Event Manager

Kate just joined the DANA team on Monday, as well. She took on Caitlin Giles-McCormick’s role to support DANA’s wide variety of programming, and will be a friendly voice for our members connect with as they join. In the weeks and months ahead, many members will hear from Kate on how DANA can provide the support they need to become more efficient and effective.

Nicole Wandersee – Administrative Assistant

Nicki also recently joined DANA after Andye Daley’s departure. She is the first voice you hear when you call the office. Nicki is helping to keep the DANA team and its board organized. She has already been a tremendous help to me.

Tags:  CEO  DANA  Delaware  Endless Discoveries  membership  nonprofits  President 

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