Home Concepts Concepts of Leadership Community Engagement Senior Sage Leadership: Interview with Norman Westmore

Senior Sage Leadership: Interview with Norman Westmore

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Third, as you think back over your involvement in the organization, what roadblocks have been most challenging?

A major roadblock came up as we were forming the CNL Founding Board. Some individuals on the earlier Leadership Team (before there was a CNL Board) were not right for the founding board and needed to exit. So we had to work through each of these delicate decisions. The challenge was to be careful in encouraging a person to leave, while preserving their good feelings about CNL. I was able to accomplish this, and those who left formal leadership within the organization found they could better serve CNL in a capacity other than being on the board.

I want to discuss another roadblock I have experienced, and it is with an organization other than CNL. I am on the board of one of our community’s major performing arts organizations, and its board of directors is huge (27 members). I have found that getting many board members to work together is difficult, if not impossible. They are good-hearted people, but the board is too big and unwieldy This has been complicated by the fact that difficult economic times have made it necessary to cut-back on staff, which has resulted in important things not getting done. In addition, the organization has needed a strategic marketing plan, but the board saw little value in having one. With some urging, the decision was finally made to find an external person who had the right marketing skills. I found that person, we hired her, and she is doing an outstanding job. Unfortunately, with the staff cutbacks the executive director was left to do the heavy lifting that has been needed to implement the new marketing plan. Now, with the resignation of the executive director, the entire burden for operating the organization has fallen onto the board. Many of the roadblocks encountered in this arts organization have been long-standing. The organization is now poised to undertake significant change, including the search for a new executive director.   Fourth, what experiences within the organization have given you the most meaning and satisfaction?

All of the various leadership roles I have been able to play within the Center for Nonprofit Leadership have given me enormous meaning and satisfaction.

10. I want to ask you three additional questions about your civic life:

First, what motivates or inspires you to engage in community activities and causes?

I became involved in giving back to a community most actively after I retired from my telephone company career. I was moved to help families in need of decent housing, so the very first organization I worked with and helped was Habitat for Humanity in the San Francisco Bay Area. Working side-by-side helping people to improve their lives, give them hope, provide them a home, and watch them being industrious was very motivating and fulfilling for me. Teaching these families how to be responsible made it clear that I could make a difference when my wife and I moved here to Nevada City, so that is what I have done.

Part of my motivation to give back to my community is that I have been very, very blessed in my life. As a youngster I didn’t have a lot of money but wasn’t poor either. I was loved and learned about the value of hard work on our farm, and that created the basis for my values. I was also very blessed to have worked all of those years with Pac-Bell and to have risen fairly high in that business. I learned a lot there and became financially sound, so I was able to retire early. I quickly discovered that I didn’t just want to just sit around and do nothing. This led me to look at ways I could give back to the community, and I have found great meaning in having done that.

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