Board Fellows Programmes Part 2 – 5 questions for Becky Johns, MBA 2012 and coordinator of the programme at Leeds School of Business

(This blog is part 2 of a three part series looking Board Fellows Programmes. Click here to read part 1.)

 In part 1 of this 3 part series on Board Fellows Programmes we looked at a growing trend of placing MBA students as non-voting board members of not for profits and charities across the US. In part 2 we look at one particular programme and how Net Impact is promoting these programmes nationally and internationally.

Many Board Fellows Programmes across the US are student initiated and most of these are started by student members of the Net Impact club, an international network of students dedicated to sustainable business. A few years ago, Net Impact launched their Board Fellows Programme, providing support for local clubs in the form of guide books and dedicated conference calls. Boston University School of Management Board Fellows Programme, BU on Board, was started by their Net Impact club in 2010 and works with a range of non-profits, including Cambridge Childcare Resource Center, Aids Action Committee of Massachusetts and Medicine Wheel Production. Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado also recently started their programme, and I had the chance to speak with Becky Johns (MBA 2012) who is leading the programme.

1. How long has the Board Fellows Programme been going on at Leeds

Tyler Hammer and Emily Stanley, both MBA students, founded the Leeds Board Fellows Program during the spring of 2010. The first class of Fellows started in January 2011 and is just finishing their term this December.  We are finalising matches for the 2012 class this coming week.

2. How many students do you place each year?

We have 10 MBA students who completed the 2011 Leeds Board Fellows Program. Our goal for future years is not necessarily making more matches, but ensuring that we make quality matches between students and nonprofits.

3. Do you find it easy to get not-for-profits engaged in the programme?

We were fortunate enough to align ourselves with an organisation called the Nonprofit Cultivation Center, which was founded by a Leeds MBA alum, Amy Rosenblum, to support nonprofits in Boulder County. Our connection with Amy and the Nonprofit Cultivation Center lent legitimacy to our new program when we reached out to local organisations, so it has not been difficult to get nonprofit engagement.

4. Who manages the programme at Leeds?

The two individuals who started the program, Tyler and Emily, graduated this past May. I took over the program with another classmate this year, and we have three students from the class of 2013 preparing to take over for next year. The Program has two professor mentors and support from the Nonprofit Cultivation Center.

5. Any tips for other schools thinking of putting in place a similar programme?

The Leeds Board Fellows Program is a national programme that is part of Net Impact. For schools that already have a Net Impact chapter, setting up a board fellows program is relatively easy. Net Impact provides templates, national conference calls, general guidance and resources.

The Net Impact Board Fellows Programme Manual provides sample letters, application forms and other resources for Net Impact clubs interested in starting a programme on campus. Although board fellows are currently found primarily on US campuses, materials and support are available for interested international clubs.


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