Is Your Board on Board?

Laudholm logoWhen Laudholm Trust contacted Mersky, Jaffe & Associates, the executive director and the president realized that their board of directors needed a profound revitalization if they hoped to achieve the newly expanded goals and objectives for the organization. They questioned whether their board members understood the scope and importance of their role. They wondered, “Is our board ‘on board’?”

Referred to Mersky Jaffe & Associates by another of its clients (an enterprise with different programs but similar problems), the leadership of Laudholm Trust asked for help. They wanted to educate and motivate the board to embrace a full and active role in achieving Laudholm’s mission — to provide wise stewardship of estuaries and coastal watersheds. Formed in 1982 as a grassroots effort to protect an historic farm in Wells, Maine, the organization now, serving as a national model, the organization sees its larger mission as making available resources and services to support research, education, and management activities at The Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, increasing public awareness of coastal watersheds, and building community support for their protection. As Laudholm expanded the scope of its objectives, the executive director and president knew there needed to be a commensurate expansion in the commitment of its board of directors.

Mersky Jaffe & Associates developed a two-day board retreat held on the historic site. Board members worked together in small groups to come to terms with the various hats an effective board member must wear—fiduciary, donor, solicitor, ambassador and advocate. Led by principals of MJA, board members understood both the breadth and the importance of their commitment to Laudholm Trust and welcomed the challenge.

As a result of the board retreat and subsequent efforts to reinforce the board member’s investment, each member of the board makes generous gifts of time, talent, and treasure. Laudholm Trust is thriving and today offers seven miles of walking trails, five scenic overlooks, a quiet beach where endangered least terns and piping plovers nest as well as several magnificently restored historic farm buildings.