Nonprofit organizations are only as strong as their boards. Marlboro College is committed to the growth and development of nonprofit boards and their members. These programs combine to provide skills development and networking opportunities for trustees serving nonprofits of all sizes, while also helping young professionals begin their work as the next generation of nonprofit board members. 

“I learned that boards have a real purpose…board membership is a serious responsibility and provides a chance to contribute meaningful to the organization and the community at large.”

– 2015 Board Leadership Participant

Board Leadership Institute

The Board Leadership Institute is a collection of workshops that, taken together, introduce board members to the most important knowledge and skills for successful board service. We frequently hear from boards who want help transforming their organizational culture, or that need assistance being effective leaders and champions for the nonprofits they serve.

Get On Board Fellows Program

"Having learned the structures and functions of a nonprofit board, it's easier to follow the budgets, agendas, and conversations happening at my first board meetings." –a 2015 Fellow 

Southern Vermont and New Hampshire have a lot of nonprofits and many boards are looking for new members. Get On Board gives residents of this area, age 22-44, the opportunity to build leadership skills and their personal and professional network while serving their community. Fellows attend the Board Leadership Institute workshops and Personal Leadership Development sessions for $100-200, sliding scale, which is less than half the full cost. Through these events, Fellows will build relationships with each other, and with members of local nonprofit boards.

Upcoming Board Leadership Trainings

Coming soon...

Common Good VT & Center for New Leadership will be announcing a new slate of Board trainings later this fall 



David Grant • Board Leadership Institute, Core CNL Consultant, Nonprofit Management Certificate

  • Work: Principal, Grant Associates
  • Education: A.B. in English, Princeton University; M.A. in American Studies, University of Michigan.

David Grant is the former president and CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation in Morristown, New Jersey. Earlier in his career, he and his wife Nancy co-founded and co-directed The Mountain School in Vershire Vermont, a semester-long interdisciplinary environmental studies program for high school juniors. A life-long teacher and performer, David has taken his one-man show as Mark Twain around the world.

David is the author of The Social Profit Handbook: The Essential Guide to Setting Goals, Assessing Outcomes, and Achieving Success for Mission-Driven Organizations (2015), published by Chelsea Green.

Joe Heslin • Board Leadership Institute, Core CNL Consultant, Nonprofit Management Certificate

  • Work: Principal, Joe Heslin Strategies; Communication Strategist, New Ground Creative
  • Education: MS in Management, Marlboro College; BS in Sociology, James Madison University

Joe works with organizations and social entrepreneurs to build and extend their mission, values and vision. The created messaging is always grounded in the three keys: engaging, dynamic and true. "Engaging" meaning that it's based in a compelling narrative that helps the audience create logic and emotion around the organization's message. "Dynamic" meaning that the messaging should move the audience toward specific actions and understandings. "True" meaning that people are looking for honesty and transparency in their organizational interactions. Most of his work is in education and nonprofits and, prior to his current work, he was the director of graduate admissions at Marlboro College where he built this authentic messaging approach. Joe is not nearly as self-aggrandizing as this bio might lead you to believe.

Greg Hessel • Board Leadership Institute, Core CNL Consultant, Nonprofit Management Certificate

  • Work: Organizational consulting as Principal of ReGeneration Resources
  • Education: Master’s in Organizational Development, American University; Certificate in Mediation, Woodbury College, BS, St. John’s University (MN)

Greg Hessel is a trainer, facilitator, and consultant who works with clients throughout New England. The essence of Greg’s work is helping people, teams, and organizations to get unstuck, and then working with them to keep them from getting stuck as they move forward. Greg’s clients tend to come from the public and nonprofit sectors, and his work with them includes leading change initiatives, managing conflict, building teams, soft skills trainings, facilitating strategic planning, redesigning structures, and improving communication.

Greg directed Cheshire Mediation in Keene, New Hampshire, for 10 years before founding ReGeneration Resources in 2007. Prior to working for Cheshire Mediation, Greg spent time working in Bosnia, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, and while in Nicaragua he was part of a team that successfully negotiated the release of a kidnapped member of the Italian clergy.

Kate McGowan • Management, Board Leadership Institute, Core CNL Consultant, Nonprofit Management Certificate, Results-Based Accountability

  • Work: Executive Director, United Way of Addison County
  • Education: BS - Economics, Emphasis Accounting, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Certifications: Mediation and Conflict Resolution, Woodbury College; RBA Training Deitre Epps, Williston VT, January 2014; RBA Training with Mark Friedman, Williston VT, February 2013

Kate is a former CPA with almost 25 years of working in different capacities with nonprofit organizations. She has worked with Price Waterhouse as an auditor in Los Angeles and Century City, CA. Thereafter, she was self-employed, primarily focusing on minority/women-owned businesses and nonprofit organizations for 10 years. Kate moved to Vermont and was the Executive Director of the Addison County Humane Society for several years and CoDirector of United Way of Addison County for seven years, before becoming Executive Director. She has served on various boards including the Vergennes Opera House, Lincoln School Board, Weather Vane United (senior housing in Lincoln) and the Vermont Humane Federation. Kate currently serves on the United Way Worldwides’ National Professional Council (NPC) and United Ways of Vermont and Addison County Chamber of Commerce boards.

During the span of Kate’s career, two recurring themes have been ever present:

1. Conflict: After years of avoiding, managing or containing conflict, Kate pursued professional development skills around the subject by attending a year-long mediation and conflict management certification program in 2001. She is most interested in conflict management in nonprofits and during end of life transitions. Kate has had the most practice mediating at home with her three sons, and in United Way of Addison’s County long process of changing from a traditional United Way to one focused on community impact.

2. Nonprofits and For-profits have more in common than not and should be learning from each other: There is a lot to learn from each other; whether it is a nonprofit developing necessary skills to effectively manage a strategic organization, or a forprofit’s understanding of its potential impact in a community.

Andy Robinson • Board Leadership Institute, Core CNL Consultant, Nonprofit Management Certificate, TFC Certificate

Andy provides training and consulting for nonprofits in fundraising, grant-seeking, board development, marketing earned income, planning, leadership development, and facilitation. Andy has worked with organizations in 47 US states and Canada. He specializes in the needs of groups working for human rights, social justice, environmental conservation, historic preservation, and community development.

Andy is the author of several books. His most recent, Train Your Board (and Everyone Else) to Raise Money, contains easy-to-use fundraising exercises. He is also the author of How to Raise $500 to $5000 From Almost Anyone, Selling Social Change (Without Selling Out)The Board Member's Easier Than You Think Guide to Nonprofit Finances, Grassroots Grants, and Great Boards for Small Groups, all helpful guides for nonprofit organizations. Andy is also a frequent contributor to Grassroots Fundraising Journal, a publication focused on the connection between fundraising, social justice and movement-building.

When he’s not on the road, Andy lives in Plainfield, Vermont with his spouse, a woodlot filled with wildlife, and a garden that is completely out of control.

Claire Wheeler • Management, Results-Based Accountability, Board Leadership Institute, Core CNL Consultant

  • Work: Principal, Rework
  • Education:MBA in Managing for Sustainability, Marlboro College; BA in Government, Smith College
  • Certification: RBA Training of Trainers, 2014; Rockwood Art of Leadership; Center for Whole Communities, Whole Thinking Retreat 

Claire Wheeler is a specialist in strategic design and stewardship for nonprofits, community-based businesses, and individuals. Her passion is to translate the creative genius of people into the systems and structures that make meaning and dismantle stress at work.

Before starting Rework, Claire worked for 10 years as a program director and administrator in the environmental non-profit sector. She has also earned her keep by knocking on doors, harvesting vegetables, and selling kites. Claire lives in Montpelier, Vermont. She finds power in prose and splendor in spreadsheets.