The following article about titled "Web of Connections", is written by an author who is having serious concerns about these housing groups, the amount of money they control and "transparency" and who does not raise a question about nonprofit governance that strikes me as more interesting. My question: just how many nonprofit boards can one person sit-on and be truly effective?
My own personal thinking is that service on one nonprofit board is pretty demanding. And yet I frequently encounter individuals who serve on multiple boards. I can't even figure out how they make it to all of the meetings let alone give their undivided attention to each board. And, what about raising money? Their social networks can only be so large and as it happens, most folks' social networks consist primarily of folks whose interests are similar. So wouldn't there be lot's of competing demands by this one multi-boarding board member?
For those of you who either know or actually are folks who sit on multiple boards I would welcome your writing and providing me with the secrets of how you do this addressing efficiency (the juggling) and effectiveness (the results).
Meanwhile, check-out the concerns highlighted by the following Birmingham, Alabama author.
Web of connections among non-profit housing boards and other entities
on May 21, 2015 at 8:45 AM
There's a web of connections among nonprofit housing boards and other entities in the Birmingham area, prompting one official to wonder about transparency in the operations of groups that control millions of federal dollars.
At least three people sit on multiple boards that provide only 14 seats altogether.
The boards and entities involved:
-- Navigate Affordable Housing Partners Inc., which manages more than $450 million in federal housing contracts;
-- Housing Affordability Trust, which oversees $30 million in donations received from Navigate;
-- Jefferson County Housing Authority (JCHA);
-- JCHA Housing and Development Corp.
Michael Davis, who serves on the JCHA board, is calling for limits on multiple memberships. It's an issue of "good governance," he said.
"How do we bring more checks and balances?" he said. "Going forward, we need to include more board members in these decisions and get more people involved and knowledgeable on why and how a decision was made."
Of particular interest to some is the Housing Affordability Trust (HAT). The trust's goals are to support, promote and advance housing opportunities for low-income families, mainly in the Jefferson County area, according to its tax filings.
The trust's origins are something of a mystery to local housing officials, although one said that it was established to protect housing assets from sewer creditors when Jefferson County filed for bankruptcy in 2011.
The $30 million from Navigate is held at Synovus Bank. However, Navigate has no say over how the money is spent although the trust's "advisory board" consists of members representing Navigate and the county Housing Authority.
Hugo Isom serves on both the Navigate Board and the trust's board. Meanwhile, Jane Bailey, a Housing Authority representative on the trust's board, also sits on the county's Housing and Development Board.
Spencer Ragland, a member of the Navigate board, is a senior vice-president at Synovus, but bank officials say he recuses himself whenever there is a discussion related to Navigate.
Navigate continues to supply funding to the trust. Eric Strong, CEO of Navigate, said the agency earns about $7 million annually in profit and places most of that into the trust to be invested and eventually doled out.
On Monday, Housing Authority board members said they can't recall any money being awarded recently to local groups. They planned to ask the trust for $2 million for more than a dozen programs including nutrition counseling; job training, transportation assistance and homeless meal vouchers, they said.
Navigate Advisory Board
Housing Affordability Trust Advisory Board
Jefferson County Housing Authority Board
JCHA Housing and Development Board
*Vaughan and Gore work for the county Housing Authority in the roles of executive director and director of finance, respectively.