Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Minneapolis School Board weighs new superintendent decision





This MPR radio clip exemplifies the importance of PNLC Blogger Mallory Mitchell’s previous post about the tell-all job interview question: “Can you tell me about your Board?”

The Minneapolis School Board is currently seeking a new District Superintendent, and the search has been fraught with challenges. In his letter to withdraw his candidacy, the interim Superintendent Goar stated plainly that the School Board was increasingly “divided and fragmented”. The former Minnesota Mayor R.T. Rybak echoed these exact sentiments this week. A Superintendent is the head of the Board and also carries out its policies; a functional working relationship requires mutual trust.
It is possible that Superintendent candidates are asking the exact question that Mitchell suggested, “Can you tell me about your Board?” and are seeking other job opportunities, instead.

On an organizational level, a volunteer Board will certainly face challenges carrying out the HR functions of a new hire process. As a Minneapolis resident myself who takes pride in our city, I am grateful for the service of the Minneapolis Public School Board. I also believe we must take the challenge of a divided School Board seriously, and as a community be active participants in the search and input for a new Superintendent.

By: Lauren Walker

Lauren Walker is a first year MPP candidate at the Humphrey School studying Global Policy. Her previous work experience was as a Regional Organizer for International Justice Mission. In her career, she aims to increase communication between practitioners and policymakers, to garner wider support for programs that work.



Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Tell-All Interview Question You've Never Asked

The end of every job interview reaches the dreaded question, “Do you have any questions for me?” Of course, as the interviewee, nothing you really want to know can be answered at this point. (Are you going to hire me? Will this pay enough to cover my student loans?) So you ask simpler questions about the hiring timeline, how the interviewer joined the organization, etc.

But, there’s a much more important question that should be asked in a nonprofit job interview: “How would you describe your organization’s relationship with the board?” The answer to this question tells me everything I need to know, and answers a few other questions along the way.

Can the board members become professional contacts in the future?  In an ideal world, some of these board members are already in your network. If not, it may be important to you that there exists an opportunity to actually meet and interact with board members. Members of the board are ideally selected for their social capital, and personal connection to the organization’s cause. These are exactly the type of people who can plug you into other key individuals in your field to learn from and with.

How will the board members affect the quality of my work? While an active board is every nonprofit’s dream, it should not be an obstacle for staff members to overcome. Members who are involved in the day-to-day work have the potential to blur the lines between strategic guidance and strategy implementation. On the other hand, members who are largely inactive can create an obstacle by withholding the strategic guidance necessary to effectively do the work.

Is the board contributing to the organization’s sustainability? After asking about the board in a recent interview, the answer I received made it evident that the board was slowly, but surely, deteriorating. If this had been going on for months and continued in the same way, I did not want to be picking up the pieces while trying to fulfill the duties of my position.


For people like me (aka entry-level job seekers in the nonprofit sector), we spend every job interview worried about making the organization see how well we fit their culture and needs. However, we should view interviews as an opportunity to judge the reverse - how well the organization suits our needs and if it offers our ideal work environment. The beauty of the tell-all question is its ability to answer these questions in a matter of minutes.

By: Mallory Mitchell
Mallory is a second-year Master of Public Policy student concentrating in nonprofit management. Originally from Alabama, she hopes to pursue a career in nonprofit development here in the Twin Cities.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A Year in Review, 2015

In its 12 years of existence the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center has racked up a lot of accomplishments. Just this year, two center faculty were promoted, a new deputy director hired, numerous articles and books published, and successful programs expanded and completed. Some highlights:

  • Jodi Sandfort was promoted to professor, and Kathy Quick received tenure and was promoted to associate professor.
  • Nonprofit expert and Humphrey alum Stephanie Jacobs was hired as deputy PNLC director
  • The Local Government Innovation  Awards and Minnesota Senior Leadership Institute, overseen by Jay Kiedrowski were a hit once again.
  • The Master of Public Affairs cohort program achieved a record enrollment under the direction of Kevin Gerdes.
  • Jodi Sandfort published Effective Implementation in Practice:  Integrating Public Policy and Management, co-authored with Stephanie Moulton.
  • John Bryson, Barbara Crosby and Laura Bloomberg published Creating Public Value in Practice and Public Value and Public Administration.
  • John Bryson, Barbara Crosby and Melissa Stone published an invited article “Designing and Implementing Cross-Sector Collaborations: Needed and Challenging” in Public Administration Review.


Many projects are on the 2016 horizon!

Barbara Crosby, Associate ProfessorBarbara C. Crosby is associate professor at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs and former academic co-director of the Center for Integrative Leadership at the University of Minnesota. She has taught and written extensively about leadership and public policy, integrative leadership, cross-sector collaboration, women in leadership, media and public policy, and strategic planning. She is the author of Leadership for Global Citizenship (1999) and co-author with John M. Bryson of (Leadership for the Common Good: Tackling Public Problems in a Shared-Power World 2d. ed. 2005).