Leadership and Sustainability
by Jacqueline Dailey
2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the Rural Alaska Community Action Program (RurAL CAP). During the past five decades, opportunities have been provided and lives have been changed for the better for many Alaskans because of community action. Programs like Head Start, weatherization, affordable housing, and job training have helped communities throughout Alaska.
RurAL CAP’s success during the past fifty years is due to our many leaders, strong partnerships and dedicated staff. We are grateful to local, tribal, municipal, regional and other organizations who work to build sustainable communities. Partnerships complement and strengthen, rather than duplicate available expertise and resources. Many of RurAL CAP’s partnerships are working for our communities and help ensure our programs are sustainable.
Gordon Jackson, a former RurAL CAP Board President who served for thirteen years reflected “RurAL CAP’s professional managers, strong Board of Directors, planning processes and focused commitment to rural Alaska have all contributed to the organization’s success and to a myriad of improvements made in the lives of the people of rural Alaska.”
Dennis McMillian, recent outgoing CEO of the Foraker Group, provided a few final thoughts in the June 10 Foraker Group Blog about leadership and sustainability of nonprofits including:
- Sustainability comes from clear focus of who you are as an organization and where you are going, the right people on the board and staff working in balance, emphasis on strategic alliances and partnerships to maximize impact, and ongoing attention to unrestricted revenue and reserves.
- Too many organizations confuse what they do with who they are. You can’t change who you are, but can and must change what you do.
- Nonprofit leaders must be literate in public policy. Even when a nonprofit has little government funding, all nonprofits should understand that their business model is based on public policy, so competence in supporting any model is required.
- Emotional intelligence is more important than cognitive intelligence. In the new world, understanding how others think is the most important skill of a leader.
- Baby boomers should understand that the old way is not necessarily the best way, and that change is okay. Millennials need their Elder’s advice, and Elders must stop fearing that the next generations are incompetent. They are competent—they are the future.
So, as we commemorate RurAL CAP’s 50th anniversary, we remain focused on fulfilling our vision of Healthy People, Sustainable Communities and Vibrant Cultures.
A heartfelt thank you to the Board of Directors, many partners, and staff who do the work of community action every day that improves the lives of Alaskans.