The White House and a coalition of nonprofits plan to start a new effort to improve the quality and diversity of nonprofit leaders following a daylong program in Washington yesterday.
The Initiative for Nonprofit Talent and Leadership will be led by Independent Sector in collaboration with the White House. Also among the sponsors are American Express, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Aspen Institute Program on Philanthropy and Social Innovation, the Center for Creative Leadership, Commongood Careers, and Public Allies.
At Tuesday’s event, more than 200 nonprofit leaders set loose goals for promoting diversity, developing talent, equipping leaders to face tough challenges, and spurring governments and private donors to spend more on leadership training.
The White House also used the opportunity to reiterate President Obama’s support for nonprofits. The administration has faced some criticism from nonprofit leaders in recent months for suggesting that new limits be placed on the amount wealthy donors can write off in charitable gifts.
“President Obama understands the unprecedented challenges that you guys face, and he’s just tremendously proud of the way that the not-for-profit sector has responded to these extremely tough times,” Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Obama, told the crowd. “In these challenging times, our country needs you more than ever.”
Ms. Jarrett also told the crowd what she though leadership meant.
“You can be brilliant, work hard, master the most complex subject matter, and form compelling opinions,” she said. “But if you can’t motivate people to work together towards a common goal, then you are simply an expert and not a leader.”
A followup meeting will be held in May to assess progress on early efforts and set a long-term strategy, said officials of Independent Sector.