CCA Conference to feature governance for community education board directors

The Community Colleges Australia (CCA) upcoming conference will feature a special governance and “how to” workshop for adult and community education (ACE) board chairs and directors.

The CCA Conference returns to an “in person” mode this September (13-14) in Sydney, the first time since 2019. The board chairs and directors workshop relates directly to the conference themes of “Rebuilding Community”,

On day two of the Conference (Wednesday, 14 September), there will be a 90 minute chairs/board directors only workshop led by Dr Allan Ellis, Chair of ACE Community Colleges (Lismore, Murwillumbah and Gold Coast). Allan’s interest is in optimising the performance of boards and management Committees that operate in the community sector. “Good governance is about creating the culture of the organisation, plotting its future (not minding the shop) and ensuring that the organisation complies with its legal and constitutional requirements,” he says.

View the latest Conference program and speaker line-up.

This workshop will:

  1. Assist the governance of ACE provider chairs and board directors, supporting them to operate strategically, to respond to new business challenges and to lead effectively;
  2. Review best practice of not-for-profit (NFP) community board leadership, including running effective meetings;
  3. Consider matters of concern facing ACE boards and management committees, such as CEO supervision, when or why to merge and how to succession plan; and
  4. Commence development of a network of CCA member and ACE organisation chairs and board directors to provide support, professional development and information sharing.

Workshop Leader

The workshop leader will be Dr Allan Ellis, currently chair of ACE Community College His last full-time position was at Southern Cross University, where he held the position of Associate Professor and Director of Research and Research Training in the School of Commerce and Management. Read more about Allan here.

Workshop chair will be Dr Don Perlgut, CEO & Company Secretary of Community Colleges Australia. Dr Perlgut has been the CEO of CCA since late 2015, and has been the CEO of three other NFP organisations, and on the board of NFP Mandelbaum House at the University of Sydney and the Chair of Aurora Community TV Channel. Read more about Don here.

The Importance and the Role of the NFP Chair

The Chair of a not-for-profit organisation “is uniquely placed to contribute to the strategic direction of an organisation that does important work…. The organisational buck always stops with the Chair. The Chair is the person who has to balance the difficult issues, manage strained relationships, monitor unsatisfactory performance, and put in place strategies to resolve complaints. These issues can be difficult to juggle… The Chair is one of the most important officers in any not-for-profit organisation. In short, the primary function of the Chair is to ensure that the board operates in a manner that is conducive to the achievement of the strategic outcomes and purposes of the organisation. This requires the Chair to play an active role in promoting a positive board culture… to communicate, both internally and externally, the culture and philosophy of the organisation,” and provide supervision to the Chief Executive Officer. (Source: JFMLaw.)

Not-for-Profit Governance Challenges in the “COVID Moment”

Governance and organisational resilience in the wake of the pandemic has been challenging for Australian not-for-profit organisations, including ACE providers. “The COVID-19 pandemic had an immediate and profound effect on the social sector. Funding and resources dried up, with 50% of charities reporting a loss of revenue and volunteer hours dropping by two-thirds. Many organisations had to make a sudden operational shift to a remote service delivery model…. Social purpose organisations were caught in a challenging dynamic, needing to deliver more services, in a fundamentally different way, with less financial support,” says Social Ventures Australia (SVA).

SVA notes that long-term structural challenges had already weakened the for-purpose sector, with most “already in a precarious financial position before the pandemic. Research in 2020 by SVA and the Centre for Social Impact (CSI) estimated that one in seven NFPs were at risk of becoming unviable due to the pandemic.

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