69. The Culturally Conscious Board

Jennifer Jukanovich, a seasoned nonprofit leader with nearly three decades of experience discusses her forthcoming book, The Culturally Conscious Board: Setting the Boardroom Table for Impact, which explores the importance of board culture in achieving organizational success. The conversation addresses a number of important aspects of board governance, including board culture and the critical role of trust and humility.

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The Culturally Conscious Boards  – Amazon Book Pre-Order Link

Jennifer Jukanovich Bio – Our Story: Ambactus Global

Big Ideas/Thoughts/Quotes

  1. The Culturally Conscious Board
  • Two important concepts which are emphasized:
    • The significance of board culture and its impact on decision-making and governance, and the role of trust, humility, and hospitality in building an effective board culture.
  • Jennifer’s closing thoughts on the importance of strong board culture in the nonprofit sector.
  • Encouragement for boards to engage in deeper conversations and continuous improvement.
  • Introduction to the “board culture placemat” and its use in facilitating board discussion and b building a strong board culture.
  • Examples of successful practices for building and maintaining a healthy board culture.

“Boards are assets to our society, and our hope is that our book, The Culturally Conscious Board, will contribute to that conversation.”  Jennifer Jukanovich 

Book Reviews

“Sitting on a board is easy. But being a great board member is another matter entirely, especially if your organization needs change. Jukanovich and West show you how to do it with confidence and grace.”

Arthur C. Brooks, Professor, Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School, and #1 New York Times bestselling author


“‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast,’ Drucker said, and most boards don’t explore how their culture either detracts from or advances their mission. This work invites boards to move from habits and traditions that restrict their impact toward deeper examinations to make wise changes and meet the challenges of our day.”  

Robert C. Andringa, Managing Partner, The Andringa Group, and coauthor of Nonprofit Board Answer Book

  1. Challenges and Opportunities in Board Governance
    • The importance of diverse representation and an inclusive board culture.
  • Practical advice on improving board culture, including transparency, accountability, and feedback mechanisms.


  • Addressing issues such as long-term leadership and the balance between large boards and effective decision-making.

“Humility catalyzes greater trust, whether that is your family or that’s a board.” 

“Good governance creates health. Good boundaries create healthy culture.”


  1. The Critical Partnership between the CEO and the board chair
  • How the board chair can help ensure all voices are heard and foster a culture of openness and respect.


Joe: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to On Boards, a deep dive at what drives business success. I’m Joe Ayoub and I’m here with my co-ost, Raza Shaikh. Twice a month, On Boards is the place to learn about one of the most critically important aspects of any company or organization; its board of directors or advisors, with a focus on the important issues that are facing boards, company leadership, and stakeholders.

Raza: Joe and I speak with a wide range of guests and talk about what makes a board successful or unsuccessful, what it means to be an effective board member, and how to make your board one of the most valuable assets of your organization.

Joe: Our guest today is Jennifer Jukanovich. Jennifer brings nearly three decades of domestic and international nonprofit leadership and board experience to her role as managing partner of [00:01:00]Ambactus Global Solutions, which harnesses the power of connection to solve complex problems in governance, international development, and education through trust-based solutions.

Raza: Jennifer actively works with a diverse range of nonprofit clients, serves as a coach and faculty for the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, and is the co-investigator for the internationally-celebrated 2020 Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness Project. She is also an active board member and volunteered with several nonprofits.

Joe: And Jennifer is the co-author of a forthcoming book, The Culturally Conscious Board: Setting the Boardroom Table for Impact, which will be published on September 3rd of this year, 2024. Welcome, Jennifer. It’s great having you as our guest today.[00:02:00]

Jennifer: Thank you, Joe and Raza. I am delighted to be here, and honored. Thank you.

Joe: Thanks. Before we begin to talk about the book, I did want to mention one thing that I left out in your background is that you for a time were the vice president for student life at Gordon College, where you met with our friend, Alexander Lowry, our friend and former podcaster who introduced you to us, and I want to just give him a shout out. I’m sorry he’s not podcasting anymore, but thanks for the great introduction.

So, let’s start then with the book you’ve co-authored, The Culturally Conscious Board. First, congratulations. We’ll talk about it later, but I think it’s amazing that from inception to publication, it was something like a year, which kind of blows my mind because it takes us almost that long to get a few episodes out, and this is quite an endeavor. But let’s talk about how the book came into being. How did this start, where were you working, and how did it [00:03:00] evolve into a book?

Jennifer: Sure. Well, first again, thank you for having me. As you said, boards are assets to our society and our hope is that our book, The Culturally Conscious Board, will contribute to that conversation. I was working at Gordon College, and so I’m very grateful to have had the privilege of working with Alexander Lowry, and I left the college in 2019 and started a PhD in global leadership and change through Pepperdine University, and I also did some coaching through the Murdoch Trust, which I was aware of.

We lived in Seattle for many years and the Murdoch Trust has an incredible reputation in the Pacific Northwest in investing in the nonprofit sector, and so it is a real privilege for me to be serving as one of their board coaches. They have really seen the impact that boards make on nonprofits, and so while they of course are over a billion dollar foundation that invests in [00:04:00] the Northwest, they have seen that their best investment is building board capacity, and so I got involved with them.

And because I was doing coursework for Pepperdine University, and we had to develop a curriculum, I was recognizing that there was a gap in their training for boards and that it had to do with culture, and you all are familiar with the National Association for Corporate Directors and and they’ve even said that 30% of those they surveyed are seeing this as an increased need to focus on board culture.

So, while my initial training was originally around, “Okay, how can we build a more diverse board? How can we bring in more representation that reflects different voices,” I soon found that there’s so much depth to understanding board culture, and as we developed this training and I did it with my colleague, Russell West, who is a former dean at Asbury University and he’s also working in the international development sector, we realized [00:05:00] that as we were doing our training on board culture, we were getting such positive feedback because we were really trying to have a conversation around hospitality, actually, and how to build trust with people, and that was really resonating with boards who were on the spectrum, to be honest, from political persuasions to what they thought of DEI, and yet when we use language around hospitality, around trust, around humility, it was as if everyone could resonate and see themselves in the conversation.

So, the vice president for board leadership and development at Murdoch, Kimberly Thornberry, was like, “I think there’s a book in here. I feel like we need to get this message out to more organizations,” and thankfully, their former CEO, Steve Moore, and their new CEO, Romanita Hairston, really believed in it and so encouraged us along the way.

Then I happened to meet Neal Maillet from Berrett-Koehler [00:06:00] Publishers at the Academy of Management, where I was presenting on my dissertation, and to be honest, you guys, he said, “Board books don’t usually sell very well. I won’t lie

Joe: But write it anyway.

I know, but because we use a business fable, a story, he was really intrigued and he’s like, “Send me a proposal,” and so that was our fast track, I won’t lie. It was a very intense holiday season for me as Russell and I brought to life much of what we have been doing over the last three years.

So, I want to say the concept that board culture is so critical to an effective board has really come to the forefront of conversation, and as you mentioned, the most recent blue ribbon report by the NACD is called Culture as the Foundation: Building a High-Performance Board. I think it’s fantastic that there is so much focus on culture because at the end of the day, without strong [00:07:00] culture, boards cannot reach their full potential.

Now, one of the comments on the book was that mission-based, socially-responsible and transformational organizations are needed more today than ever. I think that’s true and I think it’s a great comment. Why do you think that is true?

Jennifer: Well, I believe that we’ve had periods of division in our country. We’ve had periods of polarization in our country, but we are definitely in a unique period of time, and those organizations that are serving at the grassroots level that are trying to contribute to the common good are even under more, more pressure, and yet we need them more. The CEO of Murdoch talks about how we need islands of sanctuary in our culture, and how the social transformation sector has a unique opportunity of being that because you are bringing together strangers from so many different walks of life when you come [00:08:00] together around a common mission, and what a unique opportunity that is to, I think, be that island of sanctuary in a time of such division.

Joe: I know you and your family spent time in Rwanda doing social impact work actually, and I’m wondering just to what extent that may have had an impact on your perspective.

Jennifer: We could have a whole other podcast just on that topic, but I think for me, what it drove home is that whether you are doing a social impact business or you’re involved in a nonprofit, it has to be about the one you’re serving because lives are at stake. Not every nonprofit, of course, has a life and death situation. There are those nonprofits that work in the arts and culture building, but there are many nonprofits that are serving the poorest of the poor, and if our decision making as a nonprofit is all about only at half capacity because our culture isn’t an asset. It’s actually becoming a liability in our decision making, then that one being [00:09:00] served is harmed.

So, whether it’s the Rwandan farmer who’s out planting Moringa seeds or the woman who’s sewing textile and trying to put five of her kids in school, I have those faces literally engraved in my mind. of some of the poorest of the poor that we’ve met and had the privilege of walking alongside and so these are not numbers or strangers to me, they are friends and I want to see their lives flourish.

Joe: The decision making that occurs for nonprofits or for-profits, how important is that in the success of an organization?

Jennifer: Well, boards, their one task is to make decisions. It’s to make decisions regarding policies that govern how an organization does something, and we laugh, like, of course, that’s what boards do, but how many times are our decisions done in at half capacity because of the way in which we make decisions or the way in which [00:10:00] we stifle voices that actually really need to be at the table?

If you’re making a decision about healthcare services in another country, but you’re not actually hearing from those voices in that country, that’s going to impact your on the ground work, and so that’s why we just believe that the decision making is so important.

Joe: Does the culture of a board play an important role in the board’s ability to make good decisions and to have a good decision making process?

Jennifer: Oh, absolutely. And I think we’ve even seen in this last week, so I came most recently from the higher education world so everything that’s going on this week on campuses around our country, I think are a very current example of how important board culture is, because if you are having to make a decision in crisis, in some ways, the decision making has already been done, like it’s very hard, you have to have a healthy culture that is very trustworthy, that’s [00:11:00] very transparent, that’s very accountable, and where your policies are really stewarding your mission, and so I think we’re seeing that even today how important board culture is to a decision.

And boards, they’re being put on the hot seat a lot more today, especially in light of social media than they were in the past, so that’s where I think having a healthy board culture is even more timely because your decisions are going to be analyzed in a very public way.

Joe: When you look at board culture, what are you looking at? How do you identify what a board’s culture is? What are the components that make up board culture?

Jennifer: Well, the culture is what you do and how you do it, and so there are the things that we talk about in the Culturally Conscious Board, we talk about the things that are on the table and then we talk about the things that are off the table. There are ways in which culture is lived out, whether it’s in your Robert’s Rules of Order, or it’s in your policies, [00:12:00] your agendas, your expectations of board members, those are all the artifacts of your organization, so those are things that speak to the culture, and then there are those things that are the way in which you actually do things or the way in which you actually make decisions,

Joe: One of the things we discussed when we talked recently was that a critical part of board culture is to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard. Talk a little bit about that. Why is it important? But how does a board culture encourage that and what do board members or board chairs do to make sure that’s really occurring?

Jennifer: It is so important. It’s important to have open conversations, and my friend Doug Crandall wrote this book, Permission to Speak Freely, like it’s important to have a culture in which everyone has permission to speak freely, and yet the challenge of the board is they have to speak with a unified voice. You can’t leave a board meeting and then have everyone disagree publicly. When a decision is made, it’s made.

So, what can a board chair do? I think it’s [00:13:00] important to have feedback loops, and I’ve seen people go around the room or having a survey at the end of their board meetings to ensure that voices were heard, because we’re all bringing our own cultures to the table as well, and especially as boards get more diversified, everyone wants to be diverse. But when someone speaks up whose voice maybe hasn’t been heard in the past, are we ready to receive that? And even in some cultures, authority structures are viewed in different ways, and so how does the board chair understand a new board member’s perspective who maybe has, in their culture, you would sit back and listen more than speak up, and so that requires a board chair to really know his or her members and taking the time to meet with them individually as well as corporately.

Joe: Yeah, it’s a great point. Actually, the board chair really does need to know the members of the board well enough to understand what it takes to get them to actually let their voice be heard. I mean, you’re right, at the end of the day, [00:14:00] once you vote, everyone has to leave the room with a unified voice, but until then there’s no point in having a board if every voice is not heard.

One of the things we talked about was that good things can happen outside the boardroom. So, one of the questions that’s come up a few times during this last few years is to what extent the proliferation of virtual board members impacts board culture. What are your thoughts about that?

Jennifer: I’m a huge believer in in-person as much as possible because there’s so much that is missed in body language and in gestures and so I am a huge believer in that, but virtual board meetings have also been very helpful to actually increasing attendance sometimes for people who cannot attend. Even myself as a mother with young children, I remember going to board meetings were always scheduled like at five o’clock. How am I supposed to get there and pick up my kids and so virtual meetings made [00:15:00] my attendance increase. But also they’re all those like little sidebar conversations that people do have that help build trust and that social capital that you need, and so there are positives and negatives.

I’ve seen in terms of how we say things get done versus how they really get done. We had a client whose executive committee was really running everything, and yet they said that they were serving at the pleasure of the board, but really it was the opposite way, like the way in which things really got done, and it wasn’t until someone had the courage to speak up and address that and show data to show how that was impacting the board that things changed, and so we have to be willing to have those hard conversations about how things really get done.

Joe: Well, I think part of what happens with an executive committee or executive board is that it’s a lot easier with five people to make decisions than it is with a large board, and [00:16:00] what I’ve observed is that especially on nonprofit boards, because they’re often, in fact, almost always fundraising boards, that they’re very large. And when boards are very large, it can be very frustrating and so the temptation, I’m not justifying it, is to let the executive committee do it because they can get it done.

In a way, it’s a shortcut. You have a big board because you need to raise the funds and then you’re ignoring a lot of board members to get the job done. I’m not sure what one does about that, but what can a board do about that? Because size is not always dictated by what’s optimal for decision making. Sometimes there are other aspects including fundraising. So, how do you balance getting the job done with a large board with still allowing voices to be heard?

Jennifer: Well, I do believe, as you said that many nonprofit boards are often too large and we’ve seen this in the world of higher education, especially because you’re [00:17:00] trying to, you do have to fundraise, and so I have found myself asking, how do we actually reduce board size to make it more effective so that there are those honest conversations because with 30 people around a hollow square, it’s very challenging to make sure all those voices are heard.

But are there ways in which we can use advisory councils? Are there ways in which we can use fundraising committees to actually build friends of the mission in such a way where that goal of fundraising is accomplished more effectively, if that really is your goal, or just being honest with why you’re really bringing people onto the board.

But personally, I have found those 20- to 30-member boards challenging from a very just practical way, so that has made me more of a believer in advisory boards, which are also a really great way to diversify and to bring in new voices that you haven’t heard before.

Raza: Jennifer, in your book, you have this metaphor [00:18:00] of setting the table, and you use this as a tool for conversations. Talk about what those conversations are and what is the setting the table paradigm or your coaching of the boards.

Jennifer: If you know me, which we’re getting to know one another, so that’s great, you would find out that hospitality is just a huge part of who I am and in its truest sense of welcoming the stranger. So, throughout my life, that has been a common theme. So, that metaphor of setting the table really comes from language of hospitality, and some might say, what does that have to do with the board?

But we all come to that metaphorical table, that boardroom table, and so in The Culturally Conscious Board, we are asking, can you claim your seat at the table? Is there a place for you to actually speak with authority to steward the mission that you’ve been given? And if not, then we need to examine why not.

We’re saying, “Come claim your [00:19:00] seat. Use your voice for this mission around which we’ve gathered”. Because that’s really what we’re talking about is this mission, and so we offer boards a chance to practice how they can move forward as stewards of the decision making tasks that they have around the table, and so we’ve done that in the format of what we call the board culture placemat.

Actually, if you go to CulturallyConsciousBoard.com, you will be able to download your very own placemat, which will really come to this conversation starters because that’s what happens around the table, and so it’s organized around a five-part logic model that we’ve developed and we move through five areas of identity, intention, invitation, investment, and impact, and we believe that as you move through these conversations, you’ll unpack some of your own board culture.

It’s not prescriptive. It’s not an evaluation. It’s more of an assessment of where you’re at, and [00:20:00]actually in the book, at the end of each chapter, we have even more questions that you can use during a board retreat to help you unpack and make mentionable many of the things in our culture that aren’t often mentionable. So, our hope is to help boards deepen their cultural capacity and take notice of the diversity of perspective that its members have in order to surface those in a safe way.

Raza: Yeah, that sounds like a really great conversational tool for boards to have. Once a board has a culture, you want to make it better, hopefully, if you saw things lacking. Maybe we can talk a little bit of some practical advice on improving or building board culture, maybe some examples of practices, things like improving trust or things that erode trust, how to get voices heard, so any practical advice and examples for improving board culture?

Jennifer: Yeah, so we are a [00:21:00] big believer in the role of trust being developed on boards and also coming in with a spirit of humility, actually, because humility catalyzes greater trust, whether that is your family or that’s a board. So, at the board table, there are ways in which that trust is eroded, and those are such things as gatekeeping and exclusion, determining who is and who is not on the board.

Many times term limits, for example, are used in a very healthy way and very needed. I was just talking to someone the other day who was struggling on a board because the board chair has been there 18 years. There are no term limits. So, in terms of hearing new voices there, it’s very challenging. This is where board rubrics and pipelines and mentorship are so important.

Then there’s also trust-eroding practices. We have our own biases. We all have them when we come into a setting, and then if you want to use the language around DEI, there’s a lot of fatigue. I mean, I’ve [00:22:00] seen boards where they wanted to honor becoming a more diverse and inclusive environment, and one school that we knew of did a climate survey to determine, but the results were so negative that actually the executive committee decided we’re not going to actually share this with the greater board and we’ll just keep working on it because there was fatigue, like, “Oh, gosh, once again, we’re still not doing it right.” So, instead of being transparent, which is one of the ways in which you build trust, it became even greater rift between faculty and staff and students.

There are blindfolds that we all have, and so we talk about those in the book; gatekeeping and biases and fatigue are just some of them, but the ways in which we can improve trust are some very simple practices. They are that accountability. They are transparency. It’s listening with vulnerability to the people on your board and also to making sure the board is hearing from the community that it’s [00:23:00] serving.

Raza: Yeah, that’s a great list. Just to add a few practical things that I’ve seen use of executive sessions for a more open conversation without management, having one-to-one meetings with other board members maybe outside the boardroom, board dinners, many, many other ways, so that those sidebar conversations, those trust building things can happen as they go.

Joe: I have a question though, 18 years as a chair, that seems very long, and as one of our guests once said, term limits of any kind are type of rough justice. But at some point, how is there good governance if the same person has been chair for that long? I mean, what is the point in having an incredible board of diverse perspective if the same voice is leading it for that long? I think that would just be a big challenge,

Jennifer: Oh, it is. I mean, this is again where your [00:24:00] culture is determined. I mean, we had one group where sadly a chair passed away, and it was very tragic, very sudden, no one was prepared. CEO successions and chair successions, that’s a whole other conversation and what was revealed though was even though the bylaws said, “Okay this is how we move forward with our authority structure,” there was such a clan and family culture to a board that it actually was like, “Okay, we’re not really like kind of bylaws, my laws. We’re not really going to do it that way because we’re family, and this is how we’ll choose the next person.”

That was eyeopening, but you don’t mess with the family, and I think even with someone who’s been there 18 years, oftentimes when people are around at the founding or an inception, that is very hard to break those ties. So, that’s where those term limits come into play for good governance. I mean good governance creates health. Good boundaries create healthy culture.

Joe: Yeah, [00:25:00] I see. Where there’s a long history where people feel like part of a family, it is easy to be tethered to the past rather than just learning from the past, and that can stop a board from really developing and from really advancing because they were, I would say, afraid to let go of the things they think made them successful, and it’s really important.

I mean, this is true in real families. You got to move forward. I mean, at some point, you’ve got to let your kids. live their life. You can’t keep them home the whole time, and I think with boards, it’s easy to just feel comfortable with the same leadership and kind of not stirring the pot too much, but the reality is, if you’re tethered to the past, then you’re really not advancing.

Raza: In the beginning, that the book is written in a narrative and includes a character. So, talk a little bit about that and how the book is [00:26:00] written and how the character’s story and journey goes in the book.

Jennifer: Well, meet Crystal. She’s a new board member. Russell West and I believe strongly in the power of story because even if I was to sit across Joe, like from someone who was the chair for 18 years, it would be very hard for them, to be honest, sometimes to let go of that power. But if they are actually reading a story, and maybe that character is there for 18 years, it speaks to them in a different way. Sometimes we need story to hold up mirrors to ourselves, and so we felt like a story would be powerful.

So, we introduced Crystal in the first chapter and every chapter reveals a different part of who she is and also who the other board members are, because we each come to the table with our own cultures, our own history, and if we don’t know one another, we might have those biases against another and and that can make things really hard, and we’re having those hard conversations in our broader culture right [00:27:00] now, and so we use story to unpack some of the concepts of what does it mean to build trust on a board? What does it mean to come with humility on a board for this character of Crystal?

Raza: What a terrific way to do it in a storyline.

Jennifer: Thank you. I learned it. Well, this is my first book, so as you’re writing a story, you start to change as a person. You start to see yourself in the character, and the character takes on a life of its own. It’s been a very almost therapeutic process too, because every story that Crystal deals with is something Russell and I have seen, or coached on, or experienced, and so the stories that she is experiencing are ones that we have known personally, so it’s been quite a process.

Raza: We’ll look forward to, The Culturally Conscious Board, the movie.

Jennifer: You will be a star, have a starring role.

Joe: That is something I’d look forward to. We were talking before about the importance of a board chair in helping board culture. [00:28:00] But when we talked recently, we talked about the relationship between the CEO and board chair in those instances where they’re not the same person and how important that partnership can be in culture. Can you talk a little bit about why that is and how that works?

Jennifer: Well, the hiring of the CEO is the most important decision a board makes, and we have all experienced or been in those roles and having someone to whom that CEO is accountable to is really important. The CEO is accountable to the board as a whole, but as we mentioned, there are many people on the board, and so the role between the chair in determining the culture of that organization is super important because the CEO works with the chair to develop the agenda, to develop the calendar of what is actually being discussed. There is a lot of power in that.

As we talked about before, those agendas, like they sound so boring, but they really do set culture. It sets how much time is given to certain topics, which topics, which metrics do you look for in [00:29:00] your dashboard. All of those artifacts in the sense of our culture really help build accountability and transparency. The CEO and the chair need to be aligned in the vision of the organization and its mission and putting everything through that lens and then making sure there is accountability to the greater board that the right information is being given.

Joe: What is the evidence that there’s real accountability in a board? What would you see if a board really understood that it was being held accountable?

Jennifer: I think it starts with the orientation, actually. I think it starts with an orientation of understanding what are our bylaws? What are our standing policies? What are the dashboards that we look at in the metrics and who do we hear from? I have many experiences with positive forward culture, but sometimes board members don’t know what the bylaws really are about.

I was talking with the board the other day and someone had signed up to be on the [00:30:00] board not realizing it was actually a private operating foundation, not a nonprofit. I mean, it’s a nonprofit organization but there are different designations and operating is different, and so being fully aware of what the bylaws are and the standing policies and the dashboards, I think, provide good accountability, and that comes with the orientation in your onboarding, and what is the onboarding that really gives you ownership of the mission. So, that’s one of the conversations we ask in our board culture placement in terms of just understanding, is there an onboarding

Joe: When you’re looking for board members, one of the things that you’ve mentioned was that of course, skills and experience are important, but that third category that we often refer to, other attributes, are actually at least equally important because it helps make sure that the people you’re bringing onto the board are a good fit. And if there’s not a good fit, a good relationship among board members, [00:31:00]whatever that might be for a particular board, then it really doesn’t operate that well. What kind of attributes do you look for?

Jennifer: So, the one we discuss in the book is actually humility, I say that? in okay, that’s, you know, like, what is that? Like, it’s, Is it weakness? Is it a kind of weakness or And I actually think talk about this one guy, Barry Rowan, who, um, has led Fortune 100 companies and serves on many different You look him up, go, um, like in flight, like if he’s leading his corporation, he’s going to, um, recognize that he’s a part of something greater than himself. recognize there are limits to what he knows that he needs other people, that he is willing to grow and change. and willing to fail and learn from those mistakes. And so I want to be looking for someone who’s like that. I want to [00:32:00] bring on a board member who comes in with a posture of humility, because I know that that will actually help build trust on my board. So, that’s not always easy to find. It’s not a question that’s often asked, having been through several recently.

Like it’s, um,

Joe: Well, there’s no question about that. I don’t know if you can really ask someone if they have humility though.

Jennifer: No, how they, um, perceive themselves and how they, to provide examples of failure and what they have um, when they’ve taken risks and maybe failed. What did they learn from it? Um, ask who they in their accountability, uh, circle.

Joe: Yeah. And actually, when I’ve done board candidate interviews, one of the questions that I see a lot and have used a lot is, talk about how you operate in a boardroom, and when people say, “I listen to what other board members say,” for example. I know that sounds almost like a platitude, but when you say it and when you hear someone say it, and you [00:33:00] know they mean it, it does reflect the kind of humility that you’re talking about, because you’re in a room with other people who are equal to you in terms of their vote. And to your point, if you’re going to hear every voice, you have to have a lot of good listeners around the room. Otherwise, what is the point of having the board to begin with? So, I think it’s a great point. I think humility is a great way to think about what you’re looking for that will help make the dynamics in the room work.

Jennifer: Well, that goes back to the CEO, right, and the chair, because the tone that book about, a It’s actually a friend who had this experience, but who, was a new board uh, happened to be a woman and spoke when an issue came to her in her wheelhouse, right area of expertise and it was her first board meeting.

And so she [00:34:00] speaks up. Uh, Well, she comes to find out later that in private, the CEO and how dare that person speak up? And don’t they know kind of. you wait like three board meetings till you know the culture before you speak up,” and thankfully someone did address it and spoke up it’s like, isn’t that why you brought this person on board? meeting, there was a gentleman who was watching the eyes of the executive committee and was like, “Oh, those are the real players, like those are the ones that actually make the decisions. I think I’ll just sit back.”

So, if two having this experience in a board meeting, you know, it’s probably an unhealthy and so that’s where I think the chair sets the

Joe: It is such bullshit to think that someone should sit around for three meetings and just listen and learn.

Clearly, there’s a lot to learn on a new board, but if you have gone through a process to identify and recruit board members and you don’t want them to talk for the first few meetings, then I think you [00:35:00] don’t understand what the board really is. That seems like a 19th century idea

Jennifer: Oh Yeah. But into DEI stuff, right? Because

Joe: Right?

Jennifer: when are in versus really wanting their voice to be heard? And. when they actually shake

Joe: really.

Yeah. Yeah. It does kind of let you know where the rubber hits the road, because if you talk the talk, you got to walk the walk. And if the first thing that comes out of your mouth is, how dare she speak, I think we kind of know where that person stood.

Is there anything else you want to cover before we end? Any final things you want to say or anything that you wanted to cover?

Jennifer: um, I, being grateful for uh, spending an hour with you two, I, um, believe so the importance of the social sector and nonprofits and the work, the good work that they are doing, um, whether it is serving the poorest of the poor, or it’s providing bringing expression into our cities and [00:36:00]communities.

Um, there’s so much good. To be and we want our culture to be an asset and not liability. Right? And so my exhortation is just to to encourage boards. I hope they’ll read The Culturally Conscious Board. I hope they’ll check out CulturallyConsciousBoard.Com, but that they will take the time to have these deeper conversations so that their work is even more

Joe: That is a great way to end the conversation. It’s been great speaking with you today. Thanks so much for joining us. And thank you all for listening to On Boards with our guest, Jennifer Jukanovich.

Raza: Please visit our website at OnBoardsPodcast.com. That’s OnBoardsPodcast.com. We’d love to hear your comments, suggestions, and feedback. And if you’re not already a subscriber, please be sure to subscribe at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts and remember to leave us a five-star review.

Joe: Please stay safe and take care of yourselves, your families, and your communities as best you can. [00:37:00] And we hope you’ll tune in for the next episode of On Boards. Thanks.