- Created on 05 November 2012
Chicago's nonprofits say they're eager to diversify their boards, but their attempts to add more minority and female members have produced only modest results so far.
One common refrain: All of the "good" board members are taken. In nonprofit-speak, these people are "boarded up," or serving on so many nonprofit boards that they can't make time for another.
"We are long past the point where you have a bunch of corporate CEOs saying, 'We don't know anyone who's qualified,' " says John Rowe, chairman of the Field Museum's board of directors and former chairman and CEO of Exelon Corp.
"The trouble is, everyone's list looks the same," Mr. Rowe says. "Everyone wants (McDonald's President and CEO) Don Thompson," who is African-American.
The Field Museum's 82-member board has seven black, five Latino, four Asian, one Native American and 65 white board members. An interest in natural science and the time and willingness to attend board meetings are entry-level requirements. Mr. Rowe says the board sometimes relaxes its $50,000-per-year financial requirement to accommodate prospects not yet well-heeled enough to make that kind of donation.
Deborah Rutter, president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, agrees that too many organizations are chasing too few people. "The very focus on diversity in this community means you have some individuals who are called on too frequently," she says. The association's 58-member board is two-thirds white men.
Ms. Rutter offers philosophical reasons for a diverse board: "To have a really vibrant organization, its community leadership must fully represent the community we serve," she says.
There are also more tangible reasons to diversify.
Chicago Community Trust, a foundation that in 2011 granted $130 million to area nonprofits, has denied grants to organizations whose boards are too homogenous, says Terry Mazany, president and CEO.
The trust's application asks nonprofits for a diversity and inclusion statement. "When an organization is dismissive of that type of conversation, then, we have declined grants," Mr. Mazany says. That happens three or four times a year, with grant amounts in the $50,000 to $100,000 range, he says.
'CIRCLE OF FRIENDS'
One factor hampering the search for minority and female board members is the current face of most nonprofit boards.
"What happens on so many boards is that they recruit people who look like themselves—that's their circle of friends," says Edith Falk, chairman of Campbell & Co., a Chicago-based firm that consults for nonprofits. With such homogenous recruiting, "you're not getting the rich conversation that you would if you had" a more diverse group, she says.
' What happens on so many boards is that they recruit people who look like themselves.'
— Edith Falk, chairman, Campbell & Co.
Ms. Falk also warns against tokenism. "It's really hard to bring one or two people on board and claim you have a diverse board," she says. "A serious board has to recruit a core group of people."
Mostly white boards can succeed in diversifying. Two black women, Renetta McCann, chief talent officer at Leo Burnett, and Ava Youngblood, founder and CEO of Youngblood Executive Search in Chicago, joined the Chicago Shakespeare Theater board in September.
Ms. McCann came to the board's attention when Arc Worldwide, a unit of Leo Burnett, sponsored Chicago Shakespeare's fall production of "Sunday in the Park With George." Ms. Youngblood and Barbara Gaines, Chicago Shakespeare's artistic director, served together as Northwestern University trustees.
Ms. Youngblood, 55, serves on three nonprofit boards, including the theater's. "I wasn't ready to add more to my plate," she says. She accepted the invitation because of the theater's emphasis on education, which is her underlying philanthropic interest.
FISHING FROM THE SAME POOL
Another obstacle to diversifying is the place most nonprofits hunt for new board members: corporate boardrooms.
"If you're looking at C-suite executives in Chicago . . . 75 percent are Caucasian," says Gloria Castillo, president at Chicago United, a nonprofit that works to improve race relations and offer more job opportunities for people of color. Earlier this year, Chicago United compiled information on executive diversity from the area's 50 biggest companies by revenue. Ms. Castillo says the results indicate that at the current rate of promotion, minorities will reach parity in 89 years.
Several nonprofits are trying alternative pipelines such as young professionals boards.
Goodman Theatre in Chicago has had a young professionals board for 20 years. Five years ago, it rebranded as Scenemakers under the guidance of Goodman trustee Lester Coney, who in 2005 became the first black chairman of a major nonprofit board in the city. The 28-member Scenemakers board has seven nonwhite members. Goodman's board of trustees, including life trustees, has 88 members, including 17 nonwhite members. To date, the auxiliary board (in a past incarnation as the Discovery board) has yielded two female trustees—Patricia Cox and Shawn Donnelley—but no racial minority trustees, at least not yet.
"Over the course of time, it will become a way to increase board diversity and find younger people and more women," says Roche Schulfer, executive director at Goodman. Board diversity, he adds, is part of a "larger institutional commitment" to diversity that includes staffing, artistic leadership and the works Goodman puts on stage.
Another route is BoardLink, a database launched by Chicago United in 2008 to link minority professionals with nonprofit boards. Since its inception, it has placed 37 people on 39 boards. "It is remarkable to me that we have these amazing candidates and they haven't just been gobbled up," Ms. Castillo says.
See what Chicago United's BoardLink has done since its local debut in 2008
Chicago Shakespeare Theater created a profile on BoardLink in August and has since been in contact with several prospective board candidates, says Brooke Walters, the theater's director of institutional development. Ms. Walters predicts it will take six months to discover whether they are a good fit.
Board recruiting "is not a transactional effort," she says. "You're looking for people who are going to make (the board) a priority in their life."
Andrea Zopp, president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League, which helps Chicago United maintain BoardLink, is surprised that more nonprofits don't use it—or her—as a resource. "We certainly could be more of a source of referrals," says Ms. Zopp, who serves on five nonprofit boards. "I don't get asked."
She dismisses the notion that there aren't enough qualified, passionate executives to fill board seats. "It's more that you haven't made the effort," she says. "We're in Chicago—it's a great city that has a diverse pool of talent and we just have to access it."
Read more: http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20121103/ISSUE01/311039974/why-white-men-still-dominate-nonprofit-boards#ixzz2BMZFl3Bz
- Created on 02 November 2012
Major health and safety hazards remain even after a hurricane's wind and rain have passed. Injuries can happen to anyone dealing with the aftermath of a major storm, so it is wise to be overly cautious. Debris-filled streets are dangerous; therefore, walk or drive with caution. Prior to entering a building, check for structural damage.
Make sure it is not in danger of collapse. Turn off any outside gas lines and let house air for several minutes to remove escaping gas. Upon entering a building, do not use open flame as a light source: Use a battery-operated flashlight. Never leave young children alone or allow them to play in damaged buildings or in areas that might be unsafe. Wear protective clothing on legs, arms, feet, and hands while cleaning up debris. Wear rubber gloves while scrubbing flood damaged interiors and furniture.
Electrical Safety After a Hurricane
It is wise to be overly cautious and aware of electrical hazards. Watch for loose or dangling power lines, and report them immediately to the proper authorities. Be sure all electric and gas services are turned off before entering the premises for the first time. Disconnect main switch and all circuits. Watch for electrical shorts or live wires. Do not turn on any lights or appliances until an electrician has checked the system for short circuits.
When inspecting a house for hurricane damage, make sure there is no live power in or around the house. Make doubly sure that main electrical breakers are off. The most common repairs will involve nailing plywood or taping heavy plastic to broken windows, ceilings, and walls. Flooded basements should be drained and cleaned as soon as possible. After the floodwater around your property has subsided, begin draining the basement in stages—about one third of the water volume each day. To prevent flooded wooden floors from buckling and warping further, drive nails into the areas of the floor where it lifts or bulges. It is also important to remove loose plaster and repair the damaged plaster on the walls and ceilings after the house is completely dry.
After a major storm, you must assume that all water sources are contaminated until proven safe. Purify all water used for drinking, cooking, and washing, and for eating and cooking utensils. Also, purify the water used for washing hands, body, and kitchen and bathroom surfaces. Do not use water that has a dark color, an odor, or contains floating material. To disinfect water, one of four methods may be used: (1) boil at a rolling boil for 10 minutes; (2) add 8 drops of liquid chlorine bleach (such as Chlorox) per gallon of water; (3) add 20 drops of two percent iodine per gallon of clear water, or 40 drops per gallon of cloudy water; (4) add water purlfication tablets according to directions on the package. These tablets can be bought at most drug and sporting goods stores. These solutions should be thoroughly mixed and the water allowed to stand for at least 30 minutes before using. To lessen the flat taste of boiled water, pour the water back and forth several times between two clean containers. Water in water pipes and toilet flush tanks (not bowls) is safe to drink if the valve on the main water line was losed before the flood.
Do not start a fire in a fireplace that has a broken chimney. Be sure the damper is open. If you have to build a fire outside, build it away from buildings—never in a carport. Sparks can easily get into the ceiling and start a house fire. Never use gasoline to get a wood or charcoal fire started. A charcoal grill is a good place to build a wood fire. Be sure to put out any fire when you are through with it. When cooking is not possible, a number of canned foods may be eaten cold.
- Created on 31 October 2012
WASHINGTON (AP) — Just about everybody agrees Washington is a gridlocked mess. But who's the man to fix it? After two years of brawling and brinkmanship between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans, more voters trust Mitt Romney to break the stalemate, an Associated Press-GfK poll shows.
Romney's message — a vote for Obama is a vote for more gridlock — seems to be getting through. Almost half of likely voters, 47 percent, think the Republican challenger would be better at ending the logjam, compared with 37 percent for Obama.
With the race charging into its final week, Romney is pushing that idea. He increasingly portrays himself as a get-things-done, work-with-everybody pragmatist, in hopes of convincing independent voters that he can overcome Washington's bitter partisanship. The AP-GfK poll shows the race in a virtual dead heat, with Romney at 47 percent to Obama's 45 percent, a difference within the margin of sampling error.
At a rally Wednesday in Coral Gables, Fla., Romney recounted how he worked with the Democratic-led Legislature as governor of Massachusetts and insisted he would find common ground with Democrats in Washington, too: "We can't change course in America if we keep attacking each other. We've got to come together and get America on track again."
Obama made his own show of bipartisanship Wednesday, touring superstorm Sandy devastation alongside Republican Gov. Chris Christie in New Jersey. A major Romney supporter, Christie has been praising Obama's "outstanding" response to the natural disaster.
Obama counters the Washington gridlock question by predicting that Republican lawmakers focused on opposing his re-election will become more cooperative once he wins a second term and becomes ineligible to run again. Referring to the top Republicans in Congress, Obama joked he would "wash John Boehner's car" or "walk Mitch McConnell's dog" to help get a federal deficit-cutting deal.
Obama also argues that Romney is more conservative these days than when he was elected governor and will find his newer ideas don't go down easily with Senate Democrats. For example, Romney, who worked with legislators to pass a health care overhaul in Massachusetts, has vowed to repeal the Democrats' similar national health care law.
In the AP-GfK poll, about 1 out of 6 likely voters didn't take a side on the gridlock issue: 6 percent weren't sure who would do a better job at getting Washington moving and 10 percent didn't trust either man to break the impasse among congressional partisans.
"They all need to be taken by the ear by a grandma," voter Margaret Delaney, 65, said in frustration.
She lives in Janesville, Wis., the hometown of Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, and she's leaning toward voting for the GOP ticket. But when it comes to ending gridlock, Delaney thinks it may not matter whether Romney or Obama is president.
"I'm not sure either of them can do it," she said.
A political standoff last year came close to forcing the government to default on its bills and led Standard & Poor's to downgrade the United States' credit rating. Over the past two years, a Congress split between Republican and Democratic leadership posted one of the least productive sessions in history.
When lawmakers return after Election Day for a lame-duck session, they need to work together with Obama to solve some festering troubles, including the "fiscal cliff" — a looming combination of higher taxes and spending cuts that could trigger another recession if Congress doesn't find a resolution.
If re-elected, Obama will almost certainly face another two years or more of divided government. Polling in the states suggests Republicans are likely to keep the control of the U.S. House that they won in 2010. And tea partyers who stymied efforts to reach a deficit-reduction deal seem certain to remain a substantial presence.
There's a good chance that a President Romney would face a split Congress, as well. Democrats appear to have an edge in holding onto their Senate majority, especially if the presidential race remains close. At least a dozen of the 33 Senate races remain competitive, making the overall outcome tough to predict.
Obama also likes to remind Democrats and like-minded independent voters that he serves as a check on congressional Republicans. The president suggests Romney would be unwilling to stand up to "the more extreme parts of his party."
Leigh Westholm of Pensacola, Fla., said that's why she supports Obama's re-election even though she doesn't think he will be able to make peace with House Republicans.
"It takes two to tango and he has tried and tried for four years," Westholm said. "It might be better for Romney, but I don't agree with his views."
But Romney supporter Gary Bivins, a 57-year-old West Chester, Ohio, retiree volunteering in his first presidential campaign, says don't blame Congress.
A president needs the ability to lead, he said, and "I think Obama has shown no skill in that area."
The Associated Press-GfK Poll was conducted Oct. 19-23 by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. It involved landline and cellphone interviews with 1,186 adults nationwide, including 839 likely voters. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, for likely voters it is 4.2 points.
AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius and AP writers Todd Richmond in Wisconsin, Melissa Nelson-Gabriel in Pensacola, Dan Sewell in Cincinnati and Kasie Hunt in Florida contributed to this report. The questions and results are available at http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com .
- Created on 01 November 2012
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Here was Chas Kaufmann's life before the Great Recession: $28,000 in restaurant tabs in a year, cruises, house parties with fireworks. His Mr. Gutter business was booming in the Pennsylvania Poconos.
Now: "We mainly shop at Sam's Club and portion out our meals. We spend $4 to $5 a night on eating." He and his wife use space heaters in their elegant house and leave parts of it cold. The Hummer is gone, and he drives a 2005 pickup. On Nov. 6, Kaufman is voting for Mitt Romney.
Lower down the ladder, the recession put Simone Ludlow's life in a full circle. Laid off by an Atlanta hotel company in 2009, Ludlow, 32, bounced from job to job for two years, got by with a "very generous mother," still makes do by renting a room in a house owned by friends, and is back working for the company that had let her go. She's voting for President Barack Obama.
For four years, the bumpy economy cut an uneasy path. It raked small towns and big cities, knocked liberals and conservatives on their backs, plagued Republicans and Democrats alike.
It was the worst economic setback since the Depression, and it didn't take sides.
Across the country, Associated Press reporters asked people to talk about their livelihoods before and after the December 2007-June 2009 recession and how those experiences have shaped their politics in the presidential election just days away. Their answers help illuminate why the race is so close. In this time of great polarization, their stories bridge the partisan divide, showing that resilience and optimism are shared traits, too, and that no one seems to think either candidate can work miracles.
"Our potential doesn't rely on an election and one man or even a ballot," said Ben McCoy, 35, of Wilmington, N.C., creative director for 101 Mobility, a company that sells, installs and services handicapped access equipment. "I don't think either candidate for president has the conviction to go as far as we need to go to really get back to stability."
Economic well-being, for him, will come from personal decisions by his wife and himself, not Washington. "We will roll up our sleeves and cut the family budget down to the core if we have to, where we know we're going to eat and we know the lights are going to stay on, and that's it. We'll do it. We won't laugh and dance about it, but we'll do it."
In the Charlotte area, the recession played a cruel trick on Obama supporter Tamala Harris, wrecking the Charlotte housing market just after she quit a job to go into selling real estate. It drove Romney supporter Ray Arvin out of business selling industrial equipment from North Carolina and cleaned out his retirement savings with not that many years left to start from scratch. Both have more hope than you might think.
Harris, 38, is back in Charlotte after getting her master's in business from the University of Rochester in New York. During the worst of the calamity, she used loans and scholarships to advance her education, and looks back on it all as a time that made her dig deep.
"It made me realize what was important," she said. "It's just not the material things and having things to improve your status. I know that people are in such a rush to have things. They feel that is a validation — 'Oh I have this, I have that.' I was one of them. So, for me, I found it was a time to reflect on your character — and rebuild again. It was a wonderful time to realize when you don't have certain things — money is not coming, or houses are not selling — who's really in your corner. "
Arvin, 47, is starting over, too.
In 2001, he and his wife bought a small company that sold equipment to power utilities and the aviation industry. Business hummed until 2007, when five big customers filed for bankruptcy and the couple raided their retirement and savings accounts to keep the enterprise afloat. It sank in 2009. Now he travels five states in a 2005 Suburban as sales representative for a business supplying equipment to electric and gas companies, bringing home $50,000 to $60,000 after taxes and travel expenses.
"Am I doing better? Yes. But I've lost so much. I'm starting new. I'm confident in my ability to work hard and do well with what I do."
Polls consistently find that the economy is the top concern of voters, and Romney tends to get an edge over Obama when people are asked who might do better with it. Whether that truly drives how Americans vote is a crucial question for Election Day.
Other factors often came into play with the people who talked to AP. Republicans didn't buy the Romney campaign's portrayal of Obama as a one-man wrecking crew in economic affairs. Democrats didn't see him as a savior. They all realize life is more complicated than that.
Beth Ashby, 38, an artist and freelance photographer in North Hollywood, Calif., is a registered Democrat who thinks Obama is bad for her savings. If he's re-elected, she said, "I think I'm going to be less likely to set money aside in my investments. I might be safer just storing it in the shoe box under the bed."
Romney, she said, "seems to have a head for business." But he's turned her off on environmental issues, abortion and "some of his comments involving women." Obama or a third-party unknown will get her vote.
Dave Hinnaland, 51, a fourth-generation sheep and cattle rancher who co-owns the family's 17,000 working acres outside Circle, Mont., simply seems hard-wired to vote for a Republican president. As the national economy sank, the local economy shot ahead thanks to booming oil production in the Bakken oil fields to the east. The days of $300-a-month house rentals, when people's pickups were more expensive than their homes, are over.
"When this area was settled 100 or more years ago, there were people who took a chance and moved out here," he said. "They worked hard and were able to build something for themselves and their families."
So his message to all in Washington: "Let us have the means and options to chart our own path. Don't hamstring us with rules and regulations. And let people that are willing to go out to work take a chance, let them have the opportunity to do it. We don't need a big hand hovering over our head telling us what we can and cannot do."
If the recession spared oil and gas lands, Kaufmann, of Kunkletown, Pa., saw it coming in the gutter trade, specifically when he started noticing that nearly all of his customers' checks were drawn on home equity credit lines.
"How long do you think this is going to last?" he recalled asking his wife. "I said, 'I just did a homeowner, the wife lost her job, and without her job, he can't afford the mortgage.' That's when we started buckling down. I said, 'You know what? It's time.'
"What happened is, the banks overextended all these people. People were buying clothes, putting in in-ground pools, putting gutters up where they didn't need to be replaced. I was putting gutters up when people didn't need gutters. I would tell them. But they wanted to change the colors. You ride by those houses now and they either have three feet of grass or the windows are boarded up."
His gross income has been halved since 2006 and 2007. No cruises since he turned 60 five years ago.
Cruises aren't on the horizon for Cristian Eusebio, 20, either. He makes $10.50 an hour as a bank teller in Springdale, Ark. He lives at home with a father who works at a food-packaging plant that's been cutting staff and a mother who found work at a warehouse store. The family refinanced before their home mortgage ballooned, skipped a vacation to pay down a debt and pinched pennies.
"It could have gotten worse, but it got better because my mom got a job, my sister got a job and then later in high school, I got a job," he said. "It has gotten better, but I think it's just because more of us are working. Some of us pay one bill. The other one pays another."
In Atlanta, where she serves as event manager for her hotel, Ludlow puts no faith in Romney's ability to make the economy sound and offers less than ringing praise for the candidate she supports. "He may not personally be the smartest guy about the economy," she says of Obama, "but what I do appreciate is the fact that he knows when to listen to smarter people."
Her economic worries transcend politics of the moment. She ticks them off: "The long shift that we've had with the globalizing world, going from a manufacturing to a service economy. From a service economy to just a consumer economy, period, that buys more than it produces. And everybody having a job that can be done by a human being, but it's just more cost-effective to do it with a computer.
"All of those factors float around my head and keep me up some nights," she said. "The economy is (in) an incredible state of transition that we've never seen before. And nobody has any idea what it's going to look like. When the smoke clears, what are we going to be living in? And nobody seems to have an answer to that. Nobody knows. All you can do is put on a couple of Band-Aids here and try something there, and see what happens. And that makes me nervous."
If the recession played no favorites among the rich, the poor and those in between, the recovery did. Lost jobs and homes may not have come back but the stock market did, favoring those whose wealth resided in investments.
Carol Clemens, a 66-year-old retiree from Edmond, Okla., and member of the local chapter of an investing club, put money into Ford shares near the bottom of the market in 2009, sold some and has seen the value of the rest grow fivefold. That eased her rough patch. "In short, we're not better off than we were in 2007, but neither are we destitute, for which we give thanks," she said. She's leaning toward Romney.
But investments and politics ebb and flow. Of more concern is the nation's future. She's the mother of grown children who "are not as conscious of saving as we were at their ages," and of grandchildren who are entering higher education. She laments class divisions played up in the campaign — the stigmatization of the poor, the dissing of the rich — and thinks the country needs a deeper fix than any one leader can achieve.
"Americans have got to start taking full responsibility for our messes," she said. "We vote in ineffective politicians, we tolerate second-rate educational systems, we envy those who have worked to have more and resent those who burden our social services because they have great needs.
"I would hope that the next president would have the guts to call us on our blindness and narrow visions," said Clemens. "We have to regain our ability to stop, consider and give a damn if we are going to change things."
Woodward reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Michael Rubinkam, Dave Carpenter in Chicago, Matt Sedensky in West Palm Beach, Fla., Michael Sandler in Richmond, Va., Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin in Detroit, Alex Veiga in Los Angeles, Matthew Brown in Billings, Mont., Jeannie Nuss in Little Rock, Ark., and Mark Jewell in Boston contributed to this report.
- Created on 30 October 2012
(CNN) -- As President Barack Obama spends the day in Washington dealing with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, one of his top surrogates heads to Minnesota, where the race for the White House has appeared to tighten in the state once considered a safe bet for Democrats.
Former President Bill Clinton will make stops in Minneapolis and Duluth Tuesday to stump on Obama's behalf. The trip was announced Monday, after a poll over the weekend suggested a close race between the president and his GOP rival Mitt Romney.
That survey, conducted by Mason-Dixon for the Star Tribune, was taken entirely after the final presidential debate. It indicated the president with a three point advantage over Romney among likely Minnesota voters. Forty-seven percent of respondents said they would back the president and 44% said they support Romney. Obama's advantage was within the survey's 3.5 percentage point sampling error.
The poll also showed Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson with 2% support of likely voters in the state.
Sunday's poll - paired with small ad buys by the Obama and Romney campaigns in Minnesota - suggest a tightening race in a state that turned out overwhelmingly for then-Illinois Sen. Obama in 2008. Obama took 54% of the vote in Minnesota four years ago, compared to 44% that went to Arizona Sen. John McCain.
The last Republican presidential candidate to win Minnesota was Richard Nixon in 1972. The state carries a prize of ten electoral votes.
Republican's believe there is some movement in Minnesota toward the GOP while Democrats billed the ad buy as a ploy to generate buzz about a close race that does not exist.
On a conference call Monday, top Obama adviser David Axelrod said the Obama team was "not going to surrender any territory there," but said he was confident of a win in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
An earlier poll from St. Cloud State University, taken from October 15-21 and released Friday, indicated Obama with an eight point edge over Romney, 53% to Romney's 45%. Like the Star Tribune poll, the result was within the sampling error.
CNN's Dana Davidsen contributed to this report.
™ & © 2012 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.