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Glasscock School of Continuing Studies

Best Boards

The Best Boards conference is an all-day program designed to help nonprofit board members and staff work together more effectively. The program is designed to be valuable to both new and seasoned board members and nonprofit executives. It is most beneficial to an organization when teams attend because they more readily implement what they learned.

Best Boards meets the elective requirement for the Leadership Institute for Nonprofit Executives (LINE) Certificate.

Date: Thursday, March 9, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (breakfast and lunch included)
Fee: $185  
Group Discount (three or more from the same organization): $135/person
AFP Member Discount: $135
CEUs: 0.6

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Registration for this event is now closed.


Keynote Speaker:

Tony Chase Chairman & CEO, ChaseSource, LP

Chase grew up attending Houston public schools and received a Stouffer scholarship for the purpose of integrating elite private schools and attended Episcopal High School in Virginia. He is an honors graduate of Harvard College, received a law degree from Harvard Law School and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Currently, Tony owns ChaseSource LP, a staffing and real estate development and construction firm. ChaseSource LP is presently ranked by Black Enterprise magazine as one of the nation’s largest minority owned companies. Tony also is an owner of the Marriott Hotel at George Bush InterContinental Airport in Houston. Mr. Chase currently serves on the boards of Anadarko (NYSE), Paragon Offshore (NYSE), and The Plaza Group. Nonprofit board memberships include Houston Endowment, Greater Houston Partnership, University of Texas School of Architecture Dean’s Advisory Council, Texas Medical Center, MD Anderson Board of Visitors, St. John’s School Board of Trustees, Houston Zoo Development, Foreign Affairs Museum Council and KIPP Schools. He has also served as Deputy Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.


Afternoon Plenary Session: Successfully Navigating Messaging Milestones

Every nonprofit evolves through lifecycles of beginnings, growth and renewal that require regular reformulation of messaging. The relevance of an organization’s mission and impact of its services pass through milestones of messaging that contribute to both its success and the strength of its bottom line. This presentation will explore clearly defined milestones experienced by organizations of all sizes and the messaging strategies necessary for successfully navigating ever evolving lifecycles.

Kelli B. Newman, APR, President, Newman & Newman

Newman brings 30 years of communication experience to her position as President of Newman & Newman, where her responsibilities center on formulating messaging strategies, developing communication plans and producing communication tools for both nonprofit and for-profit clients.  Prior to joining Newman & Newman in 1996, she spent 11 years as in-house public relations counsel for Baylor College of Medicine (including the DeBakey Heart Center) and Texas Children’s Hospital.  Her work has received numerous awards, including the Grand Excalibur, PRSA Houston’s highest recognition of professional standards.  Accredited in 1989 by the Public Relations Society of America, Ms. Newman has published several articles regarding public relations strategies, electronic media, and the experience advantage of online video.  Her article, “Conveying the Essence of Your Organization” appeared in the fall 2014 issue of the Association of Fundraising Professional’s Advancing Philanthropy magazine.



Breakout Session: Evaluation as a Planning Tool and Assessment Strategy: Basic Concepts for Measuring Results

For every nonprofit, evaluation is (or should be) an integral part of strategic planning and program implementation. Everyone has a role to play in this sometimes complex process of assessing success. So what is the story of your nonprofit? How do you move beyond anecdotal feedback to real numbers? What are the right data to be collecting? What is the most valid interpretation of that data? And how is this information (or “intelligence”) aligned with development and marketing efforts? Finally, how do you effectively communicate about evaluation with the board and the staff? In addressing these questions and others you bring to the discussion, you may come to realize you already have a sound foundation for integrating the evaluation mindset into the work of your nonprofit.

Dr. Catherine Oleksiw, Measured Transitions LLC

Oleksiw currently has a management consulting practice offering technical services and coaching primarily to nonprofits and government entities.  With over 30 years in leadership roles in state government, higher education and private industry, Catherine Oleksiw has led research and evaluation teams for government- and foundation-funded education and health projects for the US Department of Education, the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education, the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development, and the Centers for Disease Control Division of Adolescent School Health.  Her primary expertise is in education research and evaluation with a secondary focus on providing technical assistance and coaching to build the capacity of leadership and staff in strategic planning, performance measurement, monitoring and evaluation, and Return on Investment (ROI) methodology.  Dr. Oleksiw earned her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Columbia University in New York and is a Professional Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation.   She is a member of the American Education Research Association (AERA), the American Evaluation Association (AEA), and the American Psychological Association (APA).  Throughout 2016, Dr. Oleksiw led the Third Eye metrics team for the Doerr Institute for New Leaders at Rice University.  She is presently engaged with several nonprofits in the Dallas Fort Worth area and also provides leadership coaching to nonprofit executives and boards.  


Breakout Session: Interim Executive Leadership  

Leadership transition can be a challenge, but it can also be an incredible opportunity. In this session, we will explore the pros and cons of hiring an interim executive leader, factors to consider in deciding whether to hire an interim versus a permanent leader, how to prepare for an interim leader, and some tips on making the most of an interim leader's time with your organization.

Claudia Gee Vassar, Claudia Gee Vassar Consulting

Vassar is a nonprofit professional specializing in intentionally interim executive leadership. She has served as an interim ED in a variety of nonprofit sectors and with organizations at various stages of growth. Claudia loves seeing all the amazing work being done in Houston and serving alongside so many passionate and talented people working to create lasting, positive impact for our community.



Breakout Session: Upcoming Changes to the Presentation of Not-For-Profit Financial Statements

This session will provide participants an understanding of the recently issued FASB Accounting Standards Update, Presentation of Financial Statement of Not-For-Profit Entities. The session will review the key provisions of the new standard, highlight significant changes from current practice and identify the effective date and transition options.

Laurie Gutierrez, Audit Partner, Blazek & Vetterling

Gutierrez joined Blazek & Vetterling in 2003 and became a partner of the firm in 2008. She began her accounting career with Ernst & Young where she spent eight years serving healthcare and nonprofit clients. In that capacity she participated in the audits of hospitals, long-term care organizations, independent practice associations, and other health care related organizations. She subsequently spent six years in health care management. Her health care management experience includes approximately 2 years as Chief Financial Officer of PowerBrief, Inc. and its predecessor Integrated Orthopaedics and 4 years as controller of Memorial Sisters of Charity Health Plans. In addition to the overall direction and operations of the finance departments, she was responsible for financial reporting, regulatory reporting, and compliance monitoring. She received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Texas A&M University in 1988. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Texas Society of CPA’s, and the Houston Chapter of CPA’s. Laurie is President of The Parish School Board of Directors and serves on the finance committee. Laurie serves on the Board of Directors and Finance Committee and is a past-president The Women’s Home.


Mimi Holt, Audit Partner, Blazek & Vetterling

Holt joined Blazek & Vetterling in 1994 and became a partner of the firm in 2007. She began her accounting career with PriceWaterhouse Coopers where she spent approximately five years and was an audit manager serving a variety of clients including non-profit organizations. Before joining Price Waterhouse, Ms. Holt spent three years as business manager and controller of University of St. Thomas where she supervised the accounting and personnel functions. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree magna cum laude from the University of St. Thomas in 1986. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Texas Society of CPA’s, and the Houston Chapter of CPA’s. Ms. Holt serves on the audit committee of Catholic Charities USA.



Breakout Session: Optimizing and Building a Sustainable Board of Directors

Moving from the concept phase to the reality of developing a strong yet strategic board takes purposeful action and true grit. This session, Optimizing and Building a Sustainable Board, will walk attendees through the steps of building and assessing the board of directors. Using real scenarios and recent leadership data, we will uncover techniques used when developing a board of directors, re-inventing a current board, and delivering board orientations that work.

April Day, President, Women’s Business Enterprise Alliance

Day serves as the president of the Women’s Business Enterprise Alliance (WBEA). The WBEA is a leading third-party certifying organization that serves 750 women-owned business enterprises representing nine billion dollars in revenue and more than 40,000 jobs in 94 Texas counties. Her primary role is to increase opportunities for women-owned businesses and corporate members through education programs and professional networking. Under her leadership, the WBEA has enjoyed increased membership, efficiency and revenues; received more than half a million media impressions; and will soon participate in its first global trade mission to China. Additionally, she developed a Giving Tree scholarship and mentoring program for start-ups; a non-profit management and business ownership college internship program; and partnered with the City of Houston to launch the Kauffman New Venture and Growth Venture business development initiatives. Ms. Day serves on several boards including the WBEA’s Business Enterprise National Council’s Leadership Council, the Government Procurement Connection, Port of Houston Authority, Will’s Kids, the Parris Foundation and the University of Houston Non-profit Leadership Alliance.  She is a business trainer for the Houston Community College’s Center for Entrepreneurship, guest lecturer for the University of Houston’s School of Social Work and a mentor for the Me to We Foundation. A native of Springfield, Massachusetts, Ms. Day holds a bachelor of arts in psychology from the University of Houston and an MBA from Our Lady of the Lake University.


Breakout Session: What Board Members Should Know About Social Media 

Congratulations! Your organization is active on social media. What do you need to know as a board member to be supportive and make smart choices when engaging with your organization? In this session, attendees will learn how to effectively use their social media networks to benefit the organization(s) they serve, and what not to do when using social media which may reflect poorly on themselves and the nonprofit.

Lisa M. Chmiola, CFRE, Director of Major Gifts and Planned Giving, St. Agnes Academy

Chmiola is the director of major gifts and planned giving at St. Agnes Academy, a Catholic college preparatory girls’ school in Houston, Texas. She is responsible for transformational fundraising, particularly related to capital campaigns and the 1906 Society for legacy donors. Previously she served as director of advancement for the University of Houston College of Technology, where she oversaw fundraising, alumni relations, marketing and communications efforts. She was part of a task force in 2009 to develop the college’s social media sites, strategy and policies. She has presented several times locally, nationally and internationally on fundraising and social media, and was responsible for the AFP Houston chapter’s social media site development. She is a certified AFP Master Trainer and an official member of the AFPeeps, a flock of volunteers dedicated to spreading the word about AFP and the International Conference on a variety of social media outlets. She serves on the AFP International Collegiate Chapter Support subcommittee, and the task force that coordinates the annual National Philanthropy Day Honors event. She currently serves on the Planned Giving Council of Houston board as president-elect. Lisa’s 14 years of development experience also includes fundraising for the American Heart Association and the City of Lake Charles, Louisiana. In addition to a bachelor’s in journalism at UH, she earned a master’s in public relations from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Lisa is also a sustaining member of the Junior League of Houston, and a graduate of Leadership Houston’s Class XXIX and the Center for Houston's Future LeadershipNEXT program.

Breakout Session: Engage Board Members Using Strengths Empowerment

You have recruited savvy professionals to serve on your organization’s board of directors. You have oriented and developed them to be poised to make sound decisions for your organization. Are they fully engaged to create the success for which you recruited them? As their team leader, you need to know what makes your board member tick…on a deeper level than icebreakers and social functions provide. A strengths leader asks what really motivates them, how they want to be developed, how else they want to be encouraged to support the organization beyond an annual gift?

In this breakout session, participants will learn how:

  • To use talents and strengths drive a person’s behavior and accomplishments
  • To optimize strengths to play a pivotal role in engagement and team dynamics
  • To develop a strengths profile for each board member
  • To appreciate the four domains of talent
  • To utilize and understand the benefits of a team talent map

Marianita Paddock-Snodgrass,  Executive Coach, Positively Your Coach!

Snodgrass is founder and owner of Positively Your Coach!, a coaching practice that integrates the philanthropic goals and responsibilities of advancement with strengths-based leadership coaching to build strong, effective nonprofit leaders, engaged teams and boards. During her 30 years of nonprofit expertise, Marianita successfully led capital and endowment and annual giving campaigns, special events and managed volunteer teams with Girls Scouts of San Jacinto Council and Saint Agnes Academy. Prior experience at the Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau featured business development, marketing, public relations, media relations, and advertising for the George R. Brown Convention Center. Her professional experience also includes public speaking, freelance writing, and radio reporting. A native Houstonian, Marianita serves on the Emeritus Advisory Council at Saint Agnes Academy and served on its Alumnae Board and School Board where she was Advancement Committee Chair and Annual Fund Chair. As a member of AFP Houston, she participated on its Strategic Advance Professionals Focus Group, served as a Task Team member for the Membership Strategic Plan, and has been a frequent presenter at its Regional Ask the Experts Conference. Marianita is a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF), ICF Houston, and serves as an instructor for the Center for Non-profit Leadership at Rice University. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in journalism from Texas A&M University with minors in marketing and Spanish. She earned an EmPower Coaching Tools Fundamentals certificate from the University of Houston and is a Gallup-certified Strengths Coach.



Parking is in West Lot 4 near the Anderson-Clarke Center. View map.  Registered participants will receive a parking pass to print and bring with them through email.