Executive Director Learning Circle

Executive director leader circle

grow and learn with fellow leaders

United Way of Rhode Island invites executive directors who lead nonprofit organizations with annual budgets under $1 million to apply for our Executive Director Learning Circle.

The Executive Director Learning Circle experience centers on real-time situations facing participants. The issues might include strategy, board engagement, fund development, or a pending operational challenge.  Key to the success of this process is that each organization is of similar size and capacity, and the learning is not just through the facilitator but from one another. 

Feedback from recent participants

Kate Lentz, Director, Rhode Island Center for the Book

"Most nonprofit workshops I have attended present static models of best practices that smaller organizations either have to scale down to meet their organizational needs or do not have the resources to fulfill. Executive Director Learning Circle meets you where you are. Each session was a helpful blend of real-life experience, concrete takeaways, and inspiration. The third Friday of every month became a sacred space where we could share frustrations and successes, find immediate solutions for our real-time problems and glean advice from successful leaders from across our state. 

The-Hate-U-Give-RARI-Program-adjusted

Kristen A. Williams, Ph.D., Executive Director, Riverzedge Arts

Executive directors working at small non-profits often wear many hats! Meeting monthly with Michael Fournier and the incredibly supportive group of peers assembled by United Way gave me the encouragement I needed to take on and resolve difficult issues in ways that best fit the mission of Riverzedge Arts. Each month, we discussed a different facet of non-profit leadership with an expert in the field, providing us opportunities not only to learn, but also to engage with the broader non-profit community. And since everyone in my cohort identified as female, I was extremely grateful that Michael not only made room for, but also encouraged, thoughtful discussions about the ways our roles as executive directors and our personal identities (gender, sex, dis/ability, race, etc.) intersected. At a time when equity and inclusivity are rightly being brought to the fore, Michael and United Way modeled those values in convening and supporting this group. 

Riverzedge Arts

Program details and application process

Executive Director Leader Circle 2018 (2)

Format

Participants meet the third Friday of each month from 8:30 – 11:30 a.m., starting in January. Each session includes competency topics, group discussions, and practical scenario sharing. (Currently, we are planning to hold virtually via Zoom for 2021. We may change to an in-person format at our United Way office, depending on state and United Way guidelines.)

Executive Director Learning Circle participants gain real-life experience and explore a variety of topics, including: 

  • Strategy development and implementation 
  • Board development and engagement 
  • Staffing and priority alignment 
  • Comprehensive fund development 
  • Risk management and emergency preparedness 

Lead facilitator Michael Fournier

Michael Fournier has provided volunteer consulting to numerous grassroots nonprofits in Rhode Island and Southeast Massachusetts over the past 6 years, primarily in the areas of capacity building and executive coaching. He previously spent 35 years at the YMCA, serving in senior leadership roles in Manchester, NH, and Providence. 

Commitment and finances

For the duration of the 11-month learning experience, participants must dedicate the third Friday of each month to the program. In addition, there will be the occasion to engage in some minor preparation for an upcoming session. 

Participation in the program is free, thanks to generous funding from Bank Newport. Upon completion, each graduate’s organizations receive grants of $2,000 to complete an organizational goal identified at the outset of the program. 

Application process

Applications are due each year in December for the following year’s program.

Executive Director Leader Circle 2019 (2)

IN THE NEWS

21-Day Equity Challenge logo

United Way starts 21-Day Equity Challenge

Rhode Island Monthly

"If you’d like to learn more about equity and its role in the fight against systemic racism, United Way… is here to help. Starting on Wednesday, February 24, Rhode Islanders can take part in United Way’s 21-Day Equity Challenge. Participants will receive a daily email that will feature different topics on racial equity, [including] racial identity, implicit bias… and allyship."

Read on site

Labor Vision TV LIVE UNITED 2025 Cortney Nicolato Erica Hammond

Labor Vision TV: LIVE UNITED 2025

Labor Vision TV

"Erica Hammond sits down with United Way of Rhode Island's CEO Cortney Nicolato. At the start of the new year United Way… introduced its LIVE UNITED 2025 strategic plan… The pair will discuss the importance of explicitly addressing systemic inequity, specifically racial inequity, and the role all of us can play in the fight against poverty throughout Rhode Island."

View on site

11 members of Forbes Nonprofit Council

11 Ways Nonprofits Can Garner Feedback

Forbes Nonprofit Council

"As with any business, [nonprofits must] balance… where… donors want to go and what… [customers] desire… [and] find a way to make giving feedback as painless as possible… To help, 11 members of Forbes Nonprofit Council discuss how [nonprofits can] generate feedback from both donors and customers to better plot the trajectory of the organization."

Read on site

UPCOMING EVENTS

2705eaff-ae22-4dd7-aaf2-f0df1a8c328a

YLC and Wavemaker Networking Night

Join Young Leaders Circle (YLC) members and Wavemaker Fellows at 5:30 p.m for a virtual networking event. You'll have the opportunity to meet other young professionals and expand your network from the comfort of your home.

Register here.

forum on economic stability

Forum on Economic Stability

Join United Way of Rhode Island and the City of Providence at 1 p.m. for a virtual forum on economic stability. You'll hear from policymakers and advocates about policies you can advocate for to help Rhode Island families achieve economic stability.

Register here.

Our Community Learning Partners Series features community partners that are dedicated to improving children's literacy.

Community Learning Partners Series

Join Women United at 12 p.m. for the next event in their Community Learning Partners Series. You'll hear an update on the state of afterschool in Rhode Island from United Way's Ayana Melvan and Representative Julie A. Casimiro.

Register here.