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About the Authors

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  • For the past dozen years, Vic Murray and Yvonne Harrison have worked collaboratively combining their knowledge and expertise to make research, education, and tools available to leaders in the nonprofit sector in need of them.

    Vic Murray, Ph.D.

    Vic Murray is currently Adjunct Professor in the School of Public Administration at the University of Victoria. From 1983 to 1995, he was director of the program in voluntary sector management in the Schulich School of Business at York University, Toronto. Dr. Murray specializes in the study of voluntary sector organizations of all types with particular emphasis on the areas of board governance, strategic planning, inter-organizational collaboration, and the assessment of organizational effectiveness. He is also an active consultant and volunteer in these areas. As Director of the Nonprofit Leadership and Management Program at York University he developed Canada’s first certificate and master’s level programs in that field. He is the author of many books, articles and papers in the fields of organizational behavior and nonprofit management. His most recent book is The Management of Nonprofit and Charitable Organizations in Canada (LexisNexis, 2009).

    Currently, he is a member of the Advisory Board for the journal Nonprofit Management and Leadership, and active in the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA). In 2002 he was awarded ARNOVA’s Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1995 the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy awarded him the Alan Arlett medal for distinguished contributions to philanthropy research. In 2005, he helped to found the Association for Nonprofit and Social Economy Research of Canada and, in 2013, was awarded its Distinguished Service Award. Dr. Murray’s current research interest is a longitudinal study of the impact of the self-assessment of governance performance in nonprofit organizations (see with Dr. Yvonne Harrison of the State University of New York at Albany.

    Yvonne D. Harrison, Ph.D.

    Yvonne Harrison is Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Administration and Policy in Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, University at Albany, SUNY. Prior to joining the Rockefeller College faculty, Yvonne was Assistant Professor in the Center for Nonprofit and Social Enterprise Management at Seattle University, Washington where she conducted nonprofit leadership research and taught courses in nonprofit governance and information management in nonprofit and government organizations.

    Dr. Harrison has expertise in the governance and leadership of nonprofit organizations and the adoption and impact of information and communications technology (ICT) in nonprofit and voluntary sector organizations. Her current research examines questions about the effectiveness of nonprofit governing boards and the impact of online board performance self-assessment on nonprofit governance and organizational effectiveness. Funding for this research comes from the following sources:

    • Institute for Nonprofit Studies, Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    • University at Albany Faculty Research Award Programs (A and B)
    • Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, University at Albany, SUNY

    Currently, she is a member of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) and Association for Nonprofit and Social Economy Research of Canada (ANSER).

    In 2002, Dr. Harrison was awarded (with John Langford), the J. E. Hodgetts Award for Best Article in Canadian Public Administration (CPA). She is the author of a number of other peer reviewed journal articles, book chapters, research reports, and publications. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a Master of Public Administration and PhD in Public Administration from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

    Reviewer’s Notes

    Review by Mike Flinton

    Dr. Vic Murray and Dr. Yvonne Harrison have created a truly unique “how-to manual” that surpasses that clichéd label and successfully developed a management and leadership tool designed to help nonprofit board members, their CEOs, and aspiring nonprofit professionals to lead in an effective and efficient manner that insures participation by all.

    This book is suitable for current board members and CEOs of nonprofit organizations in the U.S., Canada, or abroad, as well as graduate level faculty and students in the U.S. or Canada. Still others may find it helpful depending on the legal, social, and cultural environments that they and their nonprofit organizations operate in.

    Having worked as a team, and by engaging hundreds of veteran board members and their organizations, Murray and Harrison use what they refer to as a “health check-up” assessment model and methodology. Using this, they’ve created a paradigm shift that enables nonprofit leaders to identify and explore the “Symptoms,” “Diagnosis,” and “Treatment” of the illnesses most common to nonprofit organizations. Throughout the 11 chapters of this guidebook, the authors remain committed to the health check-up analogy and process, which enables those in the trenches of nonprofit organizations, as well as those in the classroom, to use the text as a highly functional analysis and remedy tool.

    Going well beyond a simple “how-to” mindset, the Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment discussions on each topic are backed up with additional information accompanied by a plethora of .org, .com, .edu, and .gov web sites and print materials supporting what these two respected educators have to offer.

    This publication can serve either as a standalone textbook or a supporting tool to the online Board Check-Up, which the authors developed before writing the guidebook. Hence, and the textbook were wisely developed for a variety of purposes and audiences.

    Whether using it as an individual tool, or accompanying the self-assessment online through Board Check-Up, whether you are directly faced with the challenges of overseeing a nonprofit organization, responsible for teaching others “how to,” or seeking to someday be a nonprofit professional yourself, you would be wise to examine this guidebook.

    Mike Flinton has over 20 years experience as a not-for-profit and higher education professional. In addition to having served as the director of the Saratoga Automobile Museum in Saratoga Springs, NY he has enjoyed being a board member and leader in a variety of organizations ranging from the Executive Service Corps of the Tri-Cities (ESCOT) to the Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region among many others.

    Before retiring from SUNY, Mike taught not-for-profit administration and management at SUNY Oneonta’s nationally recognized Cooperstown Graduate Program in Museum Studies. He has also worked at four other SUNY campuses and mentored students from Skidmore College pursuing careers in the not-for-profit sector. He has advised and supported such widely recognized organizations as the Schenectady Museum (now called MiSci), Capital District Habitat for Humanity, Historical Albany Foundation, the World Awareness Children’s Museum in Glens Falls, and Wiawaka Holiday House, a women’s retreat center in Lake George. He is a regular guest lecturer at graduate level not-for-profit administration and management classes at UAlbany.

    Before becoming a museum professional and consultant, Mike had a successful career in the United States Air Force where he lived and worked in more than a dozen countries and became involved in diverse social and public services programs, as well as history, art and cultural organizations in the U.S. and abroad.

    Mike has an MS degree in Public Administration from Central Michigan University, an MA in History from University at Alabany SUNY, a BS in Business Management & Administration from University of Maryland’s European Division and a BS in Human Resource Management from the New School of Social Research in New York City.

    Review by Hélène Cameron

    Guidelines for Improving the Effectiveness of Boards of Directors of Nonprofit Organizations will interest those who care about the governance of NPOs, especially board members, managers, and students of nonprofit organizations. The authors, Dr. Vic Murray and Dr. Yvonne Harrison, are specialists in the study of voluntary sector organizations and their deep understanding of the subject matter shows. As a practitioner with many years of experience with and on boards of nonprofit organizations, I have lived much of what is described in these guidelines. Murray and Harrison’s comprehensive yet concise and accessible treatment of what makes boards tick is dead-on. They use an effective device patterned on the health check-up to link the “symptoms” of poor board performance with a “diagnosis” and “treatment” and recommend resources to consult for a deeper understanding and practical tools. It’s all in one place... and it is readable and credible.

    The guidebook mirrors Board Check-Up, an online self-assessment tool they designed to assist in improving board performance. Each chapter deals with one of the nine effectiveness challenges faced by the board: authority and responsibilities; role in planning, performance assessment, and fundraising; structure and operating procedures, including meetings; composition and development; informal culture; and finally, leadership.

    Whether used in conjunction with the online tool or not, the guidebook should prove useful in several ways:

    • as a framework for understanding the role, structure and operation of a board within a nonprofit organization
    • as the basis for orienting novice board members to the nature and scope of their new environment
    • in identifying the action that boards might take to improve performance and the resources and tools available to assist them
    • in setting priorities for corrective action, based on an understanding of the potential impact of the assessed area and the feasibility of the remedy.

    As the authors repeatedly counsel, boards have to do their own homework and find their own fit. This guidebook should help get the job done.

    Through employment and community service, Hélène Cameron has an extensive background in non-profit governance, primarily in the areas of education and health. She gained valuable experience as the former executive director of non-profit organizations and as a volunteer and director on several non-profit boards in British Columbia. As a consultant, she has assisted several societies in the governance and strategic renewal process.


    A special thanks to Chancellor Nancy Zimpher of the State University of New York and her staff for creating a strategy and source of funding to situate and advance our work. The following grants and people behind them deserve acknowledgement:

    • 2014 Open SUNY Textbook Grant (Principal Investigators, Cyril Oberlander, Kate Pitcher, and Allison Brown);
    • 2014 Open SUNY Innovative Instructional Technology Grant (IITG) (SUNY Open Director, Lisa Stephens); and
    • 2014 University at Albany Online Teaching and Learning Grant (University at Albany Provost, Susan Phillips and Associate Provost for OTLG, Peter Shea).

    These grants will begin the process of increasing access to nonprofit management and leadership education particularly students preparing for careers in the nonprofit sector and those working in the sector who face educational barriers such as cost and time constraints. Finally, the web resources described in this book would not be possible without the research assistance and dedication of Sreyashi Chakravarty, a University at Albany, SUNY graduate student.


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