Board Development

“I really enjoyed your presentation style. I felt very confident that you were speaking to us directly versus a canned presentation and that the material presented and the answers given came from a true expert in the field. Thanks for your contribution to making us a better board and STMC a better place.”

Ben Hieltjes,
Chair, Board of Directors
St Thomas More Collegiate, Vancouver BC


Sample Situation: School A’s board has highly competent and committed members, but board meetings are marathons that have become burdensome for members and unproductive for the school.  While there is plenty of criticism to go around, the board can’t focus on a process for solving the problem, so it contracts with MfM to help.

Solution: Jack Peterson consults for 3 hours with the chair of the board and the school head to do some preliminary root cause analysis, then meets with the board for 1 afternoon to hear their concerns and ideas.  He prepares a set of recommendations which he first presents to the board chair and school president in a 1.5 hour teleconference, and then meets with them the morning prior to presenting it to the full board at their afternoon meeting.  After the board adopts the recommendations, he continues to coach the chair and the president, for about 3 hours altogether, then meets once more with the full board to evaluate progress and address any outstanding issues.


Sample Situation: School B, which is sponsored by a religious order, has begun transitioning to a two-tiered board structure with a board of corporate members comprised only of members of the order, who retain ultimate authority for the school as a ministry, and a local board of trustees with both lay and ordained trustees that has governance responsibility.  In the course of the transition, conflict arises among the new trustees about their role in directing the school.  The divergence of visions and expectations among trustees is undermining its ability to govern the school effectively.

Solution: The school has MfM’s Jack Peterson design and execute a facilitation process based on the order’s own discernment practices and values.  Jack conferences for 2 hours with the board chair and the president of the school and spends 2 days on campus to interview the trustees and other stakeholders and meet again with the chair and president.  On the second day he leads a discernment session with the whole board to resolve the divisive issues and help it formulate the processes it needs to function effectively.  He provides 3 hours of follow-up with the chair and president and is available for a follow-up facilitation as needed.


Sample Situation: At School C the principal is the chief administrator and the board has recently appointed someone to the position who has great administrative experience in education and a life-long commitment to the faith-based values of the school, but has limited experience working with a board.  As a result, sometimes the principal feels like the board is trying to get too involved in administrative issues, and at other times they are not attending meetings and staying engaged in the work of governance.  As a result he finds that he is spending a lot of time dealing with board members, but not getting the support he needs.

Solution: The school asks MfM to provide training for the principal in board management.  Jack Peterson interviews the principal on 2 occasions for an 1.5 hours each.  He also interviews the board chair and 3 other board members for 1 hour each.  He then comes to the school to conduct a 1 day, custom-designed workshop with the president on board management.  Jack provides 5 additional hours of remote coaching, with an option for additional site visits.


Sample Situation: School X is a Jesuit high school which in the last five years has experienced transitions in leadership, both on the board and the administration.  During that time lay members of the board are becoming increasingly responsible for the ongoing Jesuit charism of the school.  In general they value that charism as what attracted them to the school, but, even after inspiring retreats given by the Jesuits of the province, they are struggling with how to incorporate Ignatian spirituality into their work on the board.

Solution: The board asks MfM to lead it in an all day retreat patterned on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, but linked to their specific responsibilities for the spiritual, educational, human and financial well-being of the school.  Jack Peterson meets for 2 hours with the board’s Ignatian Identity Committee to identify the needs and design a retreat around those needs.  He comes to campus the afternoon before the retreat, meets with the board chair and the president, and the next day leads an all-day retreat with the entire board at an off-campus location.


Sample Situation: MfM has been consulting with School Y, a non-denominational Christian school, for over a year on various management issues.  In the course of the work it is determined that the board needs to spend some time in a retreat discussing its Christ-centered mission, the board’s vision for the school and planning its strategy as a board for pursuing that vision.

Solution: Much of the planning for this retreat has come out of the previous consulting work with MfM, so Jack Peterson needs only a 1 hour conference with the chair and the president to finalize the retreat design.  He then comes to the school and leads the board through a one day goal-setting process.  Because Jack is doing other ongoing consulting with the school, no additional follow-ups need to be scheduled.