BoardSource and Points of Light are pleased to announce that George Brymer is the December 2012 Board Member of the Month. BoardSource and Points of Light created the Board Member of the Month award to honor outstanding individuals for their commitment to advancing the public good through exceptional nonprofit board leadership.
George serves on the board of Mobile Meals of Toledo. Professionally, he is president of All Square Inc., a leadership training business based in Toledo, OH.
In nominating George for the Board Member of the Month Award, Maureen Stevens, executive director of Mobile Meals of Toledo, noted the following: “George’s insightful and cutting-edge vision has propelled our agency from a solid but relatively small organization to one that is recognized as a leader in the community willing to take on new challenges…George has served on almost every committee of the board, including two years as board president, one year as past-president, and 12 years as president of our Foundation board.”
His board achievements include
- establishing the Mobile Meals Foundation, a support organization set up to ensure the organization’s long-term ability to serve the Toledo community
- securing initial funding for the Weekender Program to feed Toledo’s low-income school children over the weekend
- moving Mobile Meals from a program dependent on local hospitals for its product to a self-sufficient program with multiple vendors and food preparation and storage abilities
- changing board meeting format from committee reports to 45 minutes of in-depth discussions on topics and issues affecting the organization
Recently, BoardSource asked George a few questions about his board service:
What led you to serve on the Mobile Meals of Toledo board?
I first worked with the organization through a community leadership project with another nonprofit. Later, a friend of mine who was a member of the board and who knew of my leadership experience, invited me to join the board as its president-elect. The person who had been president-elect was leaving the community. I was a little surprised, but I did it anyway.
You served on the Mobile Meals board for three three-year terms, then left as required by the organization’s bylaws. A year later, you found yourself back on the board. What is the reason for that – is it just something that you are really passionate about?
Mobile Meals has a great mission and is really a great organization, but what I like the most is that it is constantly evolving. Every time there is a new community or organizational challenge, the board pulls together to make whatever changes we have to make. It’s fun to be part of a group that has a real can-do spirit, as opposed to one that says, ‘Woe is us, we have another obstacle to overcome.’
What does leadership mean to you?
I teach leadership, and for me, the main focus is leading in a purposeful way. In the case of Mobile Meals and other nonprofits, there is a mission statement. Leadership means staying true to mission and helping people, inspiring people, by constantly pointing them back to that mission. My leadership style as a board member is to always remind people what the mission is all about and why we’re doing what we’re doing.
What do you consider the most important quality in a nonprofit board to attract good board members?
Boards need to utilize the talent of every board member. That not only attracts good board members, but helps you retain them. If you bring people in and just let them sit there and listen to committee report after committee report, not only do they not feel part of what’s happening, they stop coming or they don’t come as often as they should. A good board provides opportunities for every member to contribute his or her expertise and knowledge, and often, good leadership is required to draw that out.
What do you consider the most important quality in a nonprofit board member?
Commitment. It takes a lot of time to be a good board member. There’s a lot of committee meetings, a lot of board meetings, and fundraisers. To do it right, you have to be willing to make a large commitment to be there when all those things happen. Financial expertise also is important – there are lots of different technical skills board members can bring — but unless they have the commitment, the board’s never going to benefit from it.
What would you say is the most important thing you have contributed to the Mobile Meals board?
I think that my legacy will be that I always challenged the status quo, that I always challenged other board members to take a second look at long-standing assumptions. It’s very easy for boards to fall into group think. It’s therefore critical that someone says, ‘Okay, but we haven’t thought of this, or what if we did it this way?’ I don’t always have the most popular idea, but it is always a second idea for people to think about. A lot of times, after a meeting, other board members will come up to me and say, ‘You said exactly what I was thinking, but I didn’t want to say it or I felt uncomfortable saying it.’ So, sometimes you just have to be a devil’s advocate. And that would be my advice to aspiring board members.
What does this award mean to you?
Well, you always wonder if you are really making a difference or not. This award kind of serves as a milestone that I am on the right road. It’s not the end of the road, because there’s still a lot of work to be done, but it does help you make sure that you are following the right path. It serves as a confirmation and as an incentive to keep working hard.
As a Board Member of the Month, George receives complimentary registrations to the BoardSource and Points of Light national conferences and a year of BoardSource membership. He also becomes a candidate for the Board Member of the Year Award, which will be announced in December 2013.
To nominate an outstanding board member for this prestigious award, click here.