Wendy Irvin joins Rotary Charities Board of Trustees
by Miriam Owsley, Strategic Communications Manager
Please join us in welcoming Wendy Irvin to the Rotary Charities Board of Trustees! Wendy is the CEO of Habitat for Humanity Grand Traverse Region, and brings 30 years of nonprofit and advocacy experience and a passion for service. Wendy shared with us some of the best advice that has guided her career and volunteerism, and what makes a great board member.
Leadership takes practice! Share these opportunities with your board members.
Rotary Charities: What experiences have helped you define your career and volunteer path? What motivates you?
Wendy Irvin: My (30-year) nonprofit career has been largely focused on the needs of the lower-income or at-risk population including advocating for universal pre-k and higher wages for child care workers, services for older adults, and currently at Habitat, affordable workforce housing. I covered a wide spectrum of what makes a community strong. It inspires me to see the impact of economic development and enhance the quality of life for all residents. That motivates me to try to do more and do better.
I have been blessed with strong mentors whose advice and guidance have helped shape my career. From an early age, the importance of volunteering and contributing to my community was instilled in me. I began volunteering through the United Way and local service clubs and donating to Goodwill. Those experiences stayed with me. They were meaningful.
I am also motivated by members of our community - This region is full of do-gooders! Everyone has something to contribute and there is a volunteer opportunity for everyone!
What about Rotary Charities’ work most resonates with you?
Rotary Charities’ vision of “communities that are adaptive and thriving for everyone.” As a community, we need to be inclusive and mindful of opportunities that empower people to have strength, stability and self-reliance. I am excited to take this position on the board of trustees to represent to our community the work that Rotary Charities does to achieve this vision.
Rotary Charities provides valuable support to our region. Many years ago, Habitat for Humanity GTR received a 3-year capacity-building grant that provided us with the tools we needed to take the affiliate to the next level. Beyond the funding, Rotary Charities was a true partner. Later, Rotary Charities transitioned toward systems thinking, encouraging grantees to work collaboratively with our peers to get to the core root of a problem. I felt like that was a positive step toward deeper impact in our community. When COVID hit and we needed to scale down to a skeleton crew, I received an email asking what Rotary Charities could do to help Habitat. That connection told me we were not alone. Their team put words into action by offering training and resources to all nonprofits.
In your opinion, what can board members do to best serve their organization and community?
Be engaged and passionate about the organization's work. Similar to building a team, I look for individuals with certain areas of expertise that they can contribute to help strengthen the organization and its leadership.
Be a champion for the mission and engage others. A varied board with diverse perspectives can actually be healthy when you can work well with each other and are open to alternative viewpoints. Finally, make a commitment and persevere through tough times for the organization. Those are the types of leaders that have helped our organization become stronger.
What is the best piece of advice you have received, as it relates to volunteerism or board service? What would you tell someone who is seeking to serve on a board?
I had a mentor who advised me, “pick your top three skills” and this has guided the way I work over the years. Be honest and transparent about what you can do well, and allow others to fill in around you, giving credit where credit is due. This kind of self-awareness takes a long time to develop, but be authentic. When you have the mindset of “this is where I need to be”, we can accomplish so much!
I would advise someone thinking about taking on a leadership role or board position to think about their personal passion, look at their experiences and skill set, and ask: Where can I be of best use?
I waited to join a board until I knew I had the time to commit. I wouldn’t want to tell people to wait to share what they have to offer, but it’s important to find something that fits your schedule and feeds your passion. Everyone has something to offer, and there is always an opportunity to volunteer your time, talent, and passion. Please do what you can to engage in the community - we will be stronger for it!
This four-hour session is designed for people interested in board service or those looking to strengthen and refresh their knowledge and skills, as well as to help executive directors more effectively work with their boards.
Following the session, participants will be able to:
Individual Price: $99
- Demonstrate an understanding of the core functions, legal and other responsibilities of a nonprofit board of directors.
- Understand governance structures and how to apply them.
- Identify common challenges and related strategies facing nonprofit boards.
How to be an Effective Board Member
December 2, 2021 | 4:30-7:30pm | Virtual
This workshop offers guidance on the primary responsibilities for those currently serving on or planning to serve on nonprofit boards. Designed as an engaging experience, participants, regardless of experience, will become more knowledgeable about how the best boards operate, what is to be expected of board members, and how to become more strategic organizational leaders.
Price: $5 per person, thanks to support from the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area and the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation.
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