Magazine article Black Enterprise

Board Certified: Nonprofit Service Can Help Prepare You for Corporate Appointments. (Making Connections)

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Board Certified: Nonprofit Service Can Help Prepare You for Corporate Appointments. (Making Connections)

Article excerpt

Aside from being a career highpoint, landing a seat on a corporate board is an excellent opportunity to meet and network with high-level executives and industry leaders. Board members can also earn anywhere from $45,000 to $150,000 a year in cash and stock.

They are expected to help companies meet their financial goals and satisfy shareholders, so those looking for the opportunity should possess certain skills, such as having high-level corporate financial experience and expertise specific to a company's needs. One way to get the necessary experience is to become a board member for a nonprofit organization. Nonprofits, some of which are required by law to have a board of directors, can run the gamut in terms of who they service, from international relief organizations, such as the Red Cross, to civil rights advocacy groups and professional organizations.

That's where 59-year-old James Kaiser started. In 1982 Kaiser was elected to his first nonprofit board at Corning Hospital while working as a business manager for Corning Inc. in New York. Four years later he became a board member of the Washington, D.C.-based Executive Leadership Council, a nonprofit organization of African American executives. Since becoming an ELC board member, Kaiser says he has developed into an effective fund-raiser and gained tremendous contacts. He is presently chairman and CEO of his own company, Avenir Partners Inc., a Lexus automobile franchise in Memphis, Tennessee.

Kaiser, who retired from Corning in 1996 after a distinguished 30-year career, says sitting on a nonprofit board is a great way to learn how they are run.

As a result of his nonprofit board position, Kaiser was tapped for his first corporate board position at DowCorning. He now sits on the boards of Sunoco Inc. and MeadWestvaco.

Judy Smith, a principal with the management consultant firm Booz Allen Hamilton in McLean, Virginia, uses her financial expertise to help The Women's Center in Vienna, Virginia. …

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