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Do you consider it a conflict of interest for the executive director to also serve on the board?

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Do you consider it a conflict of interest for the executive director to also serve on the board?

Do you consider it a conflict of interest for the executive director to also serve on the board?

I don't think it is an automatic, insurmountable conflict for the CEO to serve on the board.  Business certainly doesn't think so, and although that is not always the standard (See Ready Reference Page: “A Corporate Mentality in Charity Boardrooms? Hey, Bring It On”), it is at least relevant to the consideration.  The dual role can create a conflict on certain issues, but everyone has the potential for conflict, and conflicts can usually be resolved by disclosure and recusals.  

I don't think it makes a lot of difference in most cases.  If the founder is CEO, the founder ought to be on the board.  In some large organizations, or in advocacy organizations, the CEO is so significant in the public image that the CEO should be on the board.  I think it depends on the organization.  In most cases, the CEO does not serve on the board, but there is no one-size-fits-all in nonprofits, and I have never been particularly exercised by this issue.

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Don -
Would your answer change if the CEO serves as Chairman of the Board?

If the CEO is the founder of the organization, I would not have a problem with the CEO being board chair.  It goes to my favorite question of "whose organization is it?"  With founders, I am willing to give latitude because it is often their energy and vision that are the driving force of the organization.   Generally, however, I think it is better to have a separate board chair because the duties are different and it is usually better to have a team approach to management.

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