Monday, August 30, 2010

Board Trainings in Utica September 1 and 2

State Board Training Consortium
Are you a nonprofit receiving funding from OASAS, DOH AIDS Institute and Center for Community Health, OMRDD, OMH or OCFS?

These state agencies, in collaboration with NYCON, have created a free Board Training program! All board members (and Executive Directors or Chief Fiscal Officers accompanied by a board member) are
welcome to attend.

The SBTC´s Achieving Excellence in Governance Training Series is intended to empower board members of affiliated nonprofits throughout the state with the information and tools necessary to carry out their very important responsibilities and obligations. Whether you are an experienced board member, or just beginning your volunteer service, on a board for a larger established agency or a newer smaller one, there is
a SBTC training that can meet your needs.

Qualifying Nonprofits are those Funded by or Affiliated
· NYS Office of Alcoholism & Substance Abuse
· NYS Office of Mental Health
· NYS Office of Mental Retardation & Developmental
· NYS Department of Health´s AIDS Institute and
Center for Community Health
· NYS Office of Children and Family Services

Questions? Please contact Jennifer Montalvo, Membership & Events Coordinator or call (800) 515-5012 ext. 126 or visit

About the State Board Training Consortium
The New York Council of Nonprofits, Inc. (NYCON) is pleased to announce the State Board Training Consortium Series. SBTC represents the continuation of an unprecedented collaborative effort of four state agencies to promote excellence in governance of the nonprofits whose programs are funded and regulated by their agencies. In many cases these nonprofits provide the substantial portion of direct care and support services to individuals and families in communities throughout New York.

Utica, NY Radisson Hotel, 200 Genesee Street
Register online now at
September 1st, 2010
Duties and Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards

September 2nd, 2010
Strategic Planning: Setting the Course for a Successful Future
Fund Development For Nonprofit Boards

Monday, August 23, 2010

Upcoming Schedule: Genesis Group

The Genesis Group
of the Mohawk Valley Region
Celebrating our 10th Anniversary

The Genesis Group welcomes more than 20,000 college students to area campuses. These students have made a decision to study here, let's welcome them and invite them to experience the good life here in the Mohawk Valley region.

College Welcome Initiative, sponsored by The Genesis Group, in cooperation with area colleges and many community partners. It is a program that invites area businesses to offer discounts to college students. For more information visit:

for these upcoming Community Events and Regional Programs:

9th Annual Regional Prayer Breakfast
Friday, September 10th - 7:30am at Hart's Hill Inn
(see separate email with invitation)

Regional Healthcare Hall of Distinction Ceremony
Tuesday, September 21st - 5:00pm at The Stanley Center for the Arts
Class of 2010: Theodore Max, MD, Joan Conboy, Keith Heinrich and William Holicky

Genesis General Meeting & Annual Media Forum
Thursday, September 23rd - 7:30am at Hotel Utica

The Genesis Group's 10th Anniversary Dinner
Wednesday October 20th - 5:30pm at Hotel Utica

5th Annual Regional Celebration of Education
Thursday November 18th - 5:00pm at Hart's Hill Inn

STRIVING 4 Success Awards Program, honoring Young Professionals & Entrepreneurs
(new date and time to be announced)

Regional Community Pride Luncheon
(location and more details to be announced)

The Genesis Group
100 Seymour Road
Utica, NY 13502
315.797.1280 fax

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Nonprofit Request: Board Member Need

Samaritan Counseling of the Mohawk Valley, Inc. (SCC) is looking for a board member with with a financial background (CFO, accountant, etc.).

For over 30 years, "The Samaritan Counseling Center of the Mohawk Valley, Inc., is an interfaith organization committed to a unique concern for the spiritual dimension of human life. Our mission is to offer high quality psychotherapy and pastoral counseling to individuals, couples, and families. Our interdiscipinary staff is trained to assist persons who seek relief from suffering and help them bring new healing and hope to their lives."

Board members benefit from a very committed and active board constituency with great community support and staff dedication. To maintain accreditation standards and to ensure best financial practice, we are asking for a committed member of the financial professional community to join our mission.

Please share any suggestions with Greg Kovacs, Executive Director, by e-mail at

October 6th Program is ED and the Board Working Together: Keys to Success

Special Panel Discussion
The panel will feature 5 panelists, and includes the following confirmed participants:

•Jan Forte, Homeownership Center
•Kelly Blazosky, Oneida County Tourism
•Peggy O’Shea, The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties, Inc.

The program will focus on the relationship between the Executive Director and their board of directors, including the role of the ED and how he or she supports and works with the board. The Mohawk Valley Nonprofit Leaders Group encourages area Executive Directors to attend with a board officer.

Potential questions for panel:
o What is EDs responsibility for board development?
o What is/how do you define the relationship between the board and ED?
o What are the ethics and issues regarding developing a board focused on mission or community politics?
o How do you keep reinforcing mission and focus of board?
o How do you (and who) set board expectations, get commitment, and monitor/facilitate them?
o How do you communicate and convey obligations and other related info to the board and make them understand?
o How do you plan education for the board?
o How do you clarify and emphasize the importance of conflict of interests and priority issues for the board?
o How much involvement should board members have in daily activities?


Date: Wed, October 6th
12:00pm- Lunch
12:30pm to 2:00pm- Program Panel
Cost: To be announced (lunch fee)
Location: Utica Public Library
303 Genesee Street
Utica, NY
(315) 735-2279

Monday, August 16, 2010

Utica schools may set up foundation to raise funds

The OD reported that at a time when state aid is being cut, city school officials are hoping to open up a new avenue for revenue to the school district.

The district will start up a nonprofit education foundation for fundraising in the community.

A spearheading meeting to begin to establish the foundation and search for a board of directors is scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday at the new district administration building, 106 Memorial Parkway.

“This foundation will look at those needs we have for certain programs and get things accomplished that we don’t have the money to do,” Superintendent James Willis said. “They will organize and coordinate fundraising in the community and hopefully we will be able to benefit from an untapped resource.”

The group would oversee an account that already has $560,000 in it that was raised several years ago for a high school stadium project.

The meeting is open to the public.

Willis said he wants community members to come and give their input into who they believe would be the best fit for the board of directors.

“We are looking for people who have a large influence in the community and region,” Willis said. “They would be point people for fundraising — people with pull who can lend their name to fundraising.”

Creating a fundraising foundation has been discussed in the district for about a year.

Willis has pushed the idea more as the district has been faced with dwindling state aid.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Training Program Prepares Nonprofit Board Leaders

The Oneida County Courier reported:

There are more than 700 not-for-profit organizations in Herkimer and Oneida counties. They provide much-needed programs and services – such as child care, education and health care – and employ thousands of people in these two counties. These organizations take their various missions and their commitment to the community very seriously. In turn, three local organizations have collaboratively offered training designed to strengthen and support not-for-profit boards.

For the past three years, the local Partnership for Nonprofit Leadership Enterprise Excellence has supported and strengthened area not-for-profits through its Board Leadership Seminar series. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties, and United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica Area have partnered to offer this training to educate board chairs and chairs-elect so that they can effectively and ethically govern the policies and practices of their organizations.

Accountability and professionalism from not-for-profit organizations are ever more expected as technology continues to evolve, thanks to Internet and smart phone developments which allow us to access information instantaneously. Websites such as Guidestar make researching not-for-profits easy, and many people go online to gather information before becoming involved with an organization. Furthermore, laws governing charities change with some regularity in order to meet the needs of the times. The policies and procedures at the core of not-for-profits must be able to meet these new expectations and comply with new and amended rules, and the direction for this comes from the board of directors.

The program, which is free of cost, consists of a series of seminars designed for board chairs and chairs-elect. Over an eight-month period, participants explore a number of governance topics with their peers and experts in the various subject areas. The syllabus is designed to provide them with the knowledge and tools that allow them to more effectively lead their boards, and includes such topics as strategic planning, fund development, finance and the working relationships between the board chair and directors and the board chair and the organization’s leader.

Two board members from The Peacemaker Program, Inc. in Utica took part in this training. Executive Director Brenda Episcopo noted, “First, it helps to keep our agency keep up to speed on new rules and regulations governing nonprofits. Board participants bring back professional and sound information to the full board for discussion and application. Second, it provides board leaders with a forum to learn the ins-and-outs of board responsibilities in a neutral and supportive setting. Finally – and most importantly – for a small nonprofit such as The Peacemaker Program, Inc., the fact that this top-notch program is offered at no charge goes a long way in ensuring the sustainability of the organization, far beyond what our training budget would allow. I appreciate the opportunity to have my board members engaged in such a great initiative.”

Local attorney F.X. Matt III has also participated in the program. “The sessions provide a comprehensive review of the leadership, governance, financial, accounting and fund-raising challenges facing the not-for-profit community.” said Matt. “Regardless of your experience as a nonprofit board member, there is a great deal to be learned from the sessions’ interesting and topical presentations and from the engaging discussions which follow.”

2010 marks the third year this series has been offered in Utica; it began in Rochester in 2003 and expanded to Syracuse in 2005. The 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 classes each had 10 participants while 2009-2010 had 13 take part. Many of the participants not only serve on not-for-profit boards, but are also employed by not-for-profit organizations. Therefore, this training provides them with insight that they can also apply in the workplace.

The sessions will take place on a Wednesday once a month, from 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 a.m. at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, 12 Rhoads Drive, Utica, New York. For an application, please call Excellus BCBS at (315) 798-4303. The deadline for completed applications is Friday August 20, 2010.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

MVLA August General Membership Meeting

Who: The Mohawk Valley Latino Association, Inc. (MVLA)
What: Junta General de Miembros/ General Membership Meeting ~ 2010
Where: MVLA Office Site, 309 Genesee St, 2nd Floor, Utica, NY
When: Sabado, 07 de Agosto / Saturday, August 07, 2010
Time: 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM

We encourage your attendance and participation. Please feel free to bring a friend or family member along. Our meetings are informational, full of energy, ideas, and most importantly very beneficial to the Latino community.

Contact Information:
Mohawk Valley Latino Association, Inc.
309 Genesee Street (Park Ave. Entrance) 3rd Floor, Utica, NY
(315)738-1083 ext. 121 or 147

RSVP by: Friday, August 6, 2010

MVLA, Inc. Mission Statement:

To improve the standard of living for all residents of the Mohawk Valley through various services that will educate, empower, achieve awareness among

Different cultures, help shape young minds, and demonstrate the great opportunities available within the Mohawk Valley.

2010-2012 Executive Board
Sonia Martinez, Chairman / President
Kay Lanaux, Interim Treasurer
Marabella Colón, Executive Secretary
Elizabeth Jimenez, Member-At-Large
Cira Foster, Member-At-Large
LaToya Richardson, Member-At-Large
Tim Trent, Board Advisor
501(c) 3 Non-Profit Organization

Mohawk Valley Latino, Inc.
309 Genesee Street, 3rd Floor
Utica, NY 13501
315/738-1083, X121 or 147
Motivation * Vision * Latin Pride * Attitude
Motivacion * Vision * Orgullo Latino * Actitud

Mohawk Valley Nonprofit Leaders Group Steering Committee Meeting August 2nd

Participants: Kevin Marken, Stanley Center for the Arts; Beth Irons, Utica Zoo; Cassandra Sheets, Mohawk Valley Council of Alcoholism/Addictions; Mary Stronach, MAMI Interpreters; Darby O'Brien, Utica Library; Jeff Owen, USC The Business College; Tim Trent, Future Development

Discussed proposed program set for September 8th, now rescheduled for October 6th
• Location will be the Utica Public Library from 12pm to 2pm
• Board focused info/training and discussion for EDs
• Invite ED and one board officer to attend
• Panel approach with facilitator and opportunity for questions and discussion
o Facilitator will be Kevin Marken

o Proposed panel
 Ann Rushlo, Leadership Mohawk Valley
• Tim will approach
 Jan Forte, Homeownership Center
• Darby will approach
 Kelly Blazosky, Oneida County Tourism
• Beth will approach
 Peggy O’Shea, The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties, Inc.
• Beth will approach
 Larry Gilroy, board member (multiple boards)
• Tim will approach
 Other possible panelist if needed
• Keith Fenstamacher

• Potential questions for panel:
o What is EDs responsibility for board development?
o What is/how do you define the relationship between the board and ED?
o What are the ethics and issues regarding developing a board focused on mission or community politics?
o How do you keep reinforcing mission and focus of board?
o How do you (and who) set board expectations, get commitment, and monitor/facilitate them?
o How do you communicate and convey obligations and other related info to the board and make them understand?
o How do you plan education for the board?
o How do you clarify and emphasize the importance of conflict of interests and priority issues for the board?
o How much involvement should board members have in daily activities?

• Next Steering Committee meeting will be on Oct 4th 9am at Stanley.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The OD Offers View: Board’s duty to keep eye on finances

The Utica OD offered a very relevant viewpoint for any board member, whether municipal or nonprofit, should take into account:

It is truly chilling to learn that an amount equal to one-third of the Fairfield town budget could be misappropriated over time without anyone noticing.

A similar situation occurred just a short while ago when it was discovered that the town of New Hartford’s reserve had been depleted by $2.8 million – again, without anyone noticing.

We expect police to patrol our streets and deter crime. We expect public health officials to identify early outbreaks of disease. We expect teachers to educate our children.

Most certainly, those people elected and/or appointed to serve in key leadership roles must monitor a government’s or organization’s finances.

The story has been repeated across the Mohawk Valley and elsewhere, and not just in municipal governments like Fairfield and New Hartford, but also at nonprofit agencies, where private and public funds have been misappropriated or mishandled.

These incidents raise the very real specter that financial oversight is sorely lacking in the public and nonprofit sectors, and that malfeasance and waste are far more common than we’d like to believe.

Take Fairfield. In a town of just 1,607 people, a whopping $378,000 disappeared between 2005 and 2009. The current town supervisor now estimates additional costs of $800,000 or more, factoring in fines for missed reports and expense to borrow money to make up for the missing funds. The former town supervisor’s wife, Randi Matthews, has been charged with embezzlement and her case is in the courts, but the state Comptroller’s Office audit makes it quite clear that the Town Board members did not do their job. No one studied financial reports closely enough, and no one reconciled the financial statements with bank records, which would have been an immediate tipoff to problems.

The lessons here, for anyone serving on a board, are simple:

• Become familiar with financial statements. Talk to the treasurer, or the auditor, and educate yourself on financial statements, and what to look for.

• Ask questions when reviewing monthly financials. This is a critical responsibility of every board member. Look closely at the numbers, ask yourself if they make sense, and if anything looks amiss, refuse to approve the financial reports without a clear accounting.

• Insist on an annual independent audit. A good auditor is going to smoke out questionable financial practices, usually by finding irregularities when reconciling financial statements with checks or vouchers.

Review the audit report carefully.

• Rely on appropriate experts for advice. These would be the state Comptroller’s Office in the case of governments and the state Attorney General’s Office in the case of nonprofit agencies and charities.

• Blow the whistle at even the smallest signs of trouble. Remember, your responsibility is to the government, the agency, the taxpayers or the stakeholders, not to the individual people running the government or agency. Silence allows incompetence or malfeasance to flourish.

None of this is complicated, if the proper procedures are followed regularly. Remember, the person who’s absconding with the funds is almost always a trusted member of a government’s or agency’s inner circle. To ensure that funds are managed properly, board members should recall the apt words of President Reagan: Trust, but verify.

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