On The Board and In The Spotlight: Rhett Baughman

by Robin Hanson

Q: How long have you served on this board?
A: One and half years

What drew you to this organization?
A: I was drawn to YNPN Phoenix because of their impact on young professionals’ lives and their desire to affect change in the social sector.

Q: What would you say is one of the biggest challenges for a young professional serving on a nonprofit board?
A: Lack of experience. You have to start somewhere, so finding a nonprofit with whose values you align and who is looking for your skillset is the first hurdle. Then, once you land a position, it’s wading through all the standard board procedures and processes with which you’re simply not familiar. Organizations like the Alliance offer tremendous training to help prepare young professionals for board service. Then you have to jump in, acknowledge you will have areas of ignorance, identify and bring your strengths to the table, and — I can’t stress this one enough — follow through on your commitments. Whether a governance or working board, the nonprofit is relying on you to show up and deliver.

Q: How did you overcome that challenge?
A: I had a few bad board experiences with other organizations because I didn’t prepare myself with research and training. I had to learn all the basics, plus get in the groove of delivering while not overcommitting. I overcame this by taking ownership of my professional development and board understanding. Doing simple things like researching how Robert’s Rules of Order work, how different types of boards operate, and familiarizing yourself with the industry you’re serving (if you happen to not be familiar already) will go a long way for the organization, staff and other board members.

Q: What has been the biggest opportunity from this experience?
A: Honestly, the biggest opportunity was meeting other incredible people in the business community who had similar interests and passions as me. I’ve created some wonderful relationships and friendships that have doubled as a benefit to my current company and other organizations I support.

Q: What do you wish you had known before joining the board?
A: I wish I had taken the time to research and have conversations with other board members to understand the role I needed to fill to be most valuable and the skills that would be most beneficial.

Q: What do you feel your greatest accomplishment has been during your time on the board?
A: We’ve accomplished so many great things as a team, such as setting a new, sustainable strategic direction and implementing replicable processes and procedures. However, my personal accomplishment has been in my own professional development. The skills I’m learning by serving on the board have had a positive impact on my role with NSA.

Q: What would you say to another young professional considering joining a nonprofit board?
A: Take ownership. Whether that’s seeking out a nonprofit and seeing if they have any gaps on their board for which your skillset would be a match, or volunteering with a few organizations by serving on committees to get to know them better. From seeking to serving, you’ll bring greater value and have better success when you own your actions and contributions.

Name: Rhette Baughman
Company: National Speakers Association (NSA)
Job Title: Director, Marketing & Communication
Board: YNPN Phoenix (Young Nonprofit Professionals Network)
Board Title: Vice President

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