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Consultant Spotlight: Susan Chapman, Governance, Communications and Events Expert

Board Governance

April 4, 2019

Our first consultant spotlight is one of our experts in communications, fund development, and governance, Susan Chapman. Susan has 27 years of experience in these areas and has worked with many organizations in the Nashville area such as Exchange Club Family Center and the University School of Nashville. We were fortunate to hear from Susan about her experience as a CNM consultant and the insight that she has gained from her consulting experience with us.

Susan had the opportunity to work with CNM for many years as a client and became familiar with the expert work of CNM consultants through this experience. CNM’s focus on creating workable solutions to problems using a strategic perspective interested her in joining the team of consultants herself. Susan writes that she has enjoyed the opportunity that CNM has provided her to “work with a diverse group of clients.” With CNM’s client base of (# of members) members, CNM consultants get the opportunity to apply their expertise to a variety of organizations each with a diverse set of problems.

Susan coins herself as a “governance ‘geek’” who believes in the power of smart governance practices. She has gained a lot of satisfaction from watching “aha” moments occur among board chairs and executive directors as they discover the ways to make their nonprofit board function more efficiently and effectively. As aforementioned, a highlight working with CNM has been experiencing a diverse set of nonprofits and learning about the different challenges that organizations face. While these problems fall under the overarching category of board and governance issues, the root cause and manifestation looks very different across organizations. Susan writes that working alongside CNM’s clients, “has opened my eyes to the depth of challenges that they face.” Getting to the root of these issue takes a skilled questioner and expert like Susan who knows that “there is no one size fits all solution.”

In addition to this diverse client base, CNM’s emphasis on collaboration sets our consulting team apart from other consulting experiences. Susan highlights the unique collaborative nature that the CNM staff and consultant experts emphasize. Collaboration is one of CNM staff’s core values, and is a large part of all areas of CNM’s work, including consulting. While it is common for nonprofit consultants to work alone, Susan emphasized that CNM has allowed her to “work with some great consultants to combine our expertise in order to more efficiently serve clients.”

Interested in working with a consultant like Susan? Check out more information on beginning a consulting engagement here and familiarize yourself with our list of experts here.

Have further questions or interested in becoming a CNM consultant? Email consulting@cnm.org.


Why were you interested in joining CNM’s consulting team?

I worked with CNM for many years on the client side. I always respected and appreciated the work their consultants did to help us move forward and solve problems from a strategic perspective. Joining CNM’s team has allowed me to work with a diverse group of clients. Each client has specific challenges and I enjoy working with them to create workable solutions.

What has been one of your highlights of working with a CNM client and why?

I am a governance “geek” and believe that smart governance practices are the key to a well-functioning nonprofit board.  Seeing the “aha” moments as board chairs and executive directors learn how to make their boards work more efficiently and effectively has been a highlight for me.

How have you seen yourself grow during your time as a CNM consultant?

Most definitely. Working with so many different nonprofits has opened my eyes to the depth of challenges that they face. While they may all label it “board issues”, the challenges can run very deep. I have learned to ask a lot of questions to get at the root of the issues. There is no one size fits all solution.

How has being a part of CNM’s team differed from other consulting experiences?

I love collaborative work and have been fortunate to work with some great consultants to combine our expertise in order to more efficiently serve clients. Consultants often work solo, but CNM has provided me with many opportunities to work with others. I enjoy the strategy and brainstorming.

What insight have you gained during your time as a CNM consultant?

I have learned that many nonprofits do not have high-functioning boards! (Not sure if you should print this anywhere.)