Linda Jacobs Davis
Chief executive officer
Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership, 555 Northgate Dr., San Rafael 94903, 415-479-5710, cvnl.org
Professional background: Chief executive officer, Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership, August 2002–present; chief executive officer, Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce, February 1996–July 2002; director of development and public affairs, Planned Parenthood of Marin, Sonoma & Mendocino, April 1994–February 1996; development director, Marin Child Care Council; owner, Mantagaris Gallaries, San Francisco, September 1989–December 1992; assistant executive director, The Breakthrough Foundation, San Francisco, September 1982–September 1989
Education (degrees or certifications, institution or organization bestowing them): BFA, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida; Graduate, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Organization Management, University of San Diego
Staff: 14 staff, three interns and thousands of volunteers
Describe your organization: Celebrating 50 years in 2014, the national award-winning Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership has worked to develop transformational leaders, engage the community in service and increase the capacity of nonprofits to carry out their missions.
While the Center focuses its efforts on Marin’s nearly 1,800 nonprofits, our consulting, executive search and leadership programs serve the entire Bay Area. The Center offers education and training programs on the business of nonprofits, peer learning and leadership development and is a resource hub for the nonprofit sector by researching and disseminating best practices. Though consulting and executive search and transition services the Center meets the unique needs of boards of directors and chief executive officers.
The Volunteer Center programs provide easy access to meaningful volunteer opportunities for individuals, families, and businesses, serving over 2,300 hours annually. Volunteer programs are available for youth, older adults and skilled volunteers with engagement that includes one-time flex assignments to board service.
The center also hosts two signature community events: Heart of Marin, a tribute to outstanding nonprofits and the volunteers who serve them; and the Marin Human Race, a community fundraiser that benefits over 110 nonprofits and schools.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I have worked in the nonprofit sector my entire career except for a few years during college and when I owned and operated an art gallery in San Francisco. I didn’t know what it meant to be in the nonprofit sector, I just knew that I wanted to do work that addresses social issues and that helps alleviate human suffering, making the communities we live in better and fair. I am a serious SF Giants fan, watching, going to or listening to all of the games and also listening to sports radio.
I enjoy walking and hiking, time with my family and dog, going to art shows when I can, watching CNN and having quiet time at home. I am a fanatic about things being organized and so I spend too much time cleaning, arranging and making sure things are where I want them. I love antique stores, being in new places and history. If I ever finish a ‘non-business’ book it is usually a biography of some important politician or civic leader.
What achievement are you most proud of?: In partnership with my husband, raising our two sons to be conscientious and service-oriented. We instilled in them and modeled the importance of values: integrity, empathy, compassion, ethical behavior, mitzvoth (doing good deeds) and tzedakah (charity).
What is your biggest challenge today?: Remaining positive, relevant, innovative and inspired in a competitive marketplace and hiring and retaining good employees.
What is the next major project either under way or on the horizon?: The 50th anniversary gala event is April 5, 2014. Publication of the five-year update to the Marin Nonprofit Landscape Study and a branding and messaging refresh for the organization are in progress.
What product or service would/or is helping you do your job more effectively?: A more efficient way to manage human resource issues and an affordable option to bridge database technology would help a lot.
How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?: I think (the sector) it will continue to grow — more nonprofits due to reduced services by federal, state and local government. My preference would be for some of us to go out of business or merge because we have solved the important issue or mission that we were created for.
My hope and dream is that the nonprofit sector will be respected more and that leaders will professionalize the field, paying fair wages, offering benefits and staying relevant by bringing in new, young entrepreneurs.
Most admired businessperson outside your organization: Oprah Winfrey
Current reading: I read many management books at the same time, currently: The Crowd Sourced Performance Review, Little Bets, and Nonprofit Sustainability-Making Strategic Decisions for Financial Viability
Other than business and leadership books I sometimes read biographies or inspiration, currently: Edward Kennedy-True Compass; A Good Man Rediscovering My Father Sargent Shriver and Perseverance
Most want to meet: Bill and Hillary Clinton, Giants closer Sergio Romo, Anderson Cooper, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks, Jane Goodall, Bill Maher and Jack Kevorkian
Stress-relievers: Blasting ’70s music in my car.
Favorite hobbies: Watching San Francisco Giants, or reading or listening to news about them
Words that best describe you: Leader, charismatic, enthusiastic, maternal, mentor, compassionate, flexible, resourceful, open-minded, thoughtful.
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