RUPCO Board accepts $10k Big Check for Excellence in Governance workThe Board of Directors at RUPCO, affordable housing advocate and innovative community developer in the Hudson Valley, received $10,000 last week for its completion of the NeighborWorks America (NWA) Excellence in Governance Program. NWA President & CEO Paul Weech and the Board’s personal coach Carilee Warner presented the check and commemorative tile awards to key board members at RUPCO’s 35th anniversary celebration, Community Lunch, on October 13.

The NeighborWorks Excellence in Governance program is an 18-month board leadership development intensive designed to help boards create lasting, adaptive change and transform from responsible to exceptional. “Our Board of Directors is dedicated, passionate and, now with this training, empowered to take our organization to the next level,” notes Kevin O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer at RUPCO. “We look to them for leadership, direction and commitment as we move into our next 35 years of creating homes, supporting people and improving communities.”

RUPCO is one of 16 Class of 2016 graduates and joins 40 other affiliates as Excellence in Governance Program alumni. NeighborWorks America directly supports a network of more than 240 nonprofit organizations with technical assistance, grants and training for more than 12,000 professionals in the affordable housing and community development field every year. RUPCO is a Charter Member of NeighborWorks and CEO Kevin O’Connor was recognized as NeighborWorks’ Practitioner of the Year in 2013.

“RUPCO’s team worked one-on-one with Coach Carilee Warner to develop performance challenges and areas for improvement and focus,” added O’Connor. “Using a performance-based framework paired with governance principles, the Board assessed their current level of engagement, set goals, defined success, and measured effectiveness.” The Excellence in Governance Program enhances governance through changing behaviors, strengthening ways of doing business for the long term, as well as enhancing the culture of the board.

“Five board members took on the leadership challenge,” noted O’Connor. ‘This was a huge time commitment from this team. They worked with Coach Carilee, attended three weekend in-person trainings, and then reported back and received input from RUPCO’s full board of directors at a board retreat. The goal was to focus on important existing work rather than to create new work. The leadership training lasted 18 months and NeighborWorks will circle back with our group in 18-24 months to assess our progress, find out what habits we’ve held onto, and how our Board is working with our broader constituent base and partners.”

The Board plans to use the Excellence in Governance award check to seed a new homeowner restoration fund in honor of Lisa Schatzel, a former RUPCO board member who passed away earlier this year. Lisa dedicated her life at Ulster Savings Bank to orchestrating mortgages for first-time homebuyers; this fund would help fund post-closing repairs and renovations.

According to the NeighborWorks America website, “training and additional governance experts help board members learn and apply concepts on:

  • building constructive partnerships and an engaging board culture
  • fostering functional and social inclusion
  • sustaining organizational resources
  • becoming ambassadors beyond the board room
  • creating lasting, adaptive change”

(Pictured are past-chair James B. Childs, Secretary Leah Gherardi, current board chair Catherine Maloney and RUPCO Chief Executive Officer Kevin O’Connor. Other Excellence in Governance Program team members were Christopher Marx and Patrick Paul. RUPCO’s complete board member list is captured below.)

RUPCO Board of Directors: Catherine A. Maloney (Chairperson), Christopher J. Marx (Vice-Chairperson), Henry Gleich (Treasurer), Leah Gherardi (Secretary), James B. Childs, Renee Darmstadt, Karen Winkle-Gorsline, Richard Heese, Joan Lonergan, Adam Mandell

Advisory Council Members: Thomas A. Collins, Peter M. Frank, John Mizerak, Patrick Paul, Constance Snyder