Jane Greenman, Esq., an NESC Board member, became President of NESC effective April 1, 2014. She is an attorney, having been a partner in the law firm of Hughes Hubbard & Reed and Deputy General Counsel of Honeywell International, as well as a Senior Human Resources Executive at Tyco International, Barr Pharmaceuticals and CommVault Systems. She is a graduate of Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations and holds a J.D. and L.L.M. from New York University School of Law.
Learn more about her in the latest interview below.
Jane, what are NESC’s greatest strengths and most distinctive features?
Our experienced and dedicated pool of volunteer consultants is the core of our strength as an organization serving the nonprofit community. We provide consulting services to all types of nonprofit organizations. Organization, management and board effectiveness are key area in which we help nonprofits succeed. Because our consultants come from so many different professional backgrounds, we have tremendous expertise and capacity. Our model is distinctive from other consulting organizations in several respects—we offer training to these very successful individuals and enable them to deploy their skills for the improvement of their communities. We also serve a broad range of constituencies. Because our consultants come from so many professional backgrounds, we are able to offer a wide breadth of professional advisory services to organizations in just about every nonprofit field, including healthcare providers, schools, museums, performing arts organizations, and even government agencies.
Each year NESC has several classes of new consultants. What thoughts and advice would you offer to new consultants?
It’s wonderful to be able to use the skills and experience you gained during your careers to help nonprofit organizations succeed. The satisfaction you will derive from involvement with NESC includes the intellectual stimulation, working as a team with other talented consultants and staff members within NESC and our client organizations and the opportunity to help others in very creative ways. In many respects, working with nonprofits presents different challenges from the for-profit business environment in which most of our consultants spent their for-profit careers. Consultants should bear in mind that the staff at these mission driven organizations are driven by commitment to their organization and to helping people, rather than by driving revenue and profits for shareholders—resulting in priorities and working styles that may differ from consultants’ past. Bear in mind that understanding and respecting those differences is critical to forming productive working relationships with our clients— helping them deliver on the ultimate missions of their organizations and making a real difference in the lives of so many people.
What do you regard as NESC’s most important strategic objectives?
Our most important strategic objective is to effectively deploy our tremendous talent pool to help the many, many nonprofits who would benefit from the services offered. To do that, we must improve our visibility, market our services, expand our outreach and recruit new consultants to join our ranks—and to spread the word about NESC. Most nonprofits are not aware of the tremendous talent pool that is available to their organizations through NESC. Our challenge is to make them aware of our cost effective alternative to large and expensive consulting firms –with the benefit of senior level hands on professional attention.
How is NESC’s business environment changing?
Nonprofits are feeling the pinch of less government support and increasing competition for foundation and charitable dollars. This means that our nonprofit clients are finding it harder to pay even the modest fees that NESC must charge. We continue to explore ways to run leaner and more efficiently with the limited funds we have. We also find more competition in the nonprofit consulting space, including some organizations who do not charge at all; however, we believe that NESC’s quality is far superior, and that we are capable of handling much more sophisticate and complex consulting assignments.
What are our biggest challenges?
Our biggest challenge is attracting corporate and foundation support. Unlike many – if not most – nonprofits, we work behind the scenes for other nonprofit organizations. While we help these organizations run more smoothly and effectively, our mission needs more explanation than one that directly feeds the poor, houses the homeless or saves children. We typically don’t have the public visibility and “heart appeal” that a lot of corporate benefactors and large foundations desire when giving money to charities. We’re looking at ways to address this, including soliciting funds for the nonprofits we serve that would enable them to engage our services and collaborating with other nonprofits.
How might NESC look different a year from now? What changes might occur over the next five years?
NESC is at a ‘tipping point’. We have a wonderful brand, a long track record, and great consultants. However, we need to take greater advantage of technology to function more effectively, and to reach out to potential clients, funders and volunteer consultants alike. We are looking at potential partnerships and collaboration opportunities, to leverage skills and back office resources and expenses to maximize our impact and minimize our expenses. We are looking to enhance our financial services and other back office offerings—to meet the needs of many nonprofits who cannot afford to have regular staff members performing accounting or human resources functions. We need to be more sophisticated and customized in our branding and messaging—so that our mission and message gets across in a crisp, compelling way.
We have engaged our own consultants to work on the challenges that NESC faces and are thus reaping the benefits that many of our clients gain from their expertise. As a result, the energy level is positive, the office is abuzz with activity and we are very excited about the prospects for sustainability—and the changes that we will need to make to assure that we continue to be able to offer the wonderful assistance to nonprofits that we have provided over the past 37 years