Keshet- a not for profit organization.

Introduction

Keshet is one of the leading providers of a number of programs in Chicago area. Its range of services include education, recreation, vocation and social programs for all individual living in the Chicago areas with intellectual disabilities. The nonprofit organization operates according to the traditional Jewish values. The organization receives support and donation from a number of well-wishers, organizations, and the government. This helps in managing Keshet’s Healthy Lifestyles, a health and wellness program that focuses on building healthy habits, chronic disease prevention, nutrition and exercise for young adults with developmental disabilities (Keshet, 2013)

The organization’s mission statement

The company’s mission statement is to enhance independence and integration to optimize personal potential. The organization’s main goal is to enable children with disabilities to participate as fully as possible in the mainstream of community life while providing an excellent and social education.

Based on the Jewish values, the organization is mainly concerned with raising awareness and promoting effective inclusion of everyone with disability as well as their families. The organization is of the idea that these people and their families have a right to be included in the activities undertaken by the Jewish society. Therefore, the organization has program geared at educating individuals living with disabilities and their families.

The interview

Critical policy issues,

According to Mr. Wanyama, the key policy issues include capacity building, legal issues, and policy development. He said that Keshet is a nonprofit organization working with individuals with special needs this mean that the organization must be a high performing organization to be effective in service deliver. The management and the board must have adequate management skills and principles required to build high performing organizations. This organization has a competent board but it needs to build its capacity in order to achieve the desired organizational development phase because its current standards are not up to international level. Currently, the organization is not facing any challenge when it comes to service delivery despite the fact that it is dealing with the mentally and physical challenged. Therefore, I would like to say that to me, the organization does not need to increase its strength and effectiveness. In particular, the board seems to be working effectively. Since its inception, it has worked hard enough to survive the challenges of the present day economy.

Mr. Wanyama also supported the board saying that the organization’s board and management should has been working on leadership, adaptability as well as program capacity in order to survive the current economic environments. The board has championed programs geared at realizing greater impacts and to be sure of sustainability. Despite the organization’s knowledgeable board, there are organization’s specific needs for capacity building. For example, the board has to determine how the organization is faring and if possible evaluate their effectives and organizational outcomes. We as an organization need to develop a proper framework for evaluating, learning and improving the organizational effectives. However, Mr. Wanyama explains that despite the organizations periodic self-assessment, I think the board needs to have in place organization specific self-assessment and reporting tool. This way, the organization will be able to know where to start with their capacity building initiatives.

In relation to improving the Policy Review and Development, Mr. Wanyama stated that currently, the organization seems to have in place strategies for policy review because we have never had any specific problems with following the policy. However, I think after being operational since its inception, the organization should review its policies comprehensively and not piece meal as it has always been done. We have to be too able to address all the loopholes, ambiguities, ineffective or impractical languages. I am sure proper analysis will help the board realize that there are many policies that are not being followed

Roles and responsibilities

According to Mr. Wanyama, the boards of directors are doing their best to perform their duties. For one, they were elected to provide support and governance. For example, they were supposed to help the organization raise money, and bring more contact to Keshet. They were also supposed to work as ambassadors to the community they are serving. Their roles are responsibilities are more defined and their job description enriched because they are underperforming. The board’s governance role means that they should be protecting the public interest. This they achieved by selecting the executive director and assessed their performance. Personally, I also feel that the board and the executive have the required skills when it comes to compliance with the legal as well as tax requirements.

When asked about his perception about the board in relations to the importance of their roles, his response was interesting because he noted the fact that the organization is a predominantly Jewish run organization, the board adheres to the Jewish values and traditions. However, there are no problems meeting the outcomes and performance standards required. In as much as the board can set direction and allocate resources, they still need to work on insight and the skill required for improving organizational effectiveness. I also feel the chief executive officers has successfully ensured that the board’s activities and the committee’s work meets the desired standards. This is just my balanced and objective opinion. I think the organization does not have to re-evaluate needs its board members as earlier posited because the board is very effective as it was before.

Process of evaluating executive professional officers is very transparent and rigorous because the board is responsible for everything from writing the job description to the selection of the fellow board members. For example, they are tasked with selecting the chief executive after reaching consensus of the responsibilities. They are also responsible for supporting and evaluating the chief executive by ensuring that the incumbent has both moral and professional support he may require to meet the goals and objectives of the nonprofit organization

The board’s other responsibility are also properly defined. For example, the board has been instrumental in ensuring effective planning as well as monitoring and strengthening all the program’s activities. They are also responsible for monitoring the organization’s programs and ensuring that the programs are aligned with the Keshet’s mission, while at the same time monitoring the program’s effectiveness. This they have done effectively as required. In relations to ethics and social responsibility, the board is responsible for ensuring that the organization demonstrates both legal and ethical integrity and this is at the core of the organizations policy and mandate.

Fundraising goals

Securing financial resources is a very important responsibility of the board. While these financial goals are set by the same board, they are always predetermined based on forecast and the Jewish community has been instrumental in ensuring that the organization’s financial resources are realized. The board is also responsible for ensuring that the organization has adequate financial resources required to fulfill Keshet’s fundraising goals. The board has constantly managed to meet the goals supported by the donation from Jewish Disability Awareness Month (JDAM), and $5,000 CVS Caremark Community Grant

Board challenges.

The board is still faced with few challenges especially when it comes to delivering on its specific goals. For example, there are problems with the nonprofits governance, as the organization has had to deal with the impact of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act having on nonprofits governance. In particular, the board still has problems with the provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley act in relation to the external audit, and formation of an independent audit committee. Currently, the board is still working on written conflict of interest policy that has profound impact on the board’s effectiveness.

Summary of the effectiveness of the board

The board is very in a number of domains especially in relation to their core duties of selecting the chief executive, overseeing the programs and securing financial resources. The board, which is mainly composed of the Jewish community, has been effective in meeting the accountability especially with the increasing scrutiny of the IRS, the policymakers and the media. However, I feel that the board is racially and ethnically homogeneous and this might affect their ability to respond to the diverse publics. In particular, the board should be drawn from diverse race and ethnic background to help in balancing the support. The fact that the Keshet is a predominantly Jewish and this might also affects the people with disability and their family’s perception of the program. However, I feel the board is effective are managing financial resources, selection of the chef executive, overseeing the organization’s program and decision-making.

References

Keshet. (2013, November 20). Keshet Receives $5,000 CVS Caremark Community Grant.Keshet. Retrieved February 17, 2014, from https://www.keshet.org/content/keshet-receives-5000-cvs-caremark-community-grant

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