“Pathways to Leadership Transition and Leveraging Executive Director Expertise” engaged experienced executive directors (ED) of farm and food system nonprofits in an exploration of the dynamics that frequently lead to ED burnout and departure. From the outset, the project organizers acknowledged that there are challenging structural conditions within the nonprofit sector that are outside the control of any single executive director or organization. Within this context, Pathways focused on actions that individual EDs and other organizational stakeholders such as board members, other staff, funders, et. al., can take.
During a one-day facilitated convening EDs discussed components of their roles that serve as both sources of satisfaction and challenge. While virtually all EDs work through these areas of responsibility every day, they can become particular barriers to preparing for an effective, orderly leadership transition. The table below summarizes the root causes and suggested interventions to improve conditions for executive directors.