Friday, December 4, 2009

I was CEO at a Non-Profit

During my last 1.5 years at Xerox and for my first 4.5 years at Gartner, I was the CEO of a non-profit. It wasn't something I sought out, it sought me. My college fraternity was in trouble, so I took over has head of the alumni corporation (e.g. often referred to as a House Corporation).

It was daunting at first, because many alumni presidents are glorified fraternity house landlords. Gradually, I rebuilt the House Corporation Board of Directors. My CFO, Scott Cassara, was incredible, particularly because when we took over, we were broke. Scott is currently SVP and CFO at DynCorp International. My other board member who stuck with me through all the tough times was Jeff Painter, who was also my college roommate. There were also other critical board members who contributed like Wil Woodrum, Joe Conaty, Dave Heatwole and others.

Running a non-profit corporation is really no different than running a for-profit firm. There are multiple things to worry about and it all has to be coordinated and seamless.  If you do a good job, people give back (buy). If you don't, they run away. We did a great job and alumni started contributing and giving back. They also come back, as we have the longest running alumni weekend of any alumni group at Penn State (the PSU-Sigma Chi Golf Classic, now in its 20th year).

In fact, after my stint as CEO, Jeff Painter and I helped launch a major capital campaign and remodeled the awesome physical plant we have at Penn State.  One of the best things we did as a board though was to hire and install a live-in House Mother who is still there. The Penn State Greek System would be better if all fraternity houses had House Mothers (like they do in the Mid-West and the South).

I'm proud of my time as CEO of Alpha Chi House Corporation. I put a lot into it and as I head back into Industry, I'll tap those experiences.

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