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In Support of Those Who Take the Leap

Lessons on Leadership Transitions from the Open Society Foundations’ New Executives Fund
  • Date
  • October 2021
  • Authors
  • Martha Farmelo and Victoria Wigodzky

This report from the New Executives Fund is the culmination of a study drawing from the experience of 60 nonprofit executives who were new to their positions. Their first-hand accounts and candid reflections of what it takes to navigate leadership changes—and how funders can help them during these often tumultuous times—are the subject of this insightful and timely report, authored by Martha Farmelo and Victoria Wigodzky.

The Open Society Foundations’ New Executives Fund has funded more than 130 leaders since 2013 with many first-time leaders in executive roles. A principal finding from the research is that during times of transition, donors need to step in and engage, rather than stay on the sidelines. The most important thing they can do during this period is build trust and confidence in new leaders by offering unrestricted funding, access to support networks, and opportunities for new executives to engage with each other.

Given the COVID-19 pandemic and a rapidly changing economy—where record numbers of people are leaving their jobs—it is a safe bet that the nonprofit sector is not immune from these trends, which makes this report a timely and important read.

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