Introduction to Board Governance Course

Sharpen Your Leadership Skills and Improve Our Community

Are you interested in making a difference by serving on a Board of Directors in Central Illinois? If you live in Central Illinois and want to make our community a better place – plus develop your professional leadership skills – enroll in the Introduction to Board Governance course!

In addition, individuals who successfully complete the course will be connected with local organizations that may be in need of volunteer board members.


The April course is full.

Registration is now open for the May 3-part course.

Thursday, May 2 | 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 4 | 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Monday, May 6 | 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Courses will be held at The Decatur Area Arts Council on the 2nd floor. To register please contact Jennifer Ross at or call 217.429.3000.

Course Requirements:

Participants are expected to attend all three course sessions.

Class size limited to 12 participants.

Course Overview

  • Identifies the responsibilities and expectations involved in this type of community service.
  • Teaches you how to be an effective and prepared member of a Board of Directors so you can experience the satisfaction of being a part of your community's success.
  • Addresses topics you'll need to know to be an effective and participating member of a community board.

Course Information

  • The course is presented in 3 separate sessions. Each session lasts 2.5 hours.
  • $30 enrollment fee includes all 3 sessions, materials and light refreshments.
  • Attendance at all three sessions is expected. Students who finish the course earn a certificate of completion.

View the Course Outline

Introduction to Board Governance Course Outline

Topic 1: Governing Board Overview

  • Governance Structure
    • Community
    • Governing Board
    • Executive Director
    • Managers
    • Employees / Staff / Volunteers
  • Comparison to Advisory Board
  • How Directions flow
  • Authority and responsibilities of a Governing Board
  • Expectations of Directors
  • Introduction to Board policies
  • Legal issues

Topic 2: Membership

  • Consider Directors’ responsibilities and expectations
  • Consider focus of the board: govern & develop policy
  • Seek mission advocates plus business perspective
  • Develop a cross-section of the community
    • Occupational – skills and expertise needed for oversight
    • Demographic – age, gender, race, etc.
    • Other – bring other desirable traits to table

Topic 3: Board Policies

  • Reminder of policy basics from Overview
  • 4 Categories
    • Ends
    • Means
    • Board Rules and Responsibilities
    • Board-Staff Relationship

Topic 4: Relationship between Board and Executive Director

  • Responsibilities
    • Of the Board
    • Of the Executive Director
  • Govern through Board policies
    • Ends: Mission & plans
    • Means: Executive Limitations
    • Board-Staff Relationship: How Board interacts with staff
  • Manage the Executive Director
    • Hire
    • Develop
    • Assist
    • Monitor
    • Evaluate
    • Compensate
    • Terminate

Topic 5: Board Committees and Leadership

  • Committees
    • Board committees vs. operating committees
    • Nominating
    • Audit
    • Budget & Finance
    • Executive Committee for actions between meetings?
    • Others? Standing vs. ad hoc
  • Board Leadership
    • Chair
    • Other officers: Vice Chair, Secretary, Treasurer
    • Leadership succession

Topic 6: Board Operations

  • Administration of board
    • Number of directors
    • Terms of service
    • Official agreements – Conflict of Interest, etc.
    • Other considerations
  • Meetings
    • Participants
    • Information / Board packet
    • Meeting agenda & content
    • Executive sessions, special meetings
  • Board Education
    • Introductory Materials
    • Ongoing Education

Topic 7: How Does a Director provide effective service?

  • Review Expectations, Authority/Responsibility, Board’s Contributions
  • Provide linkage to the community
  • Develop and maintain policies
  • Assure Executive Director performance
  • Commit to the mission
  • Contribute time, talent, treasure
  • Additional tips, suggestions, resources

About the Instructor

An active community leader who has extensive experience in board development, business ownership and training, Bruce Nims has taught Introduction to Board Governance nearly 30 times, training hundreds of area individuals in the skills needed to serve on a volunteer board of directors.

Nims serves as entrepreneur-in-residence for Millikin University’s Tabor School of Business and its Center for Entrepreneurship. He also is secretary/treasurer of InDecatur Ventures LLC, a local venture capital firm.

Nims is active in community organizations and currently serves on the boards of the Decatur Parks Foundation and the Historic Decatur Foundation.

Nims lives in Decatur with his wife, Kay. He enjoys hiking, travel, tennis and skiing. A Millikin University graduate, he founded Nims Associates Inc., which offered information technology consulting services, and led it for 26 years.