The pros and cons of being the “new guy” executive director, and the fundraising challenges associated with lesser-known chronic conditions.

August 10, 2016

Michelle Davis
Executive Director, International FOP Association, Inc.

Michelle is a seasoned nonprofit professional who is back in the executive director role at IFOPA after serving as chief development officer at the PKD Foundation. Prior to that she was the executive director for Nonprofit Connect. She also serves on the board of the Mid-America Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.


Watch for easy wins and simple tweaks you can make while onboarding as a new executive director. Find meaningful ways to make a positive impact on your organization’s culture.

Take advantage of strong relationships with vendors and partners to beef up the capacity of a small staff.

Working remotely can be a challenge, but by putting technology like Dropbox and web conferencing to work for you, you can connect stakeholders, board members and staff effectively.


Networking is critical. Tap into the people you know—in both the nonprofit and for profit sectors—for new ideas and inspiration.

2 ears, 1 mouth. Listen and observe, especially when you’re the new guy.

Ask questions. Find creative ways to get the information you need.

Look for quick wins. Build good will and reinforce your value—especially in the first 60 to 90 days.

Pick your battles. Not every situation bears the same weight. Learn when to stand up and when to hang back.