Proven Strategies

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The Best Friends Podcast Episode 110

Building better boards
May 12th, 2022

This week we're talking about an important but often underutilized and sometimes dysfunctional component of every nonprofit organization - the board of directors.

Boards can take on different forms, but all boards of directors provide a governance role. Sometimes (most often in the case of small organizations), the board can be a "working board," where members take on operational responsibilities on top of the governance duties.

No matter the approach, board members play an essential role in the oversight of organizations, such as fiduciary duties, leading the strategic planning, and supporting the organization's management. With the programmatic shifts in the industry and issues such as the economy affecting all of us, now more than ever, animal welfare organizations need board members who are ready and willing to step up to the challenge.

We chatted with the senior specialist with the Best Friends national embed team, Trish Tolbert, to learn more about boards.

We want to hear from you about your boards. What's working, and what's not? You may be featured on a future episode. Send us an email:

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Trish Tolbert

Trish Tolbert

senior development strategist, national embed program team, Best Friends

Patricia (Trish) Tolbert was “that kid who brought home all the stray and injured animals,” so it’s not surprising that her professional and personal life has been focused on furry and feathered friends. Trish has served as the executive director of the Memphis Zoological Society, associate director of The Nature Conservancy’s Philanthropy Learning Center, and coach/consultant/trainer to client organizations as varied as the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, World Wildlife, Catholic Charities, Special Olympics International, the University of Massachusetts and (Australian) Trust for Nature.

While most of her career has been spent raising funds (or helping others learn to fundraise), Trish has also served on the grantmaking side of the desk and led discussion groups, training task forces and mentoring initiatives across state and international borders. She joined the national shelter outreach team in 2018, participating in shelter assessments, training academies and national conferences. She is now part of the national embed program team, assisting embed partner organizations with fundraising and creating learning resources for both nonprofits and municipal shelters.

Trish earned her master’s from the University of Manchester in Manchester, UK, and her bachelor’s at Christian Brothers University in Memphis, TN, where she graduated as co-valedictorian. She holds certificates in nonprofit management and documentary arts from Duke University affiliates and lives near Chapel Hill, NC, with her zoo vet tech husband and multiple community cats.

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