CNE: Focus on Leadership

CNE: Focus on Leadership

The Center for Nonprofit Excellence (CNE) is celebrating ten years of strengthening nonprofits serving Monterey County. CNE, a program of the Community Foundation for Monterey County (CFMC), works with local nonprofits of all types and sizes to be stronger, more resilient and equitable. It helps staff, boards and volunteers make meaningful connections to resources and one another.

While the CFMC has provided leadership and organizational development support to nonprofit organizations in Monterey County for more than twenty years, these programs officially became the Center for Nonprofit Excellence in 2012 to reflect a growing focus on capacity building methods proven to be most effective in the field.

On average, CNE works with more than 160 nonprofits each year, offering learning opportunities, toolkits, grant funding, consulting and more. CNE has awarded more than $500,000 in Organizational Development grants in the past ten years to boost local nonprofits’ effectiveness and resilience.

“I loved the Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) seminar. The CNE has been my and YAC’s greatest ally in both support and leadership education,” said Marcia Perry, Executive Director of Youth Arts Collective in Monterey. “Our whole community benefits every day in a myriad of ways from the extraordinary work of the outstanding staff at the CFMC.”

A key focus for 2022 is investing in leadership through three programs and resources: Executive Director Roundtables, Guide to Leadership Transitions, and the LEAD (Leadership, Education and Development) Institute. For more information, visit or call (831) 375-9712.

CNE recently prioritized building leadership growth and resilience after learning how the nonprofit sector in Monterey County is experiencing significant change in leadership positions. Of the 60 respondents to a CNE survey conducted in 2021, 1/3 indicated that they “had a leadership transition this year or will in the near future.” Trends such as the “Great Resignation” and staffing turnover did not start with the pandemic, but nonprofits saw a surge as our communities weathered the pandemic period.

“CNE offers timely and valuable support and connection for nonprofit professionals,” said Susie Polnaszek, Director, Center for Nonprofit Excellence. “The Community Foundation is proud to continue its investment in these essential leaders.”

The Executive Director Breakfast Roundtable series, facilitated by Luca Oake, invests in the resilience of nonprofit leaders of diverse backgrounds. New and veteran nonprofit executives are invited to recharge and reconnect to share experience, strategies and resources for leadership growth. The in-person series takes place August 26, September 30, October 28 and December 2 at the Community Foundation for Monterey County’s Monterey office. The cost is $15 per session and includes breakfast. Participants can attend individual sessions, but repeat participation is encouraged to build community. Register for this or other opportunities at

Guide Cover ImageTo address the significant leadership changes taking place in the nonprofit sector, the CNE’s new Guide to Leadership Transitions offers stories, strategies and wisdom gathered from local interviews. This free resource offers tips, useful checklists and resources for incoming or outgoing executives, boards of directors and staff to embrace the moment of growth and change and navigate healthy, successful executive transitions.  In addition, CNE staff are available to help nonprofits get the most from the Guide.

LEAD Institute offers nonprofit managers a dynamic professional development institute to foster strong, effective leadership in the local nonprofit sector. Rising nonprofit professionals from nonprofit organizations and community groups in Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz County can apply by October 1, 2022, to join the 2023 cohort. Those selected will join a network of more than 180 nonprofit leaders who have graduated from LEAD since it launched in 2009. To see participant testimonials, for information or to apply, visit

Facilitated by Reid Norris, CFMC Leadership Development Specialist, the 2023 LEAD Institute is designed to nurture and empower leaders to thrive in our current climate of uncertainty, recovery, and possibility. The program emphasizes individualized professional growth with personal coaching sessions and builds leaders who are prepared to lead diverse communities. LEAD participants gain new insights and abilities that can be harnessed to address changing community needs and allow them to assume greater leadership roles.

CNE also reaches boards of directors, staff and nonprofit volunteers through training and resources online at Content includes recorded CNE workshops, relevant webinars on key topics from other sources, resources for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), request for proposals (RFPs) for grant funding and more.

The mission of the Community Foundation for Monterey County is to inspire philanthropy and be a catalyst for strengthening communities throughout Monterey County. For more information, please call 831.375.9712 or visit