Talking Leadership With CNE

Talking Leadership With CNE

By ileana Ortega Brunetti, Capacity Building Associate with the Center for Nonprofit Excellence

The Community Foundation for Monterey County’s (CFMC) Center for Nonprofit Excellence (CNE) is pleased to welcome Reid Norris to the team as Leadership Development Specialist. Reid will facilitate CNE’s LEAD Institute, which has developed more than 150 local LEADers in the past decade. He will also connect local nonprofits with CNE resources and services.

Reid and I sat down together to discuss his new role and our perspectives on community needs as well as leadership development efforts.

ileana: Welcome to the team, Reid! What drew you to the position of Leadership Development Specialist?

Reid: In my previous role, I’d partnered with the Community Foundation and very much admired the work they do. My experience as a nonprofit Executive Director and educator fit well with CNE and LEAD’s role in developing our community’s rising leaders. These experiences showed me the power of collaboration, mentorship, and grantmaking – all critical components of my new role. I’m looking forward to working with our nonprofit community and local leaders.

ileana: Yes, I know what you mean. In my work as the Capacity Building Associate this year, I’ve been blessed to meet many wonderful local leaders. CNE started a new series of workshops called Tune Into Your Leadership Voice to create a safe community for nonprofit leaders to learn from each other and grow. What community impact do you hope to make as Leadership Development Specialist?

Reid: I have a unique perspective on CFMC’s work since I’ve been able to experience it “from the other side.” I’ve seen first-hand how resources like the Center for Nonprofit Excellence and CFMC’s grantmaking can be transformative, helping organizations grow, develop, and mature.

My experience as an Executive Director of a small, local nonprofit taught me how difficult it can be to find the time and space for personal and professional development. As the Leadership Development Specialist, it feels good to know that I might help other leaders and nurture the work they’re doing in our community.

Working with CNE has given me a unique perspective on the community’s nonprofit and leadership needs. I’ve learned that leadership is a complicated and fluid concept; it is multi-faceted and no one approach is always “right.” – ileana Brunetti

ileana: I’d like to know what leadership means to you. Who is your leadership role model?

Leadership is about being vulnerable, honest, and introspective. Leaders are growth-oriented. By this I mean leaders are constantly learning, growing, and challenging themselves: mentally, spiritually, and physically. – Reid Norris

Having that growth mindset extends naturally to your organization – how do you amplify your mission and community impact? In terms of leadership role models, I don’t have just one. When I think about leadership I think of the wonderful mentors I’ve been blessed with. I’ve had both formal and informal mentors and the one constant was the mutual value of being a life-long learner, a sense that we are all works in progress. From them, I understood that addressing our community challenges was a joyful and worthwhile path for your life’s work.

Every mentor has a unique take on leadership, and each one taught me something different yet complementary to my leadership style. When I think about what was meaningful about the experience, I am struck by the fact that they took an interest in me and taught me and cared about me even though they didn’t have to. Their mentorship wasn’t obligatory and yet they still took the time to teach me what they knew. For me, that was a special and humbling feeling. Mentoring is a powerful, life-changing experience.

ileana: So true Reid! When I think about the mentors who have guided my path, I feel grateful to have learned from talented, caring people. While working to develop the next chapter for LEAD, my biggest epiphany was seeing that our nonprofit leaders will play a significant role in developing the strategies that rebuild our community after the pandemic. This notion guided my thinking and suggestions for the LEAD 2022 cohort. I see LEAD as an important support structure for our nonprofits and leaders that can offer meaningful connections and collaborations. What challenges and opportunities do you see in the community’s nonprofit landscape?

Reid: I think we have to recognize that many people and organizations have had a couple of rough, traumatic years. I hope that this difficult time also presents an opportunity for us to self-reflect and learn something new about ourselves and our organizations. COVID has impacted so many facets of organizational stability – everything from staff and volunteer retention to community events to fundraising and financial insecurity.

I also believe that challenges bring opportunities. If we are experiencing a time of loss and transformation, how should we rebuild? As we come through this together, I see an opportunity to build resilient, sustainable organizations and to support the local nonprofit leaders who work to make our community a better place. I also think this is an important time for us to really think about how we can integrate the ideals of inclusion and equity that we talk about into actual reality.

ileana: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me. Anything else you want to share?

Reid: I’m thrilled to be a part of LEAD and to re-launch the Institute for the 2022 cohort. This upcoming year will be fun, energizing, and challenging. Above all, I think LEAD will continue to be a great opportunity to connect and learn from inspiring leaders doing inspiring work.

Connect with Reid at Check out the Center for Nonprofit Excellence’s resources at

ileana is a LEAD Institute alum and has served as a Capacity Building Associate with the Center for Nonprofit Excellence throughout 2021. In this role, she has helped support the growth, learning, and development of local nonprofit leaders. She also led efforts to build the next chapter of CNE’s LEAD Institute.