Kicking Founders Out UP -- A Good Thing To Do?

Correction: The title of this post was meant to be "Kicking Founders Up" - not out. All of the folks below are still deeply involved in the organizations that they started. My bad. Too much Jameson.

Oftentimes, nonprofits stick with their founders way too long, even though starting up a new organization requires a pretty much totally different set of skills than does growing an organization once it's been established.

That doesn't mean founders should get sent off to a deserted island, of course. Nor does it guarantee an organization's long term health. And, it's sometimes an uncomfortable and awkward thing to do. But it seems to make sense, and funders now sometimes require it as a condition of their ongoing support.

Some examples: Last week, Green Dot charter schools founder Steve Barr gave up day to day executive responsibilities and named COO Marco Petruzzi as CEO. (He remains Chairman of the Board.) A few years ago, Catalyst founder Linda Lenz kicked herself upstairs to do development and strategy work and brought in Veronica Anderson as top editor of the magazine. Last but not least, everyone's favorite turnaround organization AUSL recently moved founder Martin Koldyke into a Chairman Emeritus position, installing David Vitale (yes, that David Vitale) as Chairman of the Board. They also brought in former Motorola VP Tim Cawley to run many COO functions.

What do you think? Should founders stay in charge for as long as possible or bring others in to grow the organizations they start?

Filed under: Communities & CBOs

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