Thu, 15 July, 2021

Cenla Execbuilders Develops Nonprofit Executives

Cenla Execbuilders Develops Nonprofit Executives

Seven participants are in the 2021 class

Seven Central Louisiana nonprofit leaders are attending a seven-session development program to learn various aspects of the job with the goal of improving their organizations and ultimately their communities.

Cenla Execbuilders, a program of Community Development Works, provides a unique opportunity for executive directors in Central Louisiana, regardless of experience level, to become more effective in their roles as leaders of local nonprofit organizations. The program uses a combination of intensive training, professional coaching and peer networking opportunities grounded in adult learning methodologies. By developing and improving leadership skills, participants have the opportunity to become part of a close-knit community of skilled leaders and increase their capacity to lead high-performing organizations

The 2021 participants of Cenla Execbuilders are:

  • Joseph Buzzetta, Executive Director, Central Louisiana Homeless Coalition
  • Sally Cowan, Executive Director, Cenla Community Action Committee, Inc.
  • Jerald “Jerry” Egbert, Executive Director, Life Assisting Fellowship Corporation
  • Mitzi LaSalle, Director of Donor Relations, Evergreen Life Services
  • Donna Lindsey, Executive Director, The Centennial Cultural Center, Inc.
  • Jacqueline Murray, Executive President, Veterans Place Organization
  • Quentin Murray, Vice President and Chairman, Veterans Place Organization

After they graduate in September, the participants will join a group of 56 Cenla Execbuilders alumni.

Cenla Execbuilders started in 2012 as a complement to the Cenla Boardbuilders program, a successful training program for individuals who are interested in becoming nonprofit board members or for sitting board members seeking additional training. Cenla Boardbuilders began in 2004 and has more than 200 alumni.

Both programs are offered free of charge and are part of The Rapides Foundation’s Social Environment Initiative, which provides an integrated approach to enhance civic and community opportunities for more effective nonprofit leaders and organizations. The goal of the initiative is to improve the effectiveness of nonprofit organizations so that they will operate with greater success as they work to achieve their missions. Community Development Works implements most of the activities under the initiative.

The Foundation created Community Development Works to offer nonprofit management training, capacity- building and leadership programs to nonprofit organizations, communities and individuals to develop their ability to respond to the opportunities around them.

“The capacity within a community to address issues of concern is of ultimate importance and is key to improving and developing the region,” said Joe Rosier, President and CEO of The Rapides Foundation. “Community Development Works offers nonprofit capacity building, training sessions, technical assistance and other programs to help all nonprofits, regardless of whether they are a Foundation grantee.”

Cenla Execbuilders participants have varying levels of experience and they come from different types of nonprofits. But they all share a desire to increase their knowledge in order to improve their organizations and help their communities.

Participants attend seven full days of intensive, leadership training over a four-month period. The training is designed for participants to develop skills to lead nonprofit organizations and manage the ever-changing environment in which nonprofits operate. Training topics are presented in a systematic order to reinforce the knowledge and skills from the previous sessions.

The topics for the 2021 cohort are: Understanding Leadership Roles and Responsibilities; Nonprofit Operations and Implications; Strategic Planning and Thinking; Fund Development and Public Relations; Effective Communication and Conflict Resolution; Team Building and Mentoring; and Leading and Managing Change. The group began its work with an orientation in April. They graduate on September 24.

In addition to attending the seven training sessions, participants can request personal coaching services delivered by expert trainers. These personalized coaching sessions are offered at no extra cost to Cenla Execbuilders participants.

Joseph Buzzetta
Joseph Buzzetta

Participant Joseph Buzzetta has been executive director of the Central Louisiana Homeless Coalition for two years and says Cenla Execbuilders is giving him a wealth of information he can use. With a background in social work and direct client services, he especially appreciates the intense training on administrative topics.

“Cenla Execbuilders has given me a whole bunch of new tools in my tool belt that I can utilize to help the agency run more efficiently and help the employees to do their jobs a lot easier, and that’s only going to translate to better outcomes for our homeless community,” he said. “Ultimately if your administration isn’t running well, that’s going to trickle down to your employees and the client, and so to shore that up on the top end, it’s going to be that foundation that helps us to achieve our goals of getting people off the streets and into housing.”

Buzzetta said he enjoys hearing ideas from the rest of the group. “With me being a new director, I can soak in as much experience as I can from the other people in my cohort. They have a lot more experience in administration than I do, so it’s been good to see their perspective.”

Would he recommend Cenla Execbuilders to others?

“There are a lot of trainings specifically for administrators … but in terms of an organized curriculum, something like Cenla Execbuilders is rare to come by, especially for nonprofits. And something like Execbuilders is going to cost beaucoup amounts of money when you find a good one. So not only is it good quality material, it’s actually affordable for a nonprofit because it’s free,” he said. “I recommend it because one of the things a lot of new directors experience is that feeling of not knowing, which makes your job a lot harder. Being equipped with this knowledge has made the last couple of months easier for me because it helped me to know where I can direct my time.”

Anyone interested in being a part of the Cenla Execbuilders program can call CDW at 318-443-7880 or submit an application on the CDW website:

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