Nonprofit Lowdown

#25-Communicating with Clarity with Leah Bonvissuto

An episode of Nonprofit Lowdown

By Rhea Wong
This is Nonprofit Lowdown where I review and recommend the best ideas, resources, tools, tricks and tips to run your nonprofit like a pro!
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#56-Going the Distance with Daniel Oscar
Daniel Oscar: educator, nonprofit exec, marathoner.  Listen in to Daniel's gems of wisdom for staying the course in the nonprofit world.  Daniel helped Wendy Kopp build Teach for America and has been in various roles in the nonprofit/education reform sector since then.  He shares his tips on how to run the marathon and not the sprint, how to prioritize self-care and his best advice to young people starting out in nonprofit.  My favorite takeaway: focus on being helpful instead of being right. For more about Daniel and Center for Supportive Schools, check it out here.
October 17, 2019
#55-Relationship is the Unit of Change with Jen Mayer
Have you ever walked away from a hard conversation feeling like a bomb went off and you didn't take cover?  Join me and my friend and mentor Jen Mayer, Founder of Becoming Better Together to talk about how to have hard conversations with fierceness and kindness, how to learn how to know thyself and how to be in the world even when it's uncomfortable. Jen is the queen of resources and offers this resource as thought-starters and tools for fierce conversations.
October 10, 2019
#54-How to Avoid Self-Sabotage as an ED with Ted Federici
Join me for a chat with master coach and my former Board Chair Ted Federici to discuss the common pitfalls of leaders and the mistakes they make.  The job that we have as leaders is daunting and we sometimes do ourselves a disservice by being our own worst enemies.  Learn how to tame the ego, build trust and have the meeting before the meeting.  Bonus: you'll learn some of my favorite "Federicisms" like: "Everyone caters to the craziest person in the room," or "It's just a fart in a windstorm." To learn more about Ted and his work, visit Ted at
October 3, 2019
#53-Rhea's Book Club
Happy Birthday to Nonprofit Lowdown!  Thanks, listeners, for hanging with me for a year.  It's been a blast and a JOURNEY! For today's pod, I'm reviewing three books that have really taken my game to the next level.  There's something for everyone.  For organizational design geeks, there's Brave New Work.  For productivity and people who just need to get to work, there's Free to Focus.  And for managers and leaders who want to give better feedback, there's The Feedback Fallacy: Why Feedback Rarely Does What It's Meant To and the companion book Nine Lies About Work. It's been an honor and pleasure to be in your earbuds this last year.  Let me know if there are topics you'd like for me to review and thank you for listening!
September 26, 2019
#52-Turbocharging your productivity with Emily Hicks-Rotella
We're back with our resident Technologista Emily Hicks-Rotella!  In today's pod, we talking about our favorite tech tools, tips and books for how to wrangle our to-do lists, get to inbox zero and manage our focus.  Too much to do and not enough time?  Join the club.  This is a must-listen if you're trying to get to work and for tech to work for you, not against you.   Some of our favorite tools: Airtable Sanebox Slack Trello Boomerang Freedom Zapier Streak Notion Tettra Books we love: Getting Things Done (classic!) Free to Focus Atomic Habits
September 19, 2019
#51-Grace, Generosity and Leading with Purpose with Dr. Lisette Nieves
You know how there are people in your life who inspire you to level up your game?  Lisette Nieves is one of these people.  She's an educator, a do-er, a coach and an inspiration.  On today's pod we talk about the challenges of managing a board and staff and how to make people feel USEFUL is more important than making them feel happy.  We discuss the dangers of a bored board, why you need to challenge your assumptions about who you need on your board and the emotional labor of leadership. For more Lisette, check out her website here.
September 12, 2019
#50-Organizing Your People for Max Impact with Sydney Henriques-Payne
People: your biggest asset and perhaps your biggest pain point.  Join me on today's pod with organizational strategist, human capital and DEI expert Sydney Henriques-Payne to explore some of the obstacles and opportunities with your people.  How do you spark cultural change?  How do you bring on the right level of leader for the maturity of your organization?  How do you put DEI in the center of the work and work with people at different levels of "wokeness"?  Sydney is dropping knowledge bombs like it's her job.   Also, Nine Lies About Work is mentioned on the pod.
September 5, 2019
#49-Changing Behaviors through Behavioral Design with Laura Wolff
Humans.  So complicated, amirite? Today I'm talking with Laura Wolff at Ideas42 about the work they do with nonprofits to boost positive behavioral change.  Learn some quick tips and tricks about lowering friction to desired behaviors and how to make teenagers do things.  We discuss simple changes that make a big impact from increasing enrollment to Gifted and Talented programs to decreasing community college dropout rates. To access FREE workshops @Ideas42, click here. For access to resources we mention on the pod, click here.
August 29, 2019
#48-From Passion to Professional with Paul Thallner
This one is for all you Founders out there.  Join me as I chat with my friend and professional coach Paul Thallner as we talk about the pitfalls of leadership.  How does one go from a passionate person with a start-up to an effective organizational leader?  How do you use the power of story-telling and narrative to shape culture and why does being a leader just suck sometimes?  Join us for some empathetic, good sense with Paul.  For more info about Paul, check out his company High Peaks Group if you need some coaching to level up!
August 22, 2019
#47-Asian Americans, DEI and Raising Hell with Seisei Tatebe-Goddu & Cosmo Fujiyama Ghaznavi
I don't think you're ready for this jelly.   Two of the fiercest Asian-American women I know are with me on today's pod and we're ready to torch the patriarchy. Join me and my buds Seisei and Cosmo as we discuss what it means to be an Asian-American in the social justice space, how we can use our own privilege in service to others and why the Harvard lawsuit is a wedge issue.  Also, for those of you who want to negotiate a raise for yourself, call Seisei. Click here to get in touch with these badasses. Seisei & Cosmo #rockthecasbah.
August 15, 2019
#46-Launching a Capital Campaign with Amanda Kraus
What's harder than raising $5M for operating?  How about $34M for a new building?  Join me and my dear friend Amanda Kraus, Founder and CEO of Row NY, to talk about what she's learned about launching a capital campaign for their beautiful new Harlem-based boathouse.  In this convo, we talk about how to know when you're ready, how to avoid cannibalizing your annual fund donors and tips she's learned from Rich Berlin.  Also, can you check out this gorgeous boathouse?
August 8, 2019
#45-Major Gift Fundraising and Your Board with Heather Malin
Join me and my buddy Heather Malin as we talk about her transition from a dog-enthusiast to a major gift fundraiser.  We talk about some of the common mistakes of fundraisers, how to turn your board into your biggest fundraisers and advocates and why people wait too long to ask.  Need some inspiration to go ask for that $$?  Listen to this one!
August 1, 2019
#44-Launching Your Own Consulting Biz with Tammy Dowley Blackman
You're not bossy if you are the boss. Today I'm talking with my friend Tammy Dowley Blackman about her journey as a leader, the challenges faced by folks of color in the development field and how she went from Executive Director to launching her own consulting firm.  We talk about the strategy of scaling, how to think about the business and why motherhood inspired her to be an entrepreneur.  This is a must-listen for those of you who are thinking about striking out on your own.
July 25, 2019
#43-Supporting Fundraisers of Color with Judy Levine
In today's pod, I'm talking with Judy Levine, Executive Director of Cause Effective.  Judy and her team just released an important white paper about the state of fundraisers of color in the nonprofit industry.    Some value bombs: The single most important factor of success for a fundraiser of color is a supportive Executive Director. People who make the transition into senior development roles often jump orgs to find their right fit.  You can't afford NOT to listen to this episode. Get your hands on the report here.
July 18, 2019
#42 Asians are POCs and How to be Your Own Boss with Caroline Kim Oh
This is the original bosslady.  On today's pod, I'm talking with former CEO of iMentor and Executive Coach Caroline Kim Oh.  We're spilling the tea on all the things including being the Only Ones in rooms, how Asian Americans have been misused as the "model minority" and how to start your own biz.  As more EDs are leaving their positions, listen to one former ED's story of how she set up her business to work for herself (and conquered her fears in the process!) For more information, check out Caroline here.
July 11, 2019
#41 DEI Recruitment, Hiring and Retention with Judy Pryor-Ramirez
Happy July 4th!  Free yourself from the tyranny of white supremacist hiring practices!  Join me for a great conversation with consultant Judy Pryor-Ramirez about how to source, hire and retain folks of color.  Some value bombs: 1) how to assess your current practices 2) how to question white supremacist paradigms in hiring 3) what "Real Talk with Judy" means. For more information about Judy, check her out here. For Judy's recommendation on white supremacist culture, download it here.
July 4, 2019
#40-Leading and Managing Like A Marine with Lt. Colonel Bill Wroten
So, fun fact: I've always secretly wanted to be a Navy SEAL.  Or a Marine.  Join me on today's pod with my friend retired Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Bill Wroten.   Here's a value bomb for you: You lead people and manage processes.  Once you talk about managing people, you've reduced them to processes and that's why they don't feel ownership. Boom!
June 27, 2019
#39-Applying Behavioral Science to DEI Hiring Practices with Anthony Barrows
How much of a pain point is hiring for you?  Are you looking to diversify your pool, make your process more equitable and inclusive and retain a diverse workforce?  Duh, aren't we all?  Join me as I chat with Anthony Barrows, Managing Director of Ideas42, as we talk about how they have redesigned their process to mitigate implicit bias.   For NYC-based nonprofits, check out their Behavioral Design Center. For implicit bias test, click here. For Iris Bohnet research, click here.
June 20, 2019
#34-Lessons Learned in Scaling Too Quickly with Morty Ballen
Today we're chatting with my buddy, Morty Ballen, who lived through the go-go days of charter school expansion.  As the CEO and Founder of Explore Schools, Morty oversaw the replication of three schools in an eight year period.  He shares his lessons learned (spoiler alert: it's the people!) and what is on the other side of leaving after 20 years of being the CEO.  Morty is humble, insightful and good-natured and I enjoyed this conversation immensely.  
June 18, 2019
#38-Leading and Balancing Like a Boss with Jane Martinez-Dowling
Join me on today's pod as I talk with veteran nonprofit leader, Jane Martinez Dowling.  In today's chat, Jane discusses how her experience as a first-gen college-going, Dominican-American woman has influenced her leadership.  She's been in the top job in three different organizations and also touches on how to be a boss and a mom.  Spoiler alert: leave the guilt and judgement behind.  Jane was a joy!
June 13, 2019
#37-Spirituality and Tech with Emily Hicks-Rotella
Today, we're speaking with our resident Tech Goddess, Emily Hicks-Rotella about how technology and spirituality are connected.  This conversation is a little more whoo-whoo than others we've had so feel free to skip it if it's not your jam.  We talk about what it means to have a single source of truth, how technology can connect us to our purpose and clarity and how you don't have to go sit on a mountaintop to achieve peace.   Click here for more about Emily.
June 6, 2019
#36-Upgrading Your Organizational Operating System with Sam Spurlin
So. Many. Truth. Bombs.  This interview with The Ready's Sam Spurlin.  I reached out to Sam because I'm OBSESSED with the book Brave New Work by Aaron Dignan.  So often in organizations when things aren't working, when communication breaks down, when we're having meetings about meetings--well, it just makes you crazy.  Sam talks about how our approach to organizational change might be about identifying and fixing the operating system one experiment at a time.  We talk so much about culture, but culture is created by organizational operating systems.  Tune in to this very educational interview with Sam.
May 30, 2019
#35-Why Payday Loans Suck with Clara Chow
Usually, we feature episodes that help nonprofit executives to run their nonprofits better.  Today, we're talking with Clara Chow about her work in creating pathways to financial sustainability and a product that can help low-income Americans from falling prey to payday loans.  I've seen what financial instability and predatory lending practices have done to families.  Take a listen to Clara's take on how we can help hard-working Americans to access capital and build strong financial foundations. To learn more about this or to get into the pilot, email Clara here.
May 23, 2019
#33-The Emotional Side of Founders Transitioning Out with Dr. Kerry Ann Rockquemore
Today I'm chatting with Dr. Kerry Ann who was Founder of the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity.  As a young African-American professor, she founded her organization to mentor and support women and faculty of color in their academic careers.  We talk about what happens when it's time to move on from your organization and what life looks like on the other side.  Kerry Ann is wise, warm and wonderful.   To find out more about Kerry Ann's adventures, check out her blog:
May 9, 2019
#32-How To Be More Tech-Driven Without an IT Department with Emily Hicks-Rotella
I'm so pleased to welcome back my friend Emily.  Today, we're talking about how small nonprofits that don't have a big IT budget or IT department can take steps to become more data-driven and tech-forward.  Emily will be a recurring guest so if you have tech/data questions, email them in at
May 2, 2019
#31-Breaking the Rules with Offor "Ify" Walker
"I'm not a businessman, I'm a business, man." Get ready to jump because we're setting this house ON FIRE.  Ify Walker is the founder and CEO of Offor, which is one of the nation's top talent broker agencies in the country.  In today's episode we talk about the war for talent, especially for leaders of color, how to find the courage to run your own company and change the conversation about race, access and getting to the C-suite.  Ify is telling the truth about building her business, creating power brokers and why you need an FU fund.   Find Ify and her team here.
April 25, 2019
#30-Intentional Leadership with Erica Hamilton
Joyful.  Thought-provoking.  Truth-telling.  Join me for this wide-ranging conversation with Erica Hamilton.  Erica shares her wisdom and perspective as an expert leader, manager and "nonprofit whisperer."  We talk about the women of color tax, the benefits of saying NO and how to survive and thrive as a nonprofit executive.  A must-listen for current and aspiring nonprofit execs!
April 18, 2019
#29-Leading as Women of Color with Dianne Morales
Hold onto your hats because Dianne is about the blow the roof off.  #Realtalk: we're addressing some of the elephants in the room about why it can be so exhausting to be a woman of color in the top job.  Dianne is the Executive Director and CEO of Phipps Neighborhoods and has been wildly successful in her role.  So, what did she do when she was told she was "flying too close to the sun"?  What emotional labor does it take to do the work every day?  Please let me know your thoughts and feedback in the comments.  
April 11, 2019
#28-History of Philanthropy with Micah McElroy
I LOVED this interview with Columbia University doctoral candidate Micah McElroy.  Micah is pursuing his PhD in the history of philanthropy in the US and we delve into all sort of interesting historical examples of philanthropy in America.  What cycles of wealth and philanthropy are we seeing today?  Can we expect Jeff Bezos to lift the rock upon which he stands?  Let me know what you think in the comments!
April 4, 2019
#27-How to Create a Data-Driven Culture with Emily Hicks-Rotella
We all talk about it, but how do you achieve it?  Join me in my conversation with Emily Hicks-Rotella of Make Tech Work For You.  Get control of your data and digital life, slay those tech phobias and find actionable ways to become a data-driven organization.  
March 28, 2019
#26-How to Prep for an Audit with Howard Cohen
What to expect when you're conducting your first audit?  If you're like most EDs, dealing with the financial side is just a wee bit mysterious.  Join me as I chat with Howard Cohen CPA, Partner of Mazars to learn about how to prepare for your audit, what best practices you can implement in a small shop and how to be BFF with your accountants.  Click here to get in touch with Howard for your next audit.
March 21, 2019
#25-Communicating with Clarity with Leah Bonvissuto
Did you know that 93% of all communication is non-verbal?  How do you incorporate feedback about your communication and still stay true to yourself?  Join me as we talk with Leah Bonvissuto, founder of Present Voices to learn about how to communicate with power and intention.
March 14, 2019
#24-What We Wish We Had Known with Brooke Richie-Babbage
Join me and my dear pal Brooke Richie-Babbage for this super-intimate and #realdeal convo about what we wish we had known before becoming Executive Directors.  Brooke was the Founder and Executive Director of the Resilience Advocacy Project for ten years at the ripe old age of 28.  We talk about the emotional labor of leadership, what we learned the hard way and some of our biggest lessons learned.  This is a must-listen for new leaders!
March 7, 2019
Episode 23-Board Management and Raising $$ with David King
Today I'm chatting with David King, President of Alexander Haas, a fundraising consulting firm.  We discuss how to build and manage a giving board, how to hire development staff and some future trends in philanthropy.  David brings a wealth of experience to the convo along with some good ol' Southern charm. Check out Alexander Haas here.
February 28, 2019
Episode 22-Your Purpose and DEI work with Jovian Zayne
This is a wide-ranging conversation with Jovian Zayne, leader, activist, coach and DEI expert.  Diversity, equity and inclusion are top of mind for so many leaders, but how do even get started?  Don't miss this episode! #DEI #nonprofit #leadership
February 21, 2019
Episode 21-Taking Your Brand to the Next Level with Emily Heyward
DO NOT MISS THIS ONE!  I'm sitting down with my pal Emily Heyward, co-founder of Red Antler to talk about launching iconic brands.  Emily is the genius behind Casper, Birchbox, Allbirds, to name a few.  What can this brand whisperer teach the nonprofit community?  You will rethink your brand after this chat.
February 14, 2019
Episode 20-What Funders Think with Carol Argento
Join me in today's conversation with Carol Argento, VP of the Charles Hayden Foundation.  What are program officers really looking for?  How important are connections in getting funded?  What makes a great site visit?  
February 7, 2019
Episode 19-The Real Deal with NYC Real Estate with Andrew Chase
For my peeps who have to negotiate new office space in NYC, I've got two words for you: loss factor.  It will make you crazy.   Join me and Andrew Chase, commercial real estate broker at Cushman and Wakefield, to discuss negotiating leases, where to find the best deals in NYC (spoiler alert: there aren't any except for one surprise location in Manhattan), how to understand the mythical "loss factor" and usable square footage and how to estimate your space needs for today and tomorrow.   You thought NYC real estate was nuts?  Well, you are correct, my friend.  Andrew is here to shed some light on what to expect. Check Andrew Chase out here and get in contact with him here.  Tell him Rhea sent you:)
January 30, 2019
Episode 18-How to exit the ED role gracefully with Kelley Perkins
For all of my ED peeps out there.  My guest is Kelley Perkins, former ED of the Read Alliance.  We share some of our lessons learned about leaving the big job. If you're thinking about transitioning out, check out this episode for advice about leaving gracefully and setting your successor up for success.   #nonprofitmanagement #nonprofitleadership
January 24, 2019
Episode 17-Blockchain and Social Good Use Cases with Thomas Rush
Join me in today's conversation with Thomas Rush, Head of Platform of Consensys.  What is blockchain?  How can it be used in nonprofit/social enterprise use cases. For more information, check out Litepaper.
January 17, 2019
Episode 16-Digital Storytelling with Deroy Peraza
My oh my!  Don't miss this episode that is loaded--I mean SUPER-MEGA-LOADED--with amazing tips about marketing, digital story-telling and engaging your online audiences.  I'm sitting with Deroy, co-founder of Hyperakt who leads his team of Hyperaktivists in helping social impact orgs tell their stories through beautiful, compelling visuals. To get hyperaktive, check out: Hyperakt Some other sites that Deroy likes: Vera Institute of Justice, Outrider and The Pudding
January 10, 2019
Episode 15-Getting Control of Your Nonprofit with Sarah Olivieri
Happy 2019, friends!   In order to start the year off right, I'm chatting with Sarah Olivieri, founder of PivotGround about how to optimize, maximize and do more with less.  She discusses great tools and strategies to use when time and resources are limited.  Quick note: the audio quality on this is not great, but the content is really worth it!  Also, here's where to find Sarah: Pivot Ground Here is a link to a video overview of an Impact Strategy™:  Here is a link to an article on using the accountability chart with a download for the template: 
January 3, 2019
Episode 14-Sticky HR situations with Chip Fournier
Whether we like it or not, dealing with sticky HR situations is part of the job.  Join me as we chat with HR law expert Chip Fournier about best practices in HR and how keep an employee termination from terminating your nonprofit.  
December 21, 2018
Episode 13-Generosity and Fundraising with Jennifer McCrea
Join me as I talk with Jennifer McCrea: writer, speaker, teacher and master fundraiser. What are the blocks that you're putting in the way of your fundraising? How do we help ourselves and others access a mindset of abundance and grace when combining resources? Are you attached or committed to your donors? For more about Jennifer, please visit: To get her book, visit:
December 13, 2018
Episode 12-Salesforce Implementation with Staci Rice
Salesforce--it's not just a database, it's a lifestyle choice. Join me as we chat with Staci Rice of Idlewild Consulting to discuss how to implement Salesforce to track your outcomes. Take your relationship with data from "it's complicated" to "happily married." You can find Staci and her rockstar team at
December 6, 2018
Episode 11-The ABCs of Your Nonprofit Financials with Freda Gimpel
Do budgets, spreadsheets and projections have you running for the hills? Don't be scared! Freda is here to help, especially for those of us who aren't accountants! Listen to nonprofit finance pro Freda Gimpel about how to understand and present your financials. Don't miss her tips about how to best present financials to your board! For more information about Freda, email her at
November 29, 2018
Episode 10-Being a Better Boss with Radical Candor
Happy Thanksgiving to all! In this week's episode, I review Radical Candor which gives you a framework to be both caring and candid with your people. Enjoy your turkey!
November 21, 2018
Episode 9-Foundation Fundraising with Jane Geever
Just in time for Thanksgiving and #givingtuesday! Join me and this master class with Jane Geever, President of JC Geever. She's been fundraising in New York City for over 40 years and wrote the book on grantwriting (literally!) Tune in to hear some of her insights on foundation fundraising. For more information on JC Geever, check out To purchase the book on grantwriting, visit:
November 13, 2018
Episode 8-Putting the Fun in Fundraising with Cleo Cavolo
Ok, kids, hold onto your hats because master fundraiser Cleo Cavolo is coming in hot! She shares with us all of her wisdom that helped her achieve 20% year over year growth, how to talk to your board members about raising money and the future of philanthropy. Don't miss this one! For more information about Cleo and her firm, check out: #nonprofit #fundraising #cleoisagenius
November 7, 2018
Episode 7-The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up Your Nonprofit
I'm joined once again by John Rinaldi to talk about our shared obsession with Marie Kondo. Listen in to how applying The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up can be applied to your nonprofit.
October 29, 2018
Episode 6-Your Admin is the Robin to your Batman
Today's podcast features my guest, John Rinaldi. As busy executives, have you ever wondered how to find a good admin to turbocharge your impact? What makes for a good relationship with your admin? Tune in with my friend and career administrator, John Rinaldi and learn how to create a beautiful relationship.
October 24, 2018
Episode 5-Get out of Advice Mode and into the Coaching Habit
Hey folks! In this week's episode, I review The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier. Ever get into the mode of trying to "fix" people by piling on advice and knowledge? How can you help people shift out of their own obstacles for success? As a leader, I believe we can all listen more and talk less: Get your copy here:
October 15, 2018
Episode 4-Finding Your Purpose with Lara Galinsky
Podcast friends, join me for this tasty snack with the wise and wonderful Lara Galinsky. Have you ever wondered what your unique contribution to this planet will be? Do you know what lights up your soul? Listen in to help you gain clarity about what your life's purpose is. Lara is a coach, entrepreneur and author. Be Bold: Create a Career with Impact Work on Purpose:
October 8, 2018
#3-Getting the Word Out About Your Nonprofit with Jeff Simmons
On this episode, we talk to Jeff Simmons of Anat Gerstein, the go-to PR and communications agency for nonprofits in New York. Listen in for -Free or low-cost ways to drive awareness -Avoid basic mistakes -Tips to pitch your nonprofit to the media
September 26, 2018
Episode 2: Creating Culture
"Culture eats strategy for breakfast." -Peter Drucker Ever wonder how to create positive organizational culture and how to root out negative culture? What about those pockets of dissent? In this week's episode, I review Tribal Leadership and how to intentionally upgrade your culture.
September 17, 2018
Episode 1-Hiring better
In this podcast, I share interviews with top social entrepreneurs, books, tips, tools and concepts that will help you to excel in the business of nonprofit. In this episode, I review Who: The A Method for Hiring to help create a process to recruit, screen and hire people better. Let me know how it goes! To purchase (affiliate link):
September 10, 2018
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