Session Description

Is the relationship between your board chair and lead administrative officer healthy? How do you know? If you’re unsure, how can you assess the partnership? Who does and decides what, with whom, and how? And why does it matter for the health of your organization?

In this session, presented by Christine Swistro (Board Chair) and Nick Adams (Executive Director) of Cantata Singers, participants will take a look at this key relationship and how it contributes to the health of the entire organization. Chris and Nick will explore and clarify roles and responsibilities, discuss collaboration, and visit ideas on how to structure the partnership for success. The relationship among board, staff, and artistic leadership can be complicated, especially for small arts organization where individuals may wear several hats. With this challenge in mind, Chris and Nick will discuss strategies for effective decision-making, essential practices for avoiding conflicts of interest, and the importance of clear communication. Bring your own stories of success and challenge; this interactive session will provide opportunities to share with your colleagues, integrating ample time for Q&A.


About the Presenters

Christine Swistro is president of Swistro Advisors, management effectiveness consulting and coaching. Chris is a results-oriented management consultant, facilitator and executive coach known for implementing organizational change that streamlines work, builds effective communication practice, enhances worker productivity and management skill, improves team performance, and increases profitability. She has spent more than twenty years transforming organizations by guiding executives to quickly and accurately assess needs, simplify complexity, and develop effective intervention strategies that produce sustainable performance improvement.

Chris’ experience spans a number of sectors, including technology, health care, financial services, manufacturing and non-profit management. Her work focuses on providing strategic advisory services to executives, facilitating strategic plan development and implementation, facilitating team building, designing process improvement, and facilitating project and organization turn-around. Projects focus on working with leadership teams as a group (building and then following a plan of action to attain a strategic change) and with the executive and their team members as individuals (looking at their personal challenges to manage their staffs through the process and modify their own behavior, as necessary, to support the change process and beyond). This combination of group work and coaching both facilitates and accelerates the change process and enables clients to sustain the changes they’ve made.

Through her work across industries in the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors, she has built a reputation as an honest broker, trusted advisor and reliable and committed service delivery professional. Before founding Swistro Advisors, Chris served as Senior Vice President of Professional Services at FoundryOne, a start-up company helping client firms incubate technology ventures. Prior to that, she was a Senior Manager in the Financial Services practice of KPMG Consulting, overseeing a range of e-commerce software development projects for large financial institutions. Chris began her career in Massachusetts state government, working in transportation finance and planning. She then directed strategic planning and project management activities for a $48 million information technology project agenda at the Office of the State Comptroller.

Chris holds a Bachelor’s degree in Public Policy and American Institutions from Brown University, and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. A 2010 winner of the national EWGA Women Who Lead award, Chris was the 2008 recipient of EWGA Boston’s prestigious Timmermans-Zick award for leadership, spirit and exemplary service. Deeply committed to public service, Chris chairs the Board of Trustees of Cantata Singers, is a past president of Womenade Boston, a local giving circle funding programs to support women and teen girls, and chairs the oversight committee for Chelsea REACH, a program devoted to drop-out prevention of middle school students in Chelsea, MA.

Nick Adams is a career arts administrator from Anderson, SC. Drawing from a wide range of experiences (U.S. Air Force Band, Director of Operations for Symphony NH, Executive Director of Longwood Symphony Orchestra), his primary interests lie in facilitating dynamic music-making and supporting the devoted people who work incredibly hard to make it all happen. He is currently the Executive Director of Cantata Singers, a professionally trained chorus and ensemble whose mission is inspired by the music of J.S. Bach. There, he oversees all operational aspects of the organization (fundraising and development, production and logistics, marketing and community outreach).