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Mdo Community Champions

Find out who we’re celebrating as this month’s Community Champion


Our featured champions are dedicated leaders working in nonprofits who have been nominated for their innovation, resilience, dedication and empathy in the face of a complex and ever-changing world. Beth Finch is recognized this month as a Community Champion.

Community champions

Would you like to nominate someone for our Diligent Community Champions? Nominate them here

June’s Community Champion

Name: Ruth Shirley

Title: Executive Administrator & Board Liaison

Organization: CUES

About our Community Champion

Ruth is a highly skilled executive assistant and board liaison who has served CUES, the Credit Union Executives Society, for seven years. She cultivated her talents in governance management, budgeting, event planning and customer service during her time in the financial services and nonprofit sectors.

Ruth also serves on the board of Share Inform Enlighten, Inc, a New York-based nonprofit that empowers families through education. In her spare time, Ruth is a self-proclaimed foodie who loves to cook, dance and travel.

As a leading talent development organization, CUES helps credit union boards achieve peak governance practices through events, offerings and online learning tools. Ruth’s contributions are instrumental to its success.

“Good governance fosters public confidence and is vital to building a strong foundation for future success,” Ruth says. “Good governance encapsulates a company’s mission. It includes open and transparent practices, robust risk management, legal compliance, guidelines for ethical conduct and decision-making and more.”

May’s Community Champion

Name: Beth Finch

Title: Founder, Executive Director

Organization: CharterSource

beth finch

About our Community Champion

Beth Finch is one of the founders of Lake Country Academy, a Pre-K4 through 8th-grade school in Wisconsin. She is also the former Board Chair of KIPP Minnesota, serving for over five years, supporting the growth and facilitating the strategy to launch the opening of the KIPP elementary school. As Founder and Executive Director of CharterSource, Beth leads the organization in its mission to create more high-quality education options for communities.

Beth has served on multiple other boards including Lake Country Academy, Mounds Park Academy, Wilderness Inquiry and the founding board of Great MN Schools, and she continues to serve on the Great MN Schools Advisory Board. She is a graduate of the College of St. Benedicts and resides in the east metro with her husband and children.

Beth’s commitment to fostering opportunity and equality in education along with her role on the boards of several educational and community organizations showcases not only her willingness to serve, but also her exceptional ability to lead with compassion and foresight. We acknowledge her dedication and the profound impact she has had on ensuring that education remains an equal playing field for Minnesotan students.

Beth says, “I believe good governance comprises collaboration, transparency, and accountability. It must encompass bringing all stakeholders together around the mission and strategy with a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities. Equally as important is striving to gain deeper skills and practices to be most effective including the space for generative discussion and a strong leadership and board chair thought partnership.”

April’s Community Champion

Name: Carissa Burgett

Title: Executive Assistant to the President and Board Administrator

Organization: Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry

Carissa Burgett

About our Community Champion

Carissa is a dynamic and dedicated C-suite assistant and board administrator with a passion for board governance and a relentless drive for excellence. As an active member of the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), she proudly serves as a director-at-large on the IAAP Foundation Board, contributing to the advancement of administrative professionals worldwide. In recognition of her outstanding contributions within her organization and across her profession, she was honored to be a finalist for three prestigious administrative awards, two of which were international, including the Assistant of the Year and Strategic Partnership awards. A significant focus of her work is dedicated to board governance and managing a board of 65 directors. As an ambassador for her profession and in her quest to empower others, she has been interviewed for multiple podcasts and magazines and actively trains and speaks on behalf of the admin community, board secretaries and administrators across the world.

We are delighted to announce Carissa as one of our Community Champions, for her unwavering commitment to excellence and her exceptional contributions to the realm of board governance and administrative professionalism. Her dedication to managing a board of 65 directors showcases her capacity to lead with grace. Carissa’s passion for empowering her peers, coupled with her contributions to the profession through speaking engagements, podcasts and articles, embody the spirit of Diligent Community Champions.

March’s Community Champion

Name: Ericka Rodriguez

Title: Executive Assistant to the CEO

Organization: YMCA of the USA
ericka rodriguez

About our Community Champion

Ericka Rodriguez is an experienced and highly motivated administrative professional with advanced skills in project management, board governance and best practice implementation. She enjoys managing large projects within innovative, community-based organizations, using her skills to effect positive change.

Ericka received her BA in Social and Cultural Analysis from New York University and has a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago, with a concentration in Non Profit Management. She has worked at YMCA of the USA for eight years supporting its national governance system, particularly as it involves the Y-USA National Board of Directors, its standing committees, advisory committees and task forces.

Good governance means creating an atmosphere where board volunteers are fully equipped with the resources and information necessary to lead the strategic vision of the organization – Ericka Rodriguez, Executive Assistant to the CEO, YMCA of the USA

Ericka’s motivation, advanced skills and dedication to bettering the communities served by YMCA are an inspiration to other nonprofit leaders. Ericka exemplifies the qualities of a true community champion. Congratulations on this well-deserved honor!

February’s Community Champion

Name: Elizabeth Thompson

Title: Executive Assistant, Corporate Secretary & Corporate Compliance Officer

Organization: Presbyterian SeniorCare Network

diligent community champions

About our Community Champion

Elizabeth Thompson is an executive assistant with over 38 years of experience in corporate, nonprofit, foundation, and healthcare environments. She is skilled in board governance and support, C-level executive assistance, supervision, office management, project coordination, presentation design and meeting planning. Since October 1999, she has been the Executive Assistant to the President of Presbyterian SeniorCare Network, she was appointed Secretary to the Board of Directors in May 2019, and she became the Corporate Compliance Officer in April 2022. She holds certification as an Officer of Healthcare Compliance by the American Institute of Healthcare Compliance, Inc. Elizabeth previously worked at The Pittsburgh Foundation and Federated Investors, and is a graduate of Bradford School of Business, Pittsburgh, PA.

Elizabeth is being recognized as we believe she embodies the true spirit of a Community Champion. She has been a pillar of Presbyterian SeniorCare Network for 25 years. After she took on the crucial role of Corporate Compliance Officer, she has demonstrated her unwavering commitment to ethical and responsible practices. Elizabeth is always happy to share her experience for the benefit of others, including speaking and sharing tips at Diligent’s 2023 user conference.

We celebrate Elizabeth as a true champion who embodies excellence, dedication and a commitment to positive impact. Thank you for being a shining example of leadership and community spirit!

January’s Community Champion

Name: Kara Klement

Title: Director, Governance Services

Organization: Texas Health Resources

kara klement

About our Community Champion

Kara Klement is a corporate governance professional with over ten years of experience working with nonprofit boards and committees. She currently serves as the Director of Governance Services for Texas Health Resources, a large nonprofit health system in North Texas, overseeing over 40 boards and committees. Kara holds Bachelor of Arts and Master of Science degrees from Baylor University and resides in the Dallas metroplex with her husband and two active children.

Kara is being recognized for her dedication to her role but also, we particularly love that Kara is keen to share best practices with other nonprofits, often speaking at events to share her experience. For the BoardEffect team, Kara models good governance and is integral to the success of her organization and delivering its mission.

We are a large healthcare system. We have about 29,000 employees and 14 wholly owned hospitals with around 400 points of service for our consumers, and we are invested in improving the lives of people in the communities we serve. Our mission is always to improve people’s health and wellbeing. And I support our boards and entities that do that. – Kara Klements.

Congratulations Kara!

Community champions

Would you like to nominate someone for our Diligent Community Champions? Nominate them here 

Jill Holtz

Jill is a Content Strategy Manager at Diligent. Her strategy background and content expertise working across a variety of sectors, including education, non-profit and with local government partners, allows her to provide unique insights for organizations looking to achieve modern governance.

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