Habitat Board Chair Completes Harvard Nonprofit Leadership Program

Our Board Chairman recently completed Harvard Business School’s “Governing for Nonprofit Excellence” program to bring world-class nonprofit governing practices to Habitat for Humanity of Hillsborough County, Florida.

After serving as a Board member for the past five years, Mark Zdrojewski began serving as Board Chair for the 2019-2020 fiscal year on July 1st. He replaces Habitat Hillsborough’s Emeritus Chair, Anthony Brooks, who completed a very successful two-year term at the end of June.

Motivated to take his trustee leadership skills to the next level, Mark enrolled in the four-day training program at Harvard in early September with three other Tampa Bay area nonprofit board members to aid in his goal of being an effective, impactful chair during his governing term for Habitat Hillsborough.

“It was an incredible experience to be engaged with 60 other board trustees from around the world in an academic setting that was second to none,” said Mark. “It was incredibly humbling and enlightening to be engaging and learning with such an impressive bunch of people!”  Nineteen countries were represented, including an international participant who spoke at the United Nations about her cause immediately following the program.

“Harvard’s approach is case-based learning, in that we would be assigned a case study written by a Harvard professor detailing a real-world scenario that an actual nonprofit board faced,” explained Mark. “Our class time would be spent discussing the situation, how to approach a solution, contemplating the outcomes, and finally deciding how we would have resolved the issue. The professors guided the conversation all while introducing tools and concepts that would help facilitate a strategic solution. The greatest lesson that I took away from the experience was keeping our board engaged in the strategic goals of our mission. As we saw with many of the case studies, it is very easy for a board to get caught up in the day-to-day management of its operation or launch into programs that cause the nonprofit to lose focus of its core mission. We are fortunate here at Habitat Hillsborough to have an amazing and effective staff that manages the organization. It is my duty to make sure the Board of Directors is focused on the long term success by adhering to our mission: Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities, and hope.”

Prior to serving on the Board, Mark worked for Habitat for Humanity of Hillsborough County several years ago as a Construction Manager. He moved on to pursue establishing his own firm, STROBEL Design|Build, and was honored to be invited to continue his involvement serving on the Habitat Hillsborough Board.

“Our organization looked very different at that time,” said Mark.  “It was going through a transition that has enabled us to help five times the amount families it did when I was working on the build sites. As a new member of the board, I was able to see first hand what effective trustee leadership can do to elevate and grow a nonprofit by my Board Chair predecessors, Jackie Moore and Anthony Brooks. I’m encouraging our current board members to pursue this educational experience in trustee governance as well to continue the growth and mission of Habitat.”

“Being on a nonprofit board has been one of the greatest experiences in my professional life. It is truly a way to use the blessings in my life to ‘pay it forward’ and honor the people who have helped me along the way. In that spirit, I want to do the best that I can do for Habitat for Humanity, and this Harvard program was able to give me the world-class education in governing a nonprofit that our organization deserves.”

Click here for more on Board Chair Mark Zdrojewski.