NLC: Your Gateway to Board and Commission Service

Members of the San Diego Leadership Alliance regularly serve on boards and commissions. SDLA/NLC can give you the contacts and know-how needed to achieve such an appointment. The NLC Institute, for example, features a boards and commissions training every year. Here, 2011 NLC alumnus Matt Ellis describes how NLC facilitated his appointment to the San Diego Funds Commission.


matt-ellis smallIt is a great honor and opportunity to be appointed to The San Diego Funds Commission. Comprised of the City Treasurer, City Attorney, a bank official, and two citizens, the Funds Commission is responsible for overseeing approximately $20 million allocated across several funds with the purpose of maintaining civic properties in perpetuity including libraries, cemeteries and a nature preserve. It's a role for which NLC prepared me in a number of ways.

First and most importantly, NLC gave me an awareness of just how many opportunities we all have to be involved in local public service. If Woody Allen is right and "80% of success is just showing up," I'll add that it helps immensely to know first where you're trying to go and how to get there! It also matters how far you're trying to travel, which is why I emphasize "local" public service because familiarity with your community is a huge asset. Local service helps you not only navigate your responsibilities, but find the right path towards solutions that have positive, tangible and near-term impacts (especially important for us impatient and results-oriented Gen-Ys...)!

When it comes to finding your way in civic life, it helps tremendously to first have a high-level view of the landscape. This is something NLC was really wonderful for. By meeting civic and community leaders through NLC, we got a bird's eye view of San Diego's topography – the Districts, the personalities and the issues that resonate loudest and most deeply with certain constituencies. This knowledge is like the cartographer's compass when it comes to trying to advance any cause, in any capacity, in San Diego.

If you look around at who fills the roles of City commissions and advisory boards, it's most often small business owners, long-time residents and community group representatives. In other words, it's people with a long-term, vested interest in the City of San Diego. These people are the Salt of the Community. One example is a woman recently honored by the City Council, who had lived in Mission Beach for decades and spent many of those years serving on the Mission Bay Park Committee. I think her longevity and dedication sets a model path for public service, and is one I hope to follow, thanks to NLC's help, as I start on my own journey in public service.

Matt Ellis is the Associate Director of Sustainability at CB Richard Ellis (CBRE), a commercial real estate services firm, and was a 2011 NLC Fellow.  You can view his professional profile here, and his SDLA/NLC profile here.

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Alex Southard
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