Expert Coaching. Practical Resources.

Our Clients & their success

Client List

Client Success


Some of Our Clients

Business Development
  • Sagehill Development Corporation, Saskatchewan
  • Surrey Board of Trade
  • Third Sector Foundation of Turkey
  • Travel Alberta International
  • Womens Enterprise Centre
Churches & Mission Organizations
  • Bissell Centre, Alberta
  • Christ’s Greenfield Lutheran Church, Gilbert, Arizona
  • Eastern Hills Bible Church
  • Faith Community Church
  • First Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Las Vegas   |   Testimonial
  • Grant Memorial Church, Manitoba
  • Holy Cross Lutheran Church   |   Testimonial
  • Holy Wisdom Monastery
  • Lake Norman Baptist Church
  • Lutheran Bible Translators, Missouri
  • New Horizons for Children, Georgia
  • North American Baptist Conference
  • Northlands Rescue Mission, North Dakota
  • St Matthew Lutheran Church   |   Testimonial
  • Stonecroft Ministries, Kansas 
  • Summit of Peace Lutheran Church
  • The Mustard Seed, Alberta
  • Winnipeg Chinese Alliance Church
Colleges & Post Secondary Education
  • Fanshawe College, Ontario
  • Northwestern Polytechnic (formerly Grande Prairie Regional College)  |   Testimonial   |   Client Success Story
  • Grand River Post Secondary Education Office, Ontario
  • Hawkeye College, Iowa
  • Jackson College, Michigan
  • Jackson Preparatory and Early College, Michigan
  • Keewatin Community College, Manitoba
  • Lakeland College
  • Lethbridge College, Alberta
  • Montcalm Community College
  • NorthEast Community College
  • Northern Lights College, British Columbia
  • Olds College, Alberta
  • Red Deer Polytechnic, Alberta
  • Southern Alberta Institute of Technology Students’ Association
  • Yavapai College, Arizona
  • Yukon College, Yukon
Conference Presentations
  • American Camping Association
  • Association of Worker’s Compensation Boards of Canada
  • Best Practices for Ministry Conference, Phoenix, AZ
  • Canadian College of Health Service Executives
  • Conference Board of Canada
  • Federated Press
  • Governance Institute
  • International Association of Fairs and Expositions
  • International Policy Governance Association
  • Manitoba Association of School Trustees
  • McMaster University World Congress on Governance
  • Queens’ University, Belfast – “Governing the Corporation”
  • Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations
  • SaskCulture, Inc.
  • Saskatchewan School Trustees Association
  • Tourism Saskatchewan
  • Western Canada Real Estate Regulators Conference
  • Wilton Park Conferences, Sussex, UK
Corporate & Business Boards
  • Alberta Pension Services Corporation
  • Benchmark Group
  • Blackwell Structural Engineers
  • Canadian Independent Stationers
  • Dipharma Inc., Italy
  • Frontenac Mortgage Investment Company   |   Testimonial   |   Client Success Story
  • Neyaskweyak Group of Companies
  • Ontario Non-Union Education Trust (ONE-T)/Fiducie des employées et employés non-syndiqués en éducation de l’Ontario (FENSÉO
  • Sagehill Development Corporation, Saskatchewan
  • Tawich Corporation
  • TBayTel, Ontario
  • Thunder Bay International Airport Authority, Inc, Ontario
  • West Yost Association
Credit Unions & Co-operatives
  • Community Financial, Michigan
  • Credit Union of New Jersey   |   Testimonial   |   Client Success Story
  • Equs REA
  • Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society
  • NuVision Federal Credit Union   |   Testimonial
  • Lloydminster and District Co-operative Ltd.
  • Servus Credit Union
Hospitals & Health Care
  • Blood Tribe Health Department, Alberta
  • Burnaby Life
  • Community Care Access Centre, Ontario
  • Community Health Centres of Northumberland
  • Jefferson Parish Human Services Authority
  • Lake of the Woods District Hospital, Ontario   |   Client Success Story
  • McGregor Clinic
  • Michener Institute, Ontario
  • Mountain Pacific Quality Health 
  • Norwest Community Health Centre, Ontario
  • Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation, Halifax
  • NSAHO Pension Plan, Nova Scotia
  • Prince Albert Cooperative Health Centre
  • Providence Care, Ontario
  • St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital, Ontario
Indigenous People Groups
  • Blood Tribe Health Department, Alberta
  • Cree Nation Youth Council
  • Grand River Post Secondary Education Office, Ontario
  • Maskwacis Education
  • Miyo Wahkohtowin Education, Alberta
  • Nemaska Development Corporation
  • Neyaskweyak Group of Companies
  • Tawich Corporation
Membership Associations
  • Alberta Association for Safety Partnerships
  • Alberta Society of Professional Biologists
  • Alberta Professional Outfitters Society
  • Alberta Women Entrepreneurs
  • Alpha Gamma Delta Fraternity
  • Alpha Gamma Delta Foundation
  • Alpha Omicron Pi Fraternity
  • American Theological Library Association
  • British Columbia Touring Council
  • British Columbia Water and Wastewater Association
  • Canadian Dental Hygienists Association
  • Community Associations Intitute
  • Guide Outfitters Association of British Columbia
  • Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan
  • Ontario Association of Adult and Continuing Education School Board Administrators   |   Testimonial
  • Partnership for Philanthropic Planning
  • Phi Mu Fraternity 
Municipal Government and Agencies
  • Ann Arbor & Area Transportation Authority
  • City of Red Deer
  • Metropolitan Madison Sewage District
National & International Associations
  • Agricultural Institute of Canada
  • American Camping Association
  • American Theological Library Association
  • Canadian Association for Community Care
  • Canadian Bible Society
  • Canadian Cancer Society
  • Canadian Council of Christian Charities
  • Canadian Dental Hygienists Association   |   Testimonial
  • Canadian Foundation for Dietetic Research
  • Canadian Nurses Protective Society
  • Canadian Water and Wastewater Association
  • Christian Labor Association of Canada
  • Dietitians of Canada  |  Testimonial
  • International Association of Fairs and Exhibitions
  • International Business Brokers Association
  • International Society of Aboriculture  |   Testimonial
  • National Dental Hygiene Certification Board
  • National Nursing Assessment Service
  • Tourism Industry Association of Canada
Professional Regulatory Organizations
  • Alberta College of Combined Laboratory and Xray Technologists
  • Alberta College of Medical Diagnostic and Therapeutic Technologists  |   Testimonial
  • Alberta College of Occupational Therapists
  • Alberta College of Pharmacists
  • Alberta College of Registered Dental Hygienists
  • Alberta Society of Professional Biologists
  • Association of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland and Labrador
  • College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta (CARNA)
  • College of Dental Hygienists of Manitoba
  • College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario
  • College of Opticians of Alberta
  • College of Opticians Ontario
  • College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba
  • College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan
  • College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta
  • College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia
  • College of Registered Dental Hygienists of Alberta
  • Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba
  • National Nursing Assessment Services
  • Nurses Association of New Brunswick
  • Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Registered Psychiatric Nurses Association of Saskatchewan
  • Saskatchewan Association of Medical Radiation Technologists  |   Testimonial
  • Saskatchewan College of Pharmacists
  • Saskatchewan Dental Hygienists’ Association
  • Saskatchewan Registered Nurses’ Association
  • Adams 12 Five Star Schools, Colorado
  • Alberta Catholic School Trustees’ Association
  • Bingham Academy, Ethiopia
  • Calgary Catholic School District, Alberta
  • De La Salle Collegiate
  • District Education Councils NB
  • Eden Prairie School District
  • Fort McMurray Roman Catholic School Board, Alberta
  • Holy Family Roman Catholic School Division, Saskatchewan
  • Laupahoehoe School Board, Hawaii
  • Miyo Wahkohtowin Education, Alberta
  • Near North School District, Ontario
  • Nipissing Parry Sound Catholic School Board, Ontario
  • Nipissing Parry Sound Student Transportation Services, Ontario  |   Testimonial
  • NorthEast School Division, Saskatchewan
  • Oak Knoll Montessori School
  • Omro School District
  • Regina Catholic Schools
  • Saskatchewan School Boards Association
  • Saskatoon Christian School  |   Testimonial
  • Stanley Boyd School District
Sports Organizations
  • Bowls Canada
  • Canadian Cerebral Palsy Sport Association
  • Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association
  • Karate Canada
Trade Associations
  • Alberta Association of Optometrists
  • Alberta Egg Producers
  • Canadian Angus Association
  • Canadian Propane Association
  • Central Washington Home Builders Association
  • Eye Recommend
  • Grande Prairie and Area Association of Realtors
  • Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver
  • SaskCulture, Inc.
  • Saskatchewan Parks & Recreation Association
  • SeCan Association, Ontario
  • Tourism Industry Association of Canada
  • Tourism Saskatchewan
  • Travel Alberta International
  • Equs REA
Voluntary & Community Service Agencies
  • Ajax Public Library Board
  • Alaska Family Services
  • Alberta Association of Optometrists
  • Bissell Centre, Edmonton, Alberta
  • Caledon Dufferin Victim Services
  • Canadian Cancer Society, Alberta/North West Territories Division
  • Canadian Cancer Society, Manitoba Division
  • Canadian Cancer Society, Nova Scotia Division
  • Canadian Mental Health Association, Winnipeg Division
  • Catholic Family Development Centre, Ontario
  • Child and Family Services Central Manitoba
  • Children’s Aid Society, London, Ontario
  • Community Living North Bay, Ontario
  • Communities Quality Initiatives, Ontario
  • Community Services Benefits Trust, British Columbia
  • Delta Hospice Society, British Columbia
  • Edmonton Community Adult Learning Association, Alberta
  • Family Service Ontario
  • Family Services Thunder Bay, Ontario
  • HomeEd,  City of Edmonton
  • Intermountain Children’s Services, Montana
  • Juno House Foundation, Alberta  |   Testimonial
  • Kicking Horse Culture, British Columbia
  • Kingston Arts Council
  • Kingston Frontenac Public Library
  • Lakehead Regional Family Centre, Ontario
  • LifeStream Services, Inc., Indiana  |   Testimonial
  • LiveWorkPlay, Ontario
  • Lutheran Bible Translators, Missouri
  • The Mustard Seed, Alberta
  • Northlands Rescue Mission, North Dakota
  • North Okanagan Hospice Society, British Columbia
  • North Shore Disability Resource Centre, British Columbia
  • Peninsula Estates Housing Society, British Columbia
  • Pickering Public Library
  • Raven Recycling Society, Yukon
  • Red Door Family Shelter
  • Semiahmoo House Society, British Columbia  |   Testimonial   |   Client Success Story
  • Seniors Come Share Society
  • Southern Ontario Library Services, Ontario
  • Southwest Newcomer Welcome Center
  • Sugar Bowl Ski Team Foundation, California
  • Thompson YWCA, Manitoba
  • Thunder Bay Literacy Group, Ontario
  • Wood Buffalo Housing & Development Corporation, Alberta
  • Yukon Association of Citizens Concerned for Seniors
  • Yukon Family Services Association
  • YWCA of Yellowknife, North West Territories

Client Success With Policy Governance

Fostering Leadership Through Governance at a Growing Credit Union

Back in 2000 Andy Jaeger, CEO of the Credit Union of New Jersey (CUNJ), was at a leadership forum when he saw a presentation by a CEO experienced with Policy Governance®. It piqued his interest enough that he immediately bought and read a book about Policy Governance, then persuaded his board to read it.

That book, Boards That Make a Difference, sparked a cultural change at an organization ripe for it.

In 2000, Jaeger had already been at CUNJ for a decade. “The board had been involved in certain aspects of the operation, but I don’t believe they really wanted to be involved at that level.” With a strong track record, Jaeger had established enough trust with the board that they’d begun to reduce their involvement in operations. Still, the board’s hands-off approach was less the product of a formal governance model and more a product of happy circumstances – the comfort level of that particular board with that particular CEO. “It wasn’t official. Nothing was in writing,” recalls Jaeger.

CUNJ was growing rapidly. In fact, at its annual off-site seminar, the board agreed that CUNJ was outgrowing its current form of governance. On the one hand, it had neither the time nor the expertise to continue to focus on means, and on the other, it had a highly capable CEO ready to lead the credit union into further growth.

The board sought help from Miriam Carver, who gave the credit union its first formal introduction to Policy Governance. Board Chair, Eric Kraehenbuehl explains, “We met with Miriam and wrestled with the model and tried to understand it to determine if we really wanted to do it, because it meant a significant culture change.”

With the prospect of a culture change, the board took time to discuss the decision carefully. “Even though we could see the virtues of Policy Governance, we still wanted to look at alternatives,” says Kraehenbuehl. During their review of several governance approaches, some board members suggested options that looked a lot like Policy Governance. However, their time with Carver had taught them that bits and pieces of the model do not a model make and would never deliver the results they sought. “I think the way we went about the decision allowed all perspectives to be heard and aired and dealt with.” A testament to that process is the fact that everyone on the board at that time is still on the board today, apart from those who’ve retired or moved out of the area.

One of the most important issues that Policy Governance helped CUNJ address is clarity of roles. Jaeger recalls, “I always knew my role, but maybe I wasn’t always so clear about what the board wanted to see and approve.” On the board side, Kraehenbuehl says, they wanted a solution that would enable what they call “the 40,000-foot view.” Policy Governance seemed to fit the bill. Particularly attractive were the monitoring reports they knew would give them the information they needed to be confident in operations without being involved in operations.

The timing was right for CUNJ, which was growing in terms of membership and deposits, while facing an increasingly complex regulatory environment. During this period of growth, CUNJ was able to implement a full cultural change thanks to the help of Jannice Moore at The Governance Coach, whom Carver had recommended. Initially, Moore provided assistance with monitoring reports, and later provided coaching as well as a complete review of the board’s policies. Only after several years, says Kraehenbuehl, did CUNJ establish a solid practice of Policy Governance.

According to Kraehenbuehl, the most important result of implementing Policy Governance has been the confidence to give more flexibility to the management team. “We had a highly skilled and highly educated team that could deliver the financial services in line with the regulations. We were able to give them a free hand, with accountability to show us that they delivered what was planned.” At the same time, the board was better able to focus on Ends. In financial services, Kraehenbuehl says, once the Ends are clear, it may be a while before you change them; then again, new technology and new regulations could appear at any time, and the board needs to remain nimble. “We make a point of going out and gathering information to allow us to reconsider the Ends. We steer the ship based on the conditions.”

Jaeger says Policy Governance has enabled him and his team to act nimbly, too. A striking illustration is the recent purchase of a core processing system that’s strategically critical for CUNJ. “I had Executive Limitations set by the board, like requirements for a minimum number of bids, a business case demonstrating pursuit of Ends, and follow-up with monitoring reports,” says Jaeger. He notes that, although his board had expedited critical purchases in the past, he and his team completed this purchase in record time and more efficiently than ever before.

Ultimately, Kraehenbuehl and Jaeger see Policy Governance as a tool for fostering leadership in growing organizations. “A Policy Governance CEO should be inspired knowing that he has full control within Executive Limitations and will be held accountable for his decisions only. I think most CEOs would want that,” says Jaeger. When a CEO is inspired and empowered to lead, customers and members benefit. At the Credit Union of New Jersey, Kraehenbuehl notes, clear roles and accountability have also made it easier for credit union members to find the right person at the right level to address their financial issues.

Not Just for Non-Profits: Policy Governance® at Frontenac Mortgage Investment Corporation

Bill Calvert has total clarity: “We’re here to make money for our shareholders.” For Calvert, current Board Chair of Frontenac Mortgage Investment Corporation (FMIC) in Sharbot Lake, Ontario, the best way to ensure the corporation fulfills its mission is to separate means from Ends and properly delineate board and CEO responsibilities and accountabilities. The best way to do that, in turn, is Policy Governance.

FMIC has been in business for over thirty years, underwriting residential and construction mortgages in mostly rural areas across Eastern Ontario. Focused mainly on straightforward mortgage types, the company draws on portfolio managers to raise capital nationwide.

High performance notwithstanding, FMIC has seen a gradual evolution toward its current efficient and effective board-CEO relationship. Calvert says that, in the early days, it wasn’t uncommon for board members to spend significant time analysing past deals in detail. Furthermore, the CEO was required to obtain board approval for even the smallest deals. “We had a director signing off on every mortgage, and we do hundreds every year.”

Fortunately, that picture began to change. Former CEO Wayne Robinson had a keen interest in establishing a stronger governance structure. Also, former Board Chair Alan Gordon was a strong proponent of using policies to govern, without prescribing any particular flavour. “We researched different models, discussed them with the board, and eventually settled on the Carver model,” Calvert said. After a close associate provided a strong reference for Rose Mercier at The Governance Coach™, FMIC began to work closely with The Governance Coach on implementing Policy Governance.

That move began a long process of transformation. The bulk of the work took place in the early stages, with the first involving intensive consultation with Mercier on the writing of policies and setting of Executive Limitations in order to “get the directors out of the kitchen.” In the second year, the focus shifted to reporting. During the entire process, Mercier helped adapt templates and practices to suit FMIC’s business. Her expertise in financial planning was an asset to the board.

Lately, the work has tapered off, with Mercier providing ongoing coaching. Having a coach sit in on board and committee meetings wasn’t to everyone’s liking initially, but the value of Mercier’s presence soon became obvious. Her periodic report cards and availability to answer questions reinforce the good habits the board has developed. In fact, Calvert jokingly refers to Mercier as “a good security blanket to have in the boardroom.”

The transformation at FMIC has been remarkable, most noticeably in the focus of the board’s meetings. Instead of looking backward at past deals, the board spends the majority of its meeting time reviewing policies to be sure they’re in line with current strategy. The flexible parts of the agenda happen early on, including a review of the strategic direction set in December before the fiscal year starts. The remainder of meeting time is devoted to approvals required by regulators, such as distribution of dividends, prospectus and financial reports and statements.

As advice to other for-profit organizations, Calvert is quick to underscore the need for commitment. “To change the way you do business in a significant way, you need to commit time and resources.” That commitment requires buy-in from everyone, a process during which everyone has an opportunity to share their perspectives. Mercier facilitated this discussion at FMIC, resulting in complete consensus.

According to Calvert, the effort required to implement Policy Governance is well worth it. “We’ve got an extremely talented and skilled staff. Through Policy Governance, we’ve enabled them to spend less time supporting board activities and more time creating deals that make money for our shareholders.”

A Small Hospital Wins Big through Policy Governance®

In 2013, Lake of the Woods District Hospital (LWDH) in Kenora, Ontario, won an award for board governance. The award was presented by the Governance Center of Excellence of the Ontario Hospital Association, and LWDH was the first small hospital to receive it.

Running a hospital, even a small hospital, is a complicated affair. Hospital administration at all job levels requires highly specialized skill sets, experience, and competencies. Although the LWDH board has always been well aware of this fact, and despite its intention to have more of an outward focus, it nonetheless often found itself involved in a number of operational issues.

When Mark Balcaen, CEO of LWDH, brought the Policy Governance model to the attention of board members in the early 2000’s, they were highly receptive. “Although they found Policy Governance a little foreign at the time, being used to approving capital expenditures and running several committees, they agreed that not enough work was being done in the community and as a liaison to the Ministry of Health,” recalls Balcaen.

It’s not uncommon for hospital boards to be involved in hospital administration. In fact, in some ways, it’s expected. The Ontario Ministry of Health has legislated certain aspects of hospital board governance, including the requirement that the board establish and maintain a quality committee, and the Ministry even legislates aspects of hospital budget and senior management compensation.

The LWDH board does an admirable job of complying with both provincial legislation and the principles of Policy Governance. Through regular coaching and workshops with The Governance Coach since 2004, the board has invested time and effort in learning the model and adapting it to LWDH’s unique environment. For example, the board established the required quality committee, delegating to the CEO creation of appropriate reporting mechanisms to enable it to fulfill its responsibilities to the Ministry. The policies have been formed and documented in a policy manual that is reviewed at regular intervals. The Ends have been defined and Executive Limitations set. “The first two to three years are the most challenging,” Balcaen confides. “Monitoring reports were laborious at first, but now they’re done in a few hours. Once you get over that hump, you’ll see that the model is working.”

Another change for the board was performance evaluations. In the Policy Governance model, performance evaluations of a CEO are based on whether the CEO has made the expected progress in achieving the Ends. They do not include evaluation mechanisms often used by HR professionals, such as 360-degree feedback.

One of the most important changes for the CEO under Policy Governance is that the model has enabled the LWDH board to delegate to him while keeping clear distinctions between board and administration accountabilities and responsibilities. This clarity is difficult to achieve for boards without Policy Governance, according to Balcaen.

Best of all, by putting the onus of reporting on the CEO, Policy Governance has freed the board to spend more time in the community LWDH serves. In the period leading up to its receipt of the governance excellence award, the board had met with a staggering eighty community groups and one thousand individuals, gathering feedback about community expectations and whether the hospital was meeting them. The board continues to use community feedback to shape its Ends, which are updated and published on the LWDH website for all to see, even inciting a bit of envy at times. “Inevitably, when my colleagues at other hospitals look at our Ends document, they say, ‘I want that for our organization’,” says Balcaen.

He recommends that any board considering Policy Governance speak with board members of organizations already established in the model; then, if the value is clear, get expert help. “There’s no such thing as a Policy Governance hybrid. You have to commit to the model as a whole, or you’ll flounder,” he warns. Consistent coaching and new member orientation are key.

For hospitals and other organizations with legislation around board governance, LWDH models a way forward under Policy Governance. “Though no organization is perfectly compliant with the model at all times, LWDH is close.”

“We’ve got your back”: a Healthy Board-CEO Relationship at GPRC

In a tight-knit community like Grande Prairie, there are few secrets. What happens in Grande Prairie is known in Grande Prairie.  Years ago, the board of Grande Prairie Regional College (GPRC) was known for doing the CEO’s job. In fact, Pete Merlo, current Board Chair, had been hesitant to join the board because of its lack of governance. “If I was hearing about it, then others were, too.” To make matters worse, decisions weren’t necessarily made around the boardroom table. Instead, according to Don Gnatiuk, current President (CEO) of GPRC, “Governance was happening in the coffee shops and cafés of Grande Prairie.”

Fortunately, the situation turned around during a three-year implementation of Policy Governance®. At the end of that period, one board member stepped down, happy, relieved, and confident that both the board and the college administration were now on solid governance footing.

What does it look like when a board and a CEO have solid footing under Policy Governance?

It looks like camaraderie born of trust and respect.

In a recent interview with Gnatiuk, Merlo, and Tab Pollock, Chair of the GPRC board’s governance committee, conversation flowed easily thanks to the friendly dialogue and banter among all three. Gnatiuk was happy to explain the recipe for success, starting with the main ingredients. “You don’t have to like each other to do this job, but with mutual respect, you can do a great job.” Gnatiuk insists that trust is also the foundation of his work. “People think that in Policy Governance, trust means blind trust, but nothing could be further from the truth. Trust means knowing that if the board questions me about something, they’re doing it to hold me accountable, and that’s their job.”

In Grande Prairie, people took notice of the change after adoption of Policy Governance. “If you do things right, people notice. If you do things wrong, people really notice. It’ll be brought up with your barber and your dentist. But I’m not hearing the same things I heard in previous years,” says Merlo. In fact, recent surveys indicate that the people of Grande Prairie strongly support the work of the board and Gnatiuk and his team.

According to Merlo, with Executive Limitations, “we can have Don’s back. In order to have his back, we need to understand. So how deep do you go to understand? That’s when it becomes challenging at times.”  The Governance Coach™ has provided support during these challenges, helping the board maintain its current grounding in Policy Governance through coaching by Jan Moore. The group jokes that a session with Moore is like a visit to the dentist. “It may not be fun at times, but you always feel fantastic afterwards.”

Even for a board well versed in Policy Governance, new-member orientation sessions with Moore and company are key to staying on track. “Human nature is to meddle. We all want to run the college for Don,” joke Merlo and Pollock. Still, they take their work seriously, which is why the board carefully screens new members. (Currently, the board is screening candidates for three board vacancies.) Merlo says, “New members can change board dynamics. They can uproot it. Most of the people who sign up for this job are leaders with previous board experience who argue their points persuasively.” In screening for governance experience, “nose in, fingers out” is the rule. Merlo says it’s healthy for board members to ask questions, “but we don’t all need to tell Don how to cook or add ingredients to the pot. We stay out of the kitchen, so to speak.”

Another benefit of Policy Governance that becomes obvious in speaking with Merlo, Pollock, and Gnatiuk is consistency. With a capable administrator with clear Executive Limitations, and a board that holds itself accountable to the principles of Policy Governance, decision making follows consistent patterns. Pollock says that when boards suddenly change their behavior in response to crises, they create additional follow-on crises. Gnatiuk agrees. “The board has been through several crises, and each time, they didn’t suddenly change their style. There have been times when it would have been easy for the board to throw me under the bus, but my board is with me at all times.” Merlo adds that, because the board is continuously correcting and holding itself and Gnatiuk accountable, it prevents minor issues from growing into major crises, so “there should be no surprises on either side.” Pollock concludes that, when the board and CEO are unified in their message, the community then trusts they’re doing their jobs properly.

The community also trusts that all is well at GPRC because of concrete achievements. “We move the agenda very quickly. We’ve been able to accomplish things we’d been told were impossible, and good governance allows us to do that,” says Gnatiuk.

Judging by GPRC’s experience, Policy Governance helps a board and an administrator serve constituencies. Although a vocal minority could be distracting, the GPRC board stays focused on the needs of its stakeholders. At the same time, Merlo is quick to add that a good board allows diverse voices to be heard and taken seriously. Also, in order to represent a diverse set of needs, the GPRC board strives for diversity of board members in terms of gender, cultural background, age, and type of experience. Merlo says diversity helps the board avoid “groupthink”, something to which boards may be susceptible, especially in a small community.

For organizations in their sector considering Policy Governance, all three say commitment to the model is key, followed by courage in sticking with it. “You’re either in or you’re out. You can’t put a couple of toes into the water. If you’re going to approach it that way, you’d be better off with a purely administrative board,” warns Gnatiuk.

The tangible benefits of whole-hearted adoption of Policy Governance are clear at GPRC, from the reversal of public perception, to a long series of achievements. Speaking with Merlo, Pollock, and Gnatiuk, the spillover effect of their work is joy. “I come into a board meeting at energy level 7 and leave it at level 9 or 10. It’s something that creates positive energy.”

A Policy Governance® Board Comes of Age

Located in Surry, B.C., Semiahmoo House Society (SHS) offers assistance and housing to people with developmental disabilities and traumatic brain injuries. With roots in community organizations formed over fifty years ago, SHS has expanded services well beyond its initial offering to provide a wide range of support to people with disabilities throughout their lifetimes. In the last decade, SHS has grown exponentially, acquiring new facilities, establishing new programs, and recently, developing and running Acquired Brain Injury Services funded by Fraser Health. Today, SMS has a staff of over two hundred.

At the helm of SHS is Doug Tennant, Executive Director since 2012 and formerly on the board for a decade. He has a unique perspective on SHS based on his experience in both board governance and administration. In a recent blog post, “Creating Vision through Ownership Consultation,” Tennant ponders questions of ownership for charitable organizations like SHS: Who are the owners? To whom are such organizations accountable? Is it to the public? Is it to the people they support directly?

Ultimately, Tennant asserts, it is to the community that organizations like SHS are accountable. His article reflects a way of thinking about human services that’s inclusive. Gone are the old dichotomies between Vulnerable and Strong, Haves and Have Nots. Instead, everyone is viewed as potentially being in need of support at times. For SHS, that means everyone in the Surrey-White Rock area is in some sense an owner.

It’s no accident that the concept of ownership is front-of-mind for Tennant. When he joined the board in 2001, it had recently begun a transition to Policy Governance®, with members attending workshops in Atlanta run by the Carvers. Ownership linkages are a key concept in the Carver model, serving as both a framework for accountability and a guide for definition of organizational vision, mission, and Ends.

For nearly 15 years, Tennant has seen the SHS board mature in its application of Policy Governance principles. In his early days on the board, the board was composed largely of people related to those the Society serves, e.g., parents of people with disabilities. Naturally, these board members were involved in operations, due in equal parts to personal involvement and practicality. “When our staff numbers were small, those people needed to be involved in the day-to-day work just to make sure it got done,” says Tennant. Later, when the board had defined separate roles for board and administration, some still felt compelled to monitor actively in detail out of fear that Ends and Executive Limitations were insufficient.

“That’s where education comes in,” explains Tennant. “I or another board member seasoned in Policy Governance would come alongside and help them understand how the model works.” Since 2007, The Governance Coach has played a key role in educating new board members through workshops.

The composition of the board has also evolved in the past ten years, in thanks partly to Policy Governance, according to Tennant. “Recruitment is easier when you have a clear governance model you can explain to potential directors.” Policy Governance is often a welcome change for new board members, many of whom now come from the business world. “They’re used to rolling up their sleeves and making things happen. It’s an interesting shift for them, to define the Ends and then let staff make it happen,” notes Tennant. “Plus, the way we structure our agendas around education and ownership keeps it interesting for them. We’re always future-focused, three years out.”

The focus on education and ownership in meetings plus periodic workshops with The Governance Coach have helped the board deepen its understanding not just of Policy Governance, but also of the organization. “There certainly was a growing period in my ten years on the board, in terms of how we thought about the model and board responsibilities,” recalls Tennant. Lately, the board has opened new avenues of community input to the SHS vision. Two years ago, SHS invited spiritual leaders from a variety of faiths to meet to discuss perspectives on people with disabilities and society’s responsibilities to them. “When we meet with owners, I can put some responsibility back on them. It behooves them to support what SHS is doing because it also supports them,” says Tennant, a firm believer that a society that fully embraces people with disabilities is a healthier and more resilient one.

Now that it has come of age, so to speak, the SHS board is able to act as a mentor organization in Policy Governance. During workshops with The Governance Coach, SHS has invited other organizations in the area to participate. Tennant also speaks regularly to other organizations about the positive impact Policy Governance has had on SHS. “I see Policy Governance as part of the growth of any organization, from adolescent to adult, as it were.”

Our Clients Say it Best!

See what our clients have to say about The Governance Coach™ consultants and the successes their boards are having using Policy Governance®.

Richard’s Clients

Jan's and Richard's help in implementing Policy Governance® has been instrumental in our tremendous accomplishments in the past decade. We haven't been slowed down by not knowing who should make the decision about this or that issue, because we're crystal clear about roles and responsibilities. For 10 years now, the board has had a healthy and harmonious relationship with my management team, even as we transformed from association to regulatory body. During that time, Jan and Richard helped the board clarify their roles with respect to organizational oversight and our mandate to protect the public. With the continual addition of new board members, working with The Governance Coach remains invaluable.

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Kathy Hilsenteger

Past CEO and Registrar, Alberta College of Medical Diagnostic & Therapeutic Technologists

Our board has gone from "problem child" to "poster child". Working with The Governance Coach has made all the difference. At one point, after 6 presidents in 7 years, our board knew it had to lead - and to be - the change that was needed, and we sensed that Policy Governance was the way to go. The change has been far-reaching, including increased staff morale and student enrollment. Jan and her colleague Richard [Stringham] work with us as a team, with Richard orienting new board members, and Jan acting as quarterback. The beautiful thing about Jan's expertise is that she has so many real-life examples to share. She can relate to anyone in the room and get the point across to people from diverse backgrounds, including those from the corporate world. In fact , in this era of high accountability and transparency, the corporate world needs Policy Governance more than ever.

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Vince Vavrek

Past Board Chair, Grande Prairie Regional College

“Congratulations, you’ve made a great choice!” That’s what I’d tell any board that decided on Richard as a Policy Governance® coach. We trust his work ethic and integrity, and we feel we get excellent value from him.

Richard’s understanding of Policy Governance is deep and nuanced. With his help, we’ve grappled with topics like regulation versus advocacy in our core mandate. We’ve sharpened the Ends to include only what’s key, measurable, and achievable. And we’ve kept our focus on our real role as a board. When an association member proposed an environmental target and a way to achieve it, Richard guided us to take that input and broaden it to an Executive Limitation, instead of straying into the CEO role.

Richard is a great facilitator who knows when to let a meeting evolve, and when to jump in and direct it a certain way. Without ruffling feathers, he’ll put an issue off to one side and come back to it at the right time. We also appreciate his written feedback—he thinks of things we’d never have thought of, things that make us even better as a board.

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Bill O’Keefe

Member of the Board and Past Chair, Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Newfoundland and Labrador (PEGNL)

As a large, thriving retail co-op, our success is due partly to Policy Governance® and Richard’s coaching. Our board went from being focused on operational matters, and making ad hoc decisions, to focusing consistently on the future. Today, as a result, our co-op is experiencing an ever-growing membership.

Richard’s coaching is subtle but effective, and I appreciate his persistence. Every time we step up to the bar, he moves it higher! He gives us a written report card based on his review of our meeting minutes, and he invariably includes additional resources to illustrate his points. He also helped our new CEO acclimate quickly to the governance model.

I really believe that Policy Governance is well suited to cooperatives, and I’d like to think we’re a role model for other organizations in this sector. We’ve got the right people in the right roles, doing the right things. We hold them to account, just as Richard’s coaching ensures we hold ourselves to account and keep our focus on the long-term sustainability of the co-op.

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Barry Davis

Board Chair, Lloydminster & District Co-Op

Rose’s Clients

There’s no more powerful a governance model than Policy Governance®, and Rose has helped ISA begin to harness that power. We’ve become a more strategic board that looks at where the industry is going and our role in shaping the future of arboriculture. If you’re going to implement Policy Governance, do it with a seasoned coach like Rose. Policy Governance is so different from what most boards have done in the past, which is why it’s so powerful. Rose has a deep understanding of how it works and how it can work with your specific organization. With no background in our domain, she helped us with interpretations for our executive director, who has clearer accountability now and is better able to focus on the right things. Staff are more empowered and confident about where they’re headed because of clear direction in our Ends statements. Rose has an excellent command of the language of Policy Governance, which made her an enormous help in the rewriting of our Ends statements and Policy Manual. When we experienced challenges with the model, Rose was adept at identifying root problems in a non-confrontational way and presenting us with options and solutions. I highly recommend Rose to help any board implement Policy Governance, achieve a higher level of governance, and empower its executive leader.

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Michelle Michelle

Former Board President, International Society of Arboriculture

From my experience on two boards, I know Rose can help any board make a smooth transition to the Policy Governance model. Rose has a remarkable ability to synthesize every board member's contribution and articulate policies everyone can agree on. That's the hardest part, because the discussions are complex when there is diversity of opinion among a large group. Rose navigates with calm and puts people at ease. Our board has been freed up from deep involvement in operations to focus more on strategy, ends, and mission—our raison d`être. Our organization can become even more relevant to the people we serve. The Governance Coach's workshops helped everyone understand their roles and responsibilities under the Policy Governance model vs. the traditional board management model, and the coaching helped me perform with greater confidence as Board Chair. The Governance Coach offers excellent value, which is why we chose them in the tender process.

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Michel Paulin

Board Chair, Nipissing Parry Sound Student Transportation Service (NPSSTS)

Anytime a corporation needs greater discipline in the relationship between the board and the administration, I'd recommend working with Rose and The Governance Coach to implement the Carver governance model. Implementing the Carver model isn't something you can do alone. Rose made it easy for us. First, she took the time to understand our business; then, she carefully tailored the Policy Governance® model to suit our corporate structure - and that work was truly exceptional. We've been in business for over 30 years, and Rose helped us leave behind bad habits we'd developed. We're here to generate a return for shareholders. When we see the market is changing, we need to act quickly. Rose is proactive, like us, with the flexibility to change as needed. She held our hands through changes and complexity, and was firm when she needed to be, too. You can see results in the efficiency of our board meetings, in our reports, and in the daily business of the corporation. Where we used to be down in the weeds, now we're freed up to do strategic work instead of reviewing individual deals, which really is the work of our highly qualified administration. Even board members who were skeptical at first see the value of retaining Rose. In fact, we still retain her on an ongoing basis, which she has never pushed on us. Rose's ongoing coaching helps keep us on track.

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Bill Calvert

Former Board Chair, Frontenac Mortgage Investment Corporation

Thanks to Rose, we're a different - a better - board. The best learning happens working through challenges with a coach, and that's why we chose Rose and The Governance Coach™ - that unique blend of ongoing coaching and assistance with implementing the Policy Governance® process. Rose helped us stay focused on our ends and what we're about, always non-judgmental, always bringing it back to the governance model. Every question we had, Rose answered with a well-researched response, and her advisory reports on our minutes have improved our meetings and our minutes. Workshops were tailored and specific to our board, never cookie-cutter. The positive impact on our board has been so profound, we've decided to forgo conferences this year to invest in continuing our work with Rose.

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Theresa Harper-Dubé

Former Chief Governance Officer/Board Chair, Ontario Association of Continuing and Adult Education Administrators

I recommend Rose for organizations that are transitioning to Policy Governance or that need to review and enhance their current Policy Governance policies. We engaged Rose to facilitate our strategic planning and to develop a process that included two strategic planning committee meetings and a plenary session involving staff and volunteers that brought in the work of the committees. We selected Rose because of her knowledge of Policy Governance® and her professional style which suits our organization's culture. Her expertise was key to the high quality of the end product, our final report. For example, as we worked through the strategic planning process, it became evident that some revisions were required for the "Ends", and Rose prepared an additional report with recommendations for changes to the Ends. As a facilitator, Rose is thoughtful and listens well, adapting and pulling everyone's ideas back into Policy Governance framework. Her key strength is her ability to assimilate information from a wide range of sources and write a comprehensive, coherent, and thoughtful report.

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Ondina Love

CEO, Canadian Dental Hygienists Association

Rose is passionate about teaching Policy Governance®, and she cares about her clients, which makes her a wonderful coach. The key results we’ve seen include a true understanding of our clients (owners) and our Ends, along with the ability to determine what is important to monitor as progress toward those Ends. At virtually every board meeting now, we have a robust discussion about our role and how the board is going to add value. Within just a few years, Rose has helped us go from zero to an in-depth understanding of the Policy Governance® model and the distinct roles of the board versus management. Rose’s board orientation sessions and manual have been well received. There’s tremendous support for continuing this work, which does a great job at getting across to new board members that we’re looking for thinkers, not helpers. Red Door faces significant challenges, but Policy Governance® has given us a solid framework and a firm footing to address them head on.

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Ann Elliott

Board Chair, Red Door Family Shelter

Jannice’s Clients

I have worked with Jannice Moore in two different organizations in my capacity as CEO. In my first experience of working with Jan, she helped our Board and me to further our use of Policy Governance as a tool to ensure that great results (Ends) were achieved for our members. At my current organization, Jannice has been instrumental in educating our Board and helping them implement the Policy Governance model. She offers a great conceptual understanding, fantastic group facilitation skills, and practical advice on using the model with an eye always toward the reality of how people work together. I highly recommend Jannice Moore as a governance consultant.

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Roger Ballard

CEO NuVision Financial Credit Union

I’ve worked with Jan on Policy Governance in both board and management roles over more than a decade. Under Jan’s guidance, our board has matured from being involved in operations to focusing on vision and ends. Jan helps new board members fit more easily in their roles knowing that they're doing their jobs when they focus on vision and refrain from getting directly involved in operations. Board meetings are driven by the agenda. At the same time, our management team is better able to do innovative forward-looking work, like building new housing for people with disabilities. Jan’s help in implementing Policy Governance has made it easier for us to achieve all this and stay at the forefront of social services.

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Doug Tennant

Executive Director, Former Board Chair, Semiahmoo House Society

Our Board of Directors adopted Policy Governance in the fall of 2002. The first two and a half years were primarily for getting comfortable with Policy Governance. In the fall of the third year, our Board brought in Jannice Moore to conduct a Policy Governance workshop. She demonstrated a very high level of understanding and knowledge of Policy Governance and helped the Board look to the future. The Board was so impressed with Jannice's knowledge and capability they hired her to be their monthly Governance Coach. Her regular reviews of our PG work along with an annual workshop are helping us to stay focused and be the best we can be for our ownership.

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Andrew L. Jaeger

Presidet & CEO Credit Union of New Jersey

Our board has gone from "problem child" to "poster child". Working with The Governance Coach has made all the difference. At one point, after 6 presidents in 7 years, our board knew it had to lead - and to be - the change that was needed, and we sensed that Policy Governance was the way to go. The change has been far-reaching, including increased staff morale and student enrollment. Jan and her colleague Richard [Stringham] work with us as a team, with Richard orienting new board members, and Jan acting as quarterback. The beautiful thing about Jan's expertise is that she has so many real-life examples to share. She can relate to anyone in the room and get the point across to people from diverse backgrounds, including those from the corporate world. In fact , in this era of high accountability and transparency, the corporate world needs Policy Governance more than ever.

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Vince Vavrek

Past Board Chair, Grande Prairie Regional College

Jan's and Richard's help in implementing Policy Governance® has been instrumental in our tremendous accomplishments in the past decade. We haven't been slowed down by not knowing who should make the decision about this or that issue, because we're crystal clear about roles and responsibilities. For 10 years now, the board has had a healthy and harmonious relationship with my management team, even as we transformed from association to regulatory body. During that time, Jan and Richard helped the board clarify their roles with respect to organizational oversight and our mandate to protect the public. With the continual addition of new board members, working with The Governance Coach remains invaluable.

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Kathy Hilsenteger

Past CEO and Registrar Alberta College of Medical Diagnostic & Therapeutic Technologists

I have been working with Boards of Directors for over thirty years. I have dealt with many consultants and other “experts” on board governance. Policy Governance is clearly the only way to go. It is 100% on target and is beneficial to board members, the CEO, staff and your clients. You could not be better served to meet your mission than by working with Jannice Moore. She understands your duties and needs of the agency. She can make you wildly successful and know that you are “on target” in regards to meeting your mission. Why else are you there?

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Kenneth D. Adkins

Former President/CEO, LifeStream Services, Inc. Indiana

Andrew’s Clients

I was impressed by what Policy Governance®could do, and we wanted someone who is Carver-trained, so that’s why we chose The Governance Coach. So far, we’ve made a lot of headway in defining the respective roles of board members and key employees, and in bringing intentionality to what it means to govern. The chief outcome of the workshops and coaching that Andrew provided is that we speak using a common language when we talk about policy and the role of governance vs. management. We’re on the same page now. Every board has turnover, so in the future, Policy Governance will be part of the solution for better orientation of new board members and for attracting the right candidates. They'll know what is expected of them and be inspired to lead by governing.

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David Harris

Executive Director, Saskatoon Christian School

Working with Andrew was a really good use of time and money. Because he did his homework up front, we were able to jump right into the work at hand. We got the result we wanted, which was to have common expectations and a clear understanding of our roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities. We're excited about moving forward to the next phase because we're in a stronger position to achieve our goal of increased capacity. Juno House Foundation has an unusual organizational model, so proper governance is especially critical for us. Andrew knew we were a different kettle of fish and never tried to fit us into a box. He adapted the Carver model to us and made it work for us. Andrew has a phenomenal ability to read people. He can see when someone needs to go through a discovery process, and instead of steering them onto a prescribed path, he guides them with Carver model language and concepts, combining that with each person's experience. He's respectful and considerate, as well as an expert at guiding the conversation to where it needs to go.

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Julie George

Board Chair, Juno House Foundation

We chose The Governance Coach because they offer complete solutions for Policy Governance. Because we're both the regulatory body and the professional services organization for medical radiation technologists in Saskatchewan, we need to govern through principles, which makes Policy Governance such a great fit. We see it as an investment, not a quick fix, and we're confident it will help us be more successful. Andrew's workshops have been well-received by everyone, and he's a good presenter that uses relevant anecdotes that get the point across and keep it interesting. We've begun to develop executive limitation and governance policies. The results we expect are clear accountability of the CEO to Council, and a stronger focus of Council on policy and strategy.

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Peter Derrick

Council President, Saskatchewan Association of Medical Radiation Technologists

Paul’s Clients

Paul has been a real joy to work with. He’s been coaching both staff and board as we apply Policy Governance®. The level of rigor and detail in his feedback is challenging us, which is precisely what we want. Paul is a gifted educator who can identify many of the pitfalls to which we may succumb, and he has provided us with resources to help us learn and grow, as well as reports that are extremely helpful in driving improvement. Paul’s ability to respond quickly has been a blessing to both the board and staff, especially when we’re in the middle of an urgent decision or process and need his insight. The result is that we have a clear delineation of roles. The board is no longer wondering who is responsible for what. We’re seeing a new sense of urgency around results and Ends. We’re also seeing new processes, metrics, and data gathering to report on the Ends monitoring. The other result is that we’re planning the board’s work multiple years in advance, which isn’t something we’ve done before. The last and most important piece is that the board is freed up to focus on our number one job, which is to engage with owners and learn from them.

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Jack Preus

Chief Governance Officer, Christ’s Greenfield Lutheran Church

Our board is elated with Paul’s leadership every step of the way. We highly endorse him to any board seeking a facilitator and coach to help them make the change to Policy Governance®. Moving from lay-led governance to Policy Governance, our board realized early on that we needed a coach to help us experience the full benefits of the new model. Having been a lay leader and a Policy Governance coach in various congregations, Paul knew the challenges this move would entail. He has a gift for laying out a vision and helping others discover its merits for themselves. At times, we wanted to stray from the model, but Paul kept us pointed to our true north and the outcome we wanted to achieve. Now, for the first time in the history of St. Matthew Lutheran Church, we have a complete and comprehensive set of policies. Throughout his engagement with us, Paul demonstrated strong, positive leadership. Paul cares about people. Like a true servant-leader, he seeks to bring out the best in everyone for sustainable long-term results.

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Ray Day

Board Chair, St. Matthew Lutheran Church, Westland, Michigan

You’re getting the best when you get Paul. He gives you everything he’s got to give with respect to Policy Governance®. At Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Paul has been involved in Policy Governance from the beginning. Recently, he helped our board with a Policy Governance tune-up and walked us through a policy rewrite. He led this major effort with energy, experience, insight, and a potent combination of intellect and passion. They say there are pointers and there are painters. Paul effectively plays both roles. He both helped us realize the significant organizational shift of Policy Governance and drilled down into specifics because he possesses a profound grasp and appreciation of its principles and possibilities. Paul brought a powerful and focused intellect to bear in helping us grow in organizational effectiveness. He spent all-day sessions helping us define the Ends and Means, and he’s got the mental and physical endurance to keep us on track through that process resulting in clear accomplishment and a quality, workable product at the end of the day. Paul is also dedicated and trustworthy with very high ethics. He understands churches and has a passion for seeing churches be as effective as they can. Any organization that seeks to implement Policy Governance would benefit from working with Paul.

The Rev. Thomas R. Ahlersmeyer, Ph.D.

Senior Pastor, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Welcome to The Governance Coach™

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Policy Governance® Virtual Workshops

Introduction to Policy Governance® start dates:  October 2 & November 6

Assessing Monitoring Reports start date: October 17

Registration is limited, so register early!

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