ED Forums

Each Executive Director Forum is comprised of 10 to 12 executive directors facilitated by two ECofOC coaches who are experienced nonprofit management consultants. The monthly meetings use a proven process to guide the group to practical solutions for issues brought to the table by each participant.

Members have the opportunity to:

  • Hear from peers who have experienced similar nonprofit management and leadership issues and concerns
  • Gain better insights into their organizations by having knowledgeable, unbiased peers present their perspectives
  • Get fresh ideas to solve difficult or complex issues
  • View their situations and organizations strategically
  • Learn tips to solve everyday problems from similarly situated peers

This program responds to the typical executive director concern that “it’s lonely at the top.” EDs typically have few opportunities to interact with peers about specific nonprofit management and leadership issues facing their organizations.

Membership Criteria
Executive Director Forum candidates must be in an executive director or similar position on a full-time basis. The nonprofit must have:

  • A Board of Directors
  • At least two employees (ED +1)
  • An annual budget of at least $150,000
  • A commercial-based (non-home-based) office

Member Commitments
To ensure the success of each forum, members must commit to:

  • Attend all eleven Forum monthly meetings: 2 in-person and 9 Zoom, 2 hours each meeting (exceptions for travel and vacations)*
  • Participate as an active Forum contributor and good listener
  • Demonstrate a sincere interest in the success of the Forum and its members
  • Maintain the confidentiality of all Forum discussions
  • Follow the proven Forum issue resolution process
  • Periodic speakers
  • $100 per year

*We might offer an in-person-only forum, depending on interest

Executive Director Forum Members
Following is a sampling of our Executive Director Forum member firms:

  • 2-1-1 Orange County
  • Algalita marine Research Foundation
  • Breast Cancer Solutions
  • Habitat for Humanity Orange County
  • Institute for Women Entrepreneurs
  • Junior Achievement of Southern California
  • Women Helping Women/Men2Work

Forum Meeting Leaders

Some of our Executive Director Forum meeting leaders are:

John Benner. It has been a great pleasure to have worked with OC nonprofits for the last 25 years specializing in strategic planning, non-profit funding, financial management, and board relationships, but mainly just listening and thinking together with my clients.

Volunteering and assisting the Orange County nonprofit community has been my second career. I have served on the boards of: Hoag Hospital, Hoag Orthopedic Institute, Charitable Ventures, and The Cambodian Family. My business background of financial and general management positions with major national food drug chains has proven to be applicable to even the smallest of nonprofits.

Tara Norton.  As an Executive and Career Coach, Leadership and Organization Development professional for over 25 years, I have had the honor to work with global Fortune 100 and non-profit clients such as Cisco Systems, Meals on Wheels OC, Walt Disney World, Boys and Girls Club, and PepsiCo. I partner with my clients to accelerate individuals, teams and organizations to achieve their goals and increase effectiveness.

My “Super Power” is guiding my coaching clients to a better version of themselves, to capitalize on their strengths and manage their development opportunities. I work with individuals who are looking to achieve a greater degree of professional and/or personal leadership success by enhancing their leadership style, communication skills, interpersonal savvy, executive presence, and/or career development.

I am an ICF Associate Certified Coach, have a Master’s in Human Resource Management, an instructor for UC San Diego, and certified in 9 assessments and leadership programs.

Clay Halvorsen

Clay Halvorsen. My focus is on helping leaders cut through the clutter of information, options and challenges to implement actionable solutions to business opportunities, while developing long-term leadership insights and skills. Areas of specialty include team development, employee engagement, leadership development, financial management, Board relationships and risk management.

A Certified Executive Coach by the U.C. Berkeley Executive Coaching Institute, over the course of my career I have led and coached individuals and teams as a Partner in a leading international law firm, as the Chief Legal Officer of both a Fortune 500 company and one of the largest private real estate investment companies in America, and as the Chief Executive Officer of a leading environmental not-for-profit entity.

Linda Smith

Linda Smith. With my experience as both a for profit and nonprofit leader, and my advanced training in the Myers Briggs Temperament Indicator™, I can help you identify and utilize your strengths to maximize your impact within your organization, improve your team’s performance and communication and help you navigate the rapidly changing world of the nonprofit environment more effectively.

My background includes extensive merger and acquisition experience, strategic planning, sales and marketing, board growth, development and retention and fund development expertise. It would be an honor to work with you!


By far the most valuable thing I have ever done to support my work as an ED, both in personal growth and organizational effectiveness, is to join the ED Forum. Every month is like a personalized master class in nonprofits, with a group of incredible leaders, all facilitated by smart and compassionate EC of OC volunteers. I have been in a Forum for nearly 10 years, and I still look forward to every month’s meeting.

John Straw

ED, Concern America

I value and look forward to the monthly forum. It’s a safe space to innovate and dream without the pressures of having to have every thought buttoned up. I can show up authentically in the highs and lows of leadership as failure is allowed and not always being upbeat and happy is understood. The value of having a safe place where other leaders and the facilitators understand your unique issues as a CEO always allows me to dust myself off, stay motivated and continue to move forward and achieve ambitious goals. The ED Forum, especially in my first 5 years leading WISEPlace, has been a motivating force in my leadership journey.
Brateil Aghasi

CEO, WisePlace

I’ve been a part of the ED Forum for 9 years…and I could not do my job without it! I have so much gratitude for the camaraderie, support, and advice I receive from the group and facilitators.
Jennifer Anderson

ED, Breast Cancer Solutions

You have to make a real commitment to participate in the ED Forum. I am so grateful for the advice and directions I received from my peers. Their advice saved our organization so much time and money. It’s also so rewarding to offer suggestions that make an impact for others. I am very fortunate to be in a safe space with outstanding moderators that helps advance our issues.

Dennis Huang

ED, Asian Business Association

Being a part of the Executive Director forum has enabled me to be a more effective leader through shared experiences and successes. The meetings provide a platform for Executive Directors to accomplish organizational goals and objectives by increasing effectiveness and efficiency.

Janna L. Moore

ED-MPA, Epilepsy Support Network of Orange County

Through the ED forums I have met a diverse group of colleagues with whom I feel comfortable sharing my most difficult challenges in a confidential environment. The ED job can be lonely, and the ED forums provide connection with others who are on the same journey. I never fail to walk away feeling understood, refreshed and informed.

Dawn Price

ED, Friendship Shelter

Being part of EC of OC has enabled me to build greater self-awareness and has allowed me to explore how to adapt my leadership style to meet specific organizational challenges. I have also developed techniques to build high-performing teams, delivering feedback, and handling stressful leadership situations in a forum of professionalism and support.

Debora Wondercheck

CEO, Arts & Learning Conservatory

Nonprofit Management Forum Next Steps:

By completing and submitting the Nonprofit Management Forum application, you are indicating that you are interested in ECofOC’s Executive Director Forum program and would like to learn more. You will be contacted by one of our nonprofit management consultants to discuss the program and consider which of the forums best suits your needs. Submitting this information indicates only that you are interested and does not bind you to participation.