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March 5, 2020

23: Driving from the Backseat: Nonprofit Leadership Lessons (Ronnie Bryant)

23: Driving from the Backseat: Nonprofit Leadership Lessons (Ronnie Bryant)

023: Driving from the Backseat: Nonprofit Leadership Lessons (Ronnie Bryant)


The title of Ronnie Bryant’s nonprofit leadership book says it all: Driving from the Backseat.  It’s a wonderful illustration of the skill and finesse required by Executive Directors as they steer their organization along but allow a whole group of board members to sit in the front seat and “drive.”  My conversation with Ronnie was just as enjoyable as reading his book, full of insight, experience and practical advice for those trying to move ahead on the nonprofit leadership path.  We discussed what he learned as a “lateral entry” coming from the for-profit sector into nonprofit leadership, what key attributes he looks for in hiring and promoting staff, and especially how he navigated the nuances of board relations as a nonprofit CEO.  


Ronnie is Founder and Lead Consultant at Ronnie L. Bryant, LLC, a consulting firm specializing in executive coaching, organizational management, and board development and training for top-level corporate and nonprofit managers.  Prior to forming Ronnie L. Bryant, LLC, Bryant served as President & CEO of Charlotte Regional Partnership in North Carolina,  following executive positions at Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce (Louisiana), St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association (Missouri), and Pittsburgh Regional Alliance (Pennsylvania). Bryant quickly became one of the nation’s most sought-after economic developers, piquing the interests of Charlotte business leaders, who hired him to lead Charlotte Regional Partnership in 2005.  Bryant currently serves on the boards of several nonprofits, including the American Leadership Forum, Aspire Community Capital, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont, and Jazz Arts CharlotteHe is a faculty member for the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute, an adjunct professor for UNC Charlotte, and serves as a Visiting Lecturer at Cornell University’s Institute for Public Affairs. He earned a B.S. in business management from Louisiana State University in Shreveport and was a fellow at The Center for Intentional Leadership® at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.