Friday, April 29, 2011

Welcome Hamilton Hill Arts Center's New Executive Director

Dear friends and colleagues:

It is with great pleasure that we welcome Doretha “Penny” Holmes, the new Executive Director of the Hamilton Hill Arts Center, beginning Monday, May 2.

Ms. Holmes comes to the Hamilton Hill Arts Center with a strong background in non-profit management. Her skills include Human Resources Management, Fiscal Administration and Oversight, Grant Writing; Public Speaking, Special Events Planning and Implementation, and Fundraising.

Ms Holmes was the Chief Professional Officer (CPO) of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Albany from 1996-2009. She began her career in human services at the YWCA of Troy-Cohoes in 1990 and rose through the ranks from Executive Assistant to Program Director to Acting Executive Director of the Organization.

A graduate of the Junior College of Albany (Division of Russell Sage) with an A.A.S. in Legal Studies, Penny earned a B.A. in Political Science from Russell Sage College. She is a graduate of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Management Program Class of 2000 and the Upper Management Career Assistant Program in which she also served as a mentor for upcoming Executive Directors. Penny is a graduate of the class of 2002 Capital Leadership Program and a 2006 participant of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Executive Leadership Program.

Penny has received numerous achievement awards for her work in the community: 1998 Special Partner of the Year Award, 1998 - 2000 honored by the family members of the Local Homeschoolers, 2000 Citizen of the Year Award sponsored by the Nu Tau Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., 1999 honored by the Odyssey Ladies Club and 2002 40 Under 40 Award recipient sponsored by The Business Review, and the Harriet Tubman Award.

Although Ms. Holmes career does not include an arts background, she has always had an interest in the arts, particularly African American Arts and looks forward to learning more. We can all be confident in the positive contributions Ms Holmes will bring during her directorship of the Hamilton Hill Arts Center.

Thank you all for your support and your commitment to the Hamilton Hill Art Center. I will always remember my years at the Hamilton Hill Arts Center with pleasure and satisfaction.


Miki Conn
Retiring Executive Director

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Weak enforcement of rules on U.S. charities: experts

(Reuters) - Authorities in the United States, particularly in cash-strapped states, have not devoted enough resources to policing nonprofit groups like those involved in recent philanthropy controversies, experts say

U.S. tax authorities grant groups charitable status, which exempts them from taxes, and require most to file annual informational tax returns, but experts say the main source of regulation faced by nonprofit groups is at state level from the attorney-general.

"The problem is that very few states have put the resources they should into this part of the attorney general's activities and the quality of regulation ... varies," said Leslie Lenkowsky, a professor of public affairs and philanthropic studies at Indiana University.

Best-selling author Greg Mortenson was accused by television program "60 Minutes" this week of misusing money given by donors, who include President Barack Obama, to his charitable organization Central Asia Institute. The New York Times reported last month that singer Madonna had ousted the board of her Raising Malawi charity due to mismanagement.

Many U.S. states are facing financial hardships stemming from the U.S. recession of 2007-2009, which has limited their budgets for law enforcement and other services.

There are about 2 million nonprofits in the United States. Of that number, just 20,000 receive about 85 percent of the $300 billion in U.S. donations made annually, experts said.

Mortenson, whose charity received $100,000 of Obama's $1.4 million Nobel Peace Prize award, has denied any wrongdoing and Madonna has said that her group was not under investigation.

Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock, who is responsible for overseeing the Central Asia Institute, said he will investigate concerns raised that the charity spends more promoting the importance of constructing schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan that is spends to build them.

"We've kept our rules relatively loose for charities in the United States," Lenkowsky said. "The reason being that our philosophy is that we would like to see lots of private initiatives that aim to serve a public interest."


Tax authorities reject very few applications by groups wanting to become charities, but making it more difficult would raise concerns about what criteria would be used to determine a nonprofit and could hinder efforts by groups to do good.

There are several independent charity watchdogs such as Charity Navigator and the American Institute for Philanthropy, where donors can get advice about larger nonprofit groups.

But their views can differ. The institute wrote a critical report about Mortenson's Central Asia Institute, while the Navigator gave it a top four star rating and then added a donor advisory warning when concerns about the group were raised.

"The vast majority of donors are looking for information that is readily available; they don't have a lot of time to do research for their charitable giving," said Ken Berger, chief executive of Charity Navigator.

"We're trying to oversee what is basically a $2 trillion part of the American economy -- one out of every 10 jobs -- 10 percent of GDP, and we are a very small operation," he said. "Creating further regulation would not be viable unless we get serious about enforcing existing law more rigorously."

Research shows that theft in the nonprofit sector accounts for 13 percent of annual donations, or about twice the rate of fraud in the for-profit sector, said Mark Kramer, co-founder of nonprofit consulting firm FSG and author of "Do More Than Give: The 6 Practices of Donors Who Change the World."

"In the for-profit sector, the line between what is illegal and what is merely bad judgment is clearly defined: Madoff committed fraud and is in jail," Kramer said.

"When one takes on the moral weight of running a charity, however, the rules are less clear," he said. "Unlike the for-profit sector, the scandal doesn't depend on whether something is illegal -- merely whether it sounds bad."

Kramer said donors tend to focus on funding good causes rather than judging charities by their results -- an approach which creates greater opportunities for mismanagement.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Museumwise & MANY investigate a joint service model

The Museumwise & MANY boards have agreed to pursue an investigation into the blending of our two organizations. To continue to enhance our impact on New York's museum community, we recognized the need to think creatively towards envisioning a new model of service. The goal of our collaborative investigations is to identify the most appropriate model for both organizations to best serve their members and the cultural community. A second but equally import goal is its potential to serve as a model for other organizations should they choose to pursue this form of creative exploration and envisioning. Member and stakeholder input are a top priority to both Museumwise and MANY. The development of an open, comprehensive and balanced conduit for member and stakeholder participation is recognized as an integral element in this venture. We will be coming to you for your ideas and feedback once our communication plan is more clearly defined. Best regards, Catherine ************************************************ Catherine Gilbert, Executive Director Museumwise 11 Ford Avenue Oneonta, NY 13820 800-895-1648

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Philanthropy and Job Creation

The Foundation Center and IssueLab joined together to interview six nonprofit and foundation leaders working on the urgent issue of job creation.

Whether you interpret the jobs report that was released Friday by the Labor Department as promising or disappointing, the fact remains that the country is still mired in a joblessness crisis, with an unemployment rate of close to 9 percent. Amidst the talk of how the job market is faring in the business community, nonprofits in the U.S. are quietly creating jobs by cultivating entrepreneurship, ensuring that new jobs are both environmentally sound and pay a living wage, testing (and proving) the viability of worker-owned businesses, and advocating for the necessity of subsidized employment programs.

Learn more about the unique perspectives offered by these nonprofit leaders and what they think is missing from the national discourse.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Abolishing Slavery in the Atlantic World: the 'Underground Railroad' in the Americas, Africa, and Europe UGRR Conference

The NYS Office of Parks, Museumwise and Underground Railroad History Project
of the Capital Region have partnered to offer a session track geared towards
the needs of museum and historic site staff during the Abolishing Slavery in the Atlantic World: the 'Underground Railroad' in the Americas, Africa, and Europe UGRR Conference.

Full details on the track are below. These sessions will address critical
issues for institutions at all stages of their development. Register online
for the Treasures of History - Museum and Historic Sites (M/H) track at

Teaching Slavery to Children - Dr. David Anderson, Sankofa, Dir. Of Akwaaba
Heritage Associates, Cynthia Copeland, New School of Social Research

How can we speak with children about slavery with accuracy and integrity
while being sensitive to age appropriateness? Learn from the experts who
have engaged children of various ages around the topic of slavery.

Telling the Story for Today's Visitors: First Person Interpretation and Tour
Development - Dr. David Anderson, Sankofa, Dir. of Akwaaba Heritage
Associates, Cindy Boyer, Director of Museums and Education, The Landmark
Society of Western NY

How can our historic stories be told so as to attract new and returning
visitors in these challenging economic times? Listen to the experts as they
share their words of wisdom.

The International Traveler: Preparing to Enter the International Tourism
Market - Markly Wilson, Director, International Marketing, I Love NY; Lori
Solomon Duell, Director, Heritage Tourism, Erie Canalway National Heritage

What attracts the international traveler to visit historic sites in New York
State, and your site in particular? What are the competitive challenges in
the international market? How can those challenges be turned into assets?
How can you develop networking and collaborative partnerships that help
sustain your historic sites place in the international market?

Abolishing Slavery in the Atlantic World: the 'Underground Railroad' in the
Americas, Africa, and Europe and its relationship with us today A Fresh
Interpretation of an Old Story

The 10th Conference on the Underground Railroad Movement

Friday, Saturday, Sunday - April 8, 9, 10, 2011

Organized by: Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region,

Co-sponsored by: The Department of History and Society, The Sage Colleges

Hosted by: Russell Sage College, Troy, New York

In collaboration with Rensselaer County Historical Society, Museumwise, and
NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region, Inc.

URHPCR, Inc. seeks to acknowledge the Underground Railroad movement in our
region, our state, and our nation, to raise awareness about and stimulate
interest in this little recognized part of our history, to understand it in
its historic content, to encourage the recognition of its inspiring historic
figures and the activities in which they engaged, to preserve that history,
emphasizing the participation of African American abolitionists and freedom
seekers, and to relate that history to us today.

URHPCR, Inc. - P.O. Box 10851 - Albany, New York 12201
- (518) 432-4432