Business On Board

Business on Board is Philadelphia’s only leadership development program that trains business professionals in nonprofit board governance and matches them with arts and culture nonprofits to serve as board members.

This year has brought unparalleled change to arts and culture community amidst a pandemic and national civil unrest. Organizations are examining their purpose, practices, and sustainability for an uncertain future. Now more than ever, the business community can play an extraordinary role in shaping the direction of the arts and culture sector.

Business on Board gathers leaders from the creative community and specialists in board development to paint a picture of the city’s arts and culture landscape and what it means to serve on a board of directors. Participants will learn best practices, such as legal and fiduciary responsibilities, fundraising, advocacy, strategic governance, and oversight. For those business leaders not yet serving on a board, the Arts + Business Council matches participants with nonprofit organizations in the region.

The 2021 Business on Board application is now closed. Please contact Liz Thompson at [email protected] for more information on the 2022 season.




An introduction to Philadelphia’s creative community and nonprofit structure and mission. Hear from nonprofit staff on the intricacies of board involvement.



Practice mission, vision and strategy development, and alignment to successfully guide organizational change. Become familiar with the legal responsibilities of governing boards.



Navigate roles and responsibilities effectively by understanding financial and fiduciary oversight. Learn the current (and changing) arts and culture nonprofit fundraising landscape and the effects of COVID-19 on resources.



Learn how to tap into your business sector resources and connections to foster organizational sustainability in times of uncertainty. Understand how to use your strengths and highlight your value to enhance board group dynamics.



Apply communication techniques that address challenging situations and lead to equitable and mission-driven decision-making. Avoid the pitfalls that lead to ineffectual leadership.



Unpack today’s climate as it relates to Philadelphia’s creative community and board service. Learn how to identify bias and power dynamics in leadership and how to shift it.


Each prospective new board member is thoughtfully matched as an observer with the board of a nonprofit arts organization. This allows participants to apply what they learn in the classroom to a real-life situation, and to assess the fit before joining a board. ABC staff works with each business on board graduate to secure a board placement—often, but not always, with the board they’ve observed.


“Business on Board provided a very engaging and meaningful way to learn about nonprofit board governance, build relationships with professionals in Philadelphia, and get plugged into the nonprofit community. I appreciated the hands-on support to find a board that was a good match for my strengths, skills and interest, as well as the opportunity to observe my board before officially joining them. Finally, I found the curriculum to be highly engaging and full of valuable information – I felt very prepared entering my board service. ”

Christie Irizarry
Strategy Senior Principal, Accenture

“The mission of Intercultural Journeys jumped off the page when I was doing my research and the reality has been even better. The observership was a great benefit providing a low pressure situation to explore how my values aligned with the organization and the board.”

Ajinkya Joglekar
Senior Director, eCommerce, Comcast NBCUniversal & Board Member, Intercultural Journeys

“I’ve incorporated nearly all of ABC’s training into my professional work. I cannot tell you how frequently I reference the content housed within my Business on Board binder. It’s still relevant and resonates.”

Tracey Santilli
Executive Vice President, Tierney & Board Member, Musicopia and Dancing Classrooms Philly

For Professionals Interested in Business On Board

Many employers support the program fee as an investment in leadership development, community engagement and good corporate citizenship. Interested individuals are encouraged to inquire about their professional development with their department and/or supervisor. The Arts + Business Council is available to assist with facilitating a conversation between an interested professional and their employer. Additionally, philanthropic grants have enabled us to provide a limited number of scholarships; please contact Liz Thompson at [email protected] for more information. Payment is due prior to the first session.

Professionals who want to be matched with an organization: $3,000
Professionals who are already a board member at an organization: $1,500

For Organizations Interested in Recruiting through Business On Board

The Arts + Business Council works with over 70 organizations seeking board candidates. While more activity happens during the Business on Board program season, matches take place throughout the year. Organizations are encouraged to complete the application below at any time if they are interested in recruiting board members through the Arts + Business Council. Please note, this program is for arts and culture organizations.

The Arts + Business Council recognizes this year has brought unparalleled change to the arts and culture sector and many organizations have been financially effected.

For questions regarding financial assistance or organization eligibility, please contact Liz Thompson at [email protected].

Arts organizations who elect a participant into their board of directors: $250

Title Support


Supported In Part By

PNC Arts Alive
Your Part-Time Controller

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