Level Up!

Building Board | Staff Synergy

Level Up! is a new program that investigates the complexities, nuances and realities of the nonprofit leadership relationship between board and staff in an intimate experiential space. Organizations will participate in board and staff member pairs. Each pair will bring to the program one challenge the organization is currently facing.

Through a framework centered on power dynamics, accountability, facing resistance and fostering trust, organizations will examine their current practices and how they work to both resolve and perpetuate their challenge. Organizations will identify actionable steps from their learnings to bring back to their organization. The goal of the program is to provide tools and a learning space to rethink an old challenge through a fresh perspective.

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and will remain open until full. This program is designed and led by the Arts + Business Council’s Program Manager, Creative Community Leadership Development Elizabeth (Liz) Thompson. Please visit the facilitator section to learn more about her background.

Apply Here




Assess your organizational challenge to discover areas of growth and difference. Examine the ownership complexity between board and staff before identifying clear goals for the challenge.

Wednesday, June 1, 8:30 – 11:00 A.M. | Virtual 



Investigate the complications and unspoken factors around power and influence between board and staff as it relates to your challenge. Recognize when to share power, empower, and relinquish control.

Tuesday, June 7, 3:30 – 6:00 P.M. board participants only*| Virtual

Wednesday, June 8, 3:30 – 6:00 P.M. staff participants only*| Virtual

*Board and staff members, respectively, are participating in only one session this week.



Understand sources of conflict on the structural and interpersonal levels and how to maximize accountability and effective communication techniques when sensing resistance. Afterwards, experiment with ways to meaningfully repair and foster trust organizationally. Walk away with an action step to begin effecting change at your organization.

Saturday, June 11, 9:00 A.M. – 4:00 P.M. | In-Person

Schedule and Structure

The cohort will consist of pairs from nonprofit organizations. One representative should be a senior staff person from an organization who engages regularly with their board. The other representative should be from the organization’s board who serves as the board chair or on the governance committee, or a similar group. However, any board and staff member with an established history with the organization may participate.

Participants should plan to be fully present for the entire program, including attending all sessions in full, completing pre- and post-work assignments, and actively engaging with facilitators and the cohort during the sessions. If one individual from a pair is no longer able to participate once the program begins or is absent from more than one session, both participants may be asked to step down from the program.

The Intensive will be conducted through a hybrid in-person and virtual format over 3 weeks in June. The in-person session will be held at The Ethical Society (1906 Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, PA 19103). Light breakfast and lunch will be provided. More information about COVID-19 policies and The Ethical Society are in the Q&A section below.

Spring 2022 Faculty

Matthew Armstead 250x250

Matthew Armstead

Trainer & Facilitator

Matthew Armstead has recently trained Black Lives Matter activists, B Lab executives, Amnesty International USA staff, Canadian Labor Council organizers, Unitarian Universalist ministers, United Nations advocates from the Sexual Rights Initiative, among other grassroots and grasstop groups.

Matthew has organized for environmental justice, racial justice, LGBTQ liberation, and accountability among masculine-identified people. They serve as a core trainer with Training for Change – a training and capacity-building organization for activists and organizers.

Matthew facilitation style weaves in their theatre practice to create opportunities for people to lean into play and embody the futures they strive to create. In their theatre performances, audiences are engaged as active participants to co-create and play. Matthew has an M.F.A. with Pig Iron Theatre Company and University of the Arts, and has a B.A. in Theater and Women’s Studies from Swarthmore College.

Sam Chenkin Hedshot

Sam Chenkin (she/they) is a nonprofit professional, community organizer, and community builder. She is a trans woman, white, Jewish, and was raised with upper-middle-class privilege.

Reclaim the Sector is Sam’s consulting and organizing project. It is her profession, her activism, and her personal struggle. She wants a better world for herself and others deemed disposable by society. She believes nonprofits can be part of that change.

Sam helps nonprofit leaders build equitable organizations by changing power and governance structures. She addresses unhealthy imbalances between organizational leaders and staff, between nonprofits and their communities, and between funders and those they fund.

Headshot of Peter Mostachetti

A 24-year IBM veteran, Peter Mostachetti started out as a storage specialist, and eventually followed his passion to Leadership Development, and Talent Transformation. With experience engaging audiences in the U.S., South America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, Peter specializes in engagement, feedback, managing dilemmas, fostering collaboration, transformational leadership, and using Agile techniques to drive cultural transformation. Peter is an accomplished actor having performed in and around the Hudson Valley and Off-Broadway. He is a sought-after speaker at both national and international conferences, and a four-time speaker at the United Nations. As a NYS Licensed Master Social Worker, he has always been committed to mentoring, coaching, leading teams; helping people to find their hidden strengths and values with a mind toward moving forward. In his spare time, he’s an executive coach, and works with local area schools through the Gay, Lesbian, Education Network (GLSEN) to develop students and educators, making schools safer for all.

Elizabeth Thompson Headshot

Elizabeth (Liz) Thompson is an arts and culture leader and process investigator forever seeking aha moments in personal growth, for herself and others, while traversing mixed-race identity. Liz leads professional leadership development programs at the Arts + Business Council; is a current board member of the Arts Administrators of Color Network; and a founding member of the Arts & Culture Jawn, a burgeoning BIPOC arts administrators group in Philadelphia. Her nonprofit management experience is with grassroots and small nonprofits, most recently with Asian Arts Initiative and the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL).

Additional Information

While organizations may bring any challenge to address, one that is rooted in the relationship between board and staff is best suited for the Intensive’s programmatic framework.

For instance, ways the two groups:
Communicate with One Another | Act in Conflict | Make Decisions | Acknowledge Power, Privilege and Bias | Understand their Roles in a Project or Responsibility | Work to Center Access, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives | Navigate Executive Evaluation | Engage in Governance Policies | Collaborate on Strategic Direction | Participate in Succession Planning

Sample Challenges include:
Determine whether to launch a capital campaign.
How to support the executive director’s growth.
Address the lack of diversity in leadership.
How to repair damage from founder’s syndrome.
How to handle board and staff not aligned with organizational culture.
Disagreement on the future of the organization.

Apply Here

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and will remain open until full.

ABC recommends the following rates depending on the size of the organization. All rates are for the participation of two people. A 10% discount is offered when at least one person is an ABC program alumnus.

Large Nonprofits (>$10.1M budget)$1,750
Mid-Size Nonprofits ($5.1-10M budget)$1,550
Small Nonprofits ($1.1-5M budget)$1,350
Grassroots Nonprofits (<$1M Budget)$1,100

Philanthropic grants enable ABC to provide financial assistance to a number of applicants. ABC prioritizes subsidized costs to pairs that contribute to the diversity of the cohort. The diverse qualities sought will vary based on the rolling acceptance of applicants and will remain at the sole discretion of ABC. Please contact ABC to discuss funding options.

Supported In Part By

PNC Arts Alive

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