Say Hello to our Executive Committee

Board of Directors Blog Series - Part III

This is part three of our four-part Board of Directors blog series. Stay tuned for our final post, coming soon!


A nonprofit’s success starts with its leadership. Guiding Charities Review Council’s Board of Directors is a tenacious team of officers who bring a variety of experiences, perspectives, and skills to the table. As we continue our Board of Directors blog series, we interviewed our four officers: Gregg Larson, Brenda Starr, Mary Jo Schifsky, and Carolyn Deters. Click on the photo below to learn more about their professional journeys and then see what they had to say about the future of Charities Review Council’s work, below.

How did you first come in contact with Charities Review Council?

Gregg: My partner and I learned about Charities Review Council many years ago while making year-end giving decisions. From that point forward, the Council’s list of review nonprofits and Accountability Standards® became resources that we consulted before giving.

Brenda: I was introduced to Charities Review Council’s work through past board members and the Council’s Executive Director, Kris, who I’ve known since my Piper Jaffray days.

Mary Jo Schifsky: I learned about Charities Review Council from my neighbor, who was a member of the Council’s board in the early 2000’s. When I was hired to lead Store To Door, I realized the Council could be a resource for our organization. I still remember the weekend I spent digging through records to find the organizational documents needed to Meet Standards®. It was hard work but once done, made Store To Door more stable and better able to serve our community.

Carolyn: I was networking with experts in workforce development for mature workers and met current board member, Mary Jo! Mary Jo asked me to join her on the Council’s Audit Committee, and I said yes. As they say, the rest was history.

What is one leadership principle you live by and how do you apply that principle at Charities Review Council?

Gregg: I’m a strong believer in transparency. It’s important that the Council have a high threshold of internal transparency regarding board functions and activities, financial accountability, and communications. Trust is an essential currency for our organization, the loss of which would greatly impair our mission and effectiveness.

Brenda: I value the creation of inclusive and equitable environments, where all voices are heard. I apply that leadership practice intentionally as a board member by being open, authentic, and approachable.

Mary Jo: When I commit to a purpose, I follow through. I’ve rolled with the ups and downs during my five-year tenure on the board, remaining hopeful and engaged. Charities Review Council is in a strong position: We have a strong strategic plan with achievable goals. Community support is strong, the core mission is solid, and the staff are engaged. I’m glad to be here.

Carolyn: I hope to practice kindness daily and show gratitude often. On the board, I encourage diversity of thought and strive to find connectedness to common goals. My weekly to-do list always includes showing appreciation.

What is one thing you wish people knew about Charities Review Council?

Gregg: Charities Review Council has a long, rich history. The Council was originally established in 1946 to ensure citizens could give confidently to organizations supporting World War II-era servicemen and women. Since then, the Council has evolved, expanded, and grown into a nationally-recognized organization that supports donor-nonprofit relationships for strong, vibrant and just communities.

Brenda: The Council is not a “watchdog” service. Instead, the Council is a partner to donors and nonprofits, supporting the relationship between the two.

Mary Jo: Partnership with Charities Review Council means stronger governance practices and a better infrastructure to deliver on your mission.

Carolyn: Small nonprofits- Earning the Meets Standards® Seal is affordable! All nonprofits- This process will strengthen your organization internally so that you can better accomplish your mission and goals.

What does the future have in store for Charities Review Council?

Gregg: Even more nonprofits partnered with Charities Review Council. We have nearly 600 nonprofits who have received the Meets Standards® Seal, but we know there’s still work to do. There are similar national organizations reviewing and assessing nonprofits, but Charities Review Council’s work goes beyond reviews and assessments. It is a true partnership that supports and strengthens nonprofits, both individually and collectively.

Brenda: The future is bright for the Council’s new Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Toolkit and I’m excited to watch as the story unfolds. In the more immediate future, I look forward to attending FORUM 2019, an event for donor and nonprofit relationship building.

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Mary Jo: I envision Charities Review Council as the primary link between donors and nonprofit community service providers. I see the Council leading the way when it comes to supporting nonprofits, whether that be with the Accountability Wizard® or the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Toolkit.

Carolyn: Even greater impact on the nonprofit sector, through new tools and resources, like the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Toolkit. Similar to my colleagues, I envision even greater reach, in Minnesota and beyond.


We’re lucky to have great board leadership! Share a kudos with Gregg, Brenda, Mary Jo and Carolyn by sending a quick note to info@smartgivers.org. Stay tuned for part four of our Board of Directors blog series, coming soon! 

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