Leader Profile #1: Jodi Millerbernd
Name: Jodi Millerbernd
Title: Executive Director
Company: Boys & Girls Club of Rochester
For my first informational interview, I chose Jodi Millerbernd, Executive Director at Boys & Girls Club of Rochester. As essentially the chief executive officer of a local nonprofit, Jodi brings a wealth of knowledge on effective leadership and communication skills for someone looking at a career in the nonprofit sector.
Questions about the Contact
Jodi has spent nearly her entire career in the Boys & Girls Club movement. She graduated from St. Cloud State University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and spent some time volunteering with Americorps and Peace Corps. Her first job out of college was with Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota in St. Cloud. She started as a program staff and worked her way up to Unit Director. She then took a job as the Director of Operations at Boys & Girls Clubs of the Northland in Duluth, MN. While in Duluth, Jodi got her first exposure to resource development and fundraising. With this new experience, she took a job specifically in resource development at Boys & Girls Club of Rochester. From there, she was promoted to Assistant Executive Director and then to her current position as Executive Director.
Committed to the mission of Boys & Girls Club of Rochester, Jodi enjoys seeing the kids every day and community-focus of the organization. She also enjoys the team environment and autonomy that comes with leading a local nonprofit. Jodi promotes a culture of fulfillment, enjoyment, change, and feedback and values open communication and genuine, authentic relationships with staff and community.
Questions about Communicating for Leadership
Jodi believes in open, honest communication and a “two-way street”. She prefers face to face meetings rather than phone calls or email as it’s more personal. She also believes one must vary the communication tactics used to fit the situation and person.
To illustrate her views, Jodi told the story of a partnership that did not begin with effective communication. The two partner organizations had very different cultures, and this difference revealed itself when sharing resources. To resolve the differences of opinion, the two executive directors opened the channels of communication to flush out the discrepancies. The improvement in communication enabled the leaders to better understand the other’s organization, and the partnership has been incredibly successful ever since.
Questions Seeking Advice
In discussing how she tackles a complex problem, Jodi uses the parable asking, “How do you eat an elephant?” “One bite at a time.” Focus your efforts on what can be accomplished at the time and build from there. She also recommends “not holding your cards close to your chest”. This corresponds with her view of open communication.
Jodi always has the mission of Boys & Girls Club of Rochester at the focus for anything the organization does, a common theme throughout the interview. This focus certainly applies to Jodi’s staff and is also applicable to other organizations. No matter your role within an organization, find how your job impacts the mission, whether directly or indirectly.
When asked about conflict management, Jodi wants people to be able to say what’s on their mind. The Executive Director has the responsibility to make a decision in order to move the organization forward. But she also encourages staff to own a conflict and resolution. This promotes better buy-in from the individual.
Jodi clearly has the mission of Boys & Girls Club of Rochester as the guiding principle in all she does, as was evident throughout the interview. She loves the kids and making a difference in the community. For now, she enjoys working for a local Club and having her “boots on the ground”. Eventually she may look for a role that affords her a broader reach. Whatever the future holds for Jodi, it’s sure to have social advocacy as the focus.