Richardson County Community Association Vignettes

By H. Irving Grousbeck, Bethany Coates, Sara Rosenthal
2016 | Case No. E568 | Length 5 pgs.

Mary Jones was the CEO of the Richardson County Community Association (RCCA), a nonprofit with assets of $250 million and annual grants totaling $50 million to charitable organizations in Richardson County, Colorado.  As CEO of RCCA, Jones engaged personally with over 250 donors per year. She described her job as primarily one of relationship management, and at times, those relationships could prove challenging.  In the RCCA Vignettes, Jones’s first difficult situation deals with her board member, David Jacobs, who recently assumed the role of board chair.  Jacobs had begun to assign the RCCA staff his own small projects and, after making his “rounds,” he would sit down in Jones’s office, expecting her to drop whatever she was doing in order to interact with him.  Jones would need to find a way to diplomatically yet effectively convey her feelings about Jacobs’s behavior.

In the second vignette, Jones receives a $1 million stock donation from an esteemed donor, Leo Farnand, who asks her to hold the stock until the recently-announced sale of his company is complete.  Jones and the board agree to make an exception to the company policy given the size of the donation and hold the stock.  However, after delays in the sale, Jones decides she must sell the stock against Farnand’s wishes.  The vignette ends with Jones preparing for what will undoubtedly be an unpleasant conversation with one of RCCA’s largest donors.

Learning Objective

The learning objective of the case is to help students, in the role of CEO or manager, prepare for and practice difficult conversations with important stakeholders where they often must deliver unwelcome or unpleasant information. The students must make important decisions around tone, content, setting, and talking vs. listening to help them guide the conversation to the best outcome.
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