Interview with West Park Cultural Center’s Executive Director

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Introduction

West Park Cultural Center is a non-profit making organization based in Philadelphia. It mainly focuses on ethnic and cultural programs, thus considered a charity organization. It uses arts and culture as a vital tool in programs that help young people and youths handle and progress in their creative and academic abilities. The organization was chosen since it is a famous and well-known organization across the state. It also has a five-star rating, has made many achievements, changed people’s lives through its programs, and has a much-promoted culture. Their roles are to help children and youth handle their creative and academic abilities, assist families’ access to arts and education for personal development and promote culture by creating forums for arts. The paper focuses mainly on the performance of West Park Cultural Center and the answers given during the interview.

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Information about the Interviewee and Staging

I chose Executive director Betty P. Lindley because of her vast experience in chairing organizations. She was an artist and a teacher who came to Philadelphia in 1974. She is behind more than 60 plays directed while she was the Managing Director of the Germantown Theatre. Besides being the co-founder of Venture Theatre, she has held various positions in her career, such as Development officer at art Sanctuary and founding president of Business Association of West Parkside, and worked on the program and Board Placement Committees of PVLA. Her role is to direct the cabinet in charge of implementing major decisions as she has enough experience in running organizations. Working in a leadership position at such a big and culturally diverse organization cannot be easy.

The staging of the interview was limited to one session as I could not meet with Betty for a face-to-face interview. Since her role involves holding many meetings and traveling to different places, holding a meeting with her would have inconvenienced her. Besides, the questions I intended to ask would be sufficiently answered over the phone. I communicated with Betty through the phone and interviewed her for fifty minutes. The interview was mainly focused on leadership, cultural heritage, and the role of the community in facilitating talent development in the line of culture. Betty was the best candidate for this interview due to her vast experience in art, culture, training, and management. Again, I restrained from using video communication and some of the most common interview platforms such as zoom and Google. I was not certain of the effect a video call would have on Betty’s confidence and attitude to the interview as a whole, so I opted for a phone call.

Interview Context

The interview entailed a close analysis of the management and operations of a non-profit organization – West Park Cultural Center (WPCC), which has become one of the pillars supporting cultural growth in society. Non-profit organizations’ leadership by Worth (2014) provided a framework for analyzing WPCC, value creation, and social support. The interview was conducted to give a deeper insight into the factors and elements involved in the management of non-profit organizations. WPCC served as the best example of a non-profit organization following its mission of improving people’s lives through culture. The company operates through grants, such as the Philadelphia cultural fund, to support its operations. Owing to the organization’s positive impact on the community, I interviewed the executive director to understand what managing such an organization entails and any lessons she would give to any person willing to venture into a career in managing not-for-profit bodies. This interview is important to every student and graduate with a dream of starting and operating a voluntary organization.

The interview’s purpose was to understand the practical application of the class concepts in real-life voluntary services. Using a large and popular organization ensured that I would gather sufficient information throughout all elements of non-profit management. My goal was to learn how each of the chapters applies to the organization and any additional factors that determine WPCC’s success through the executive leadership and management of the institution. In addition, I expected to reach a point of connecting Betty’s roles to my studies to comprehend any complementary lessons I would need to reach her level in the future. For this reason, I formulated several questions to help me gather the relevant details. Most questions were open-ended to invite further contribution from the interviewee.

Management as a Field Of Study and a Profession

The first question looked into the management of a not-for-profit body as a field of study and a profession. I wanted to understand how one can gain valuable skills in their line of study to help them become influential leaders in a charitable organization. I sought to discover the specific courses and subjects relevant to voluntary bodies’ management. Apart from academic knowledge, there are numerous factors out of class that can give one substantial experience in non-profit management. Interviewing Betty was the best move to answer these questions. As the executive director, she has climbed the ladder from being a teacher and an artist to managing an organization serving society through numerous programs.

I asked her to elaborate on how she developed an interest in art and culture. The expectation was to have her describe her education, work, and personal influences that made her an artist and later an art teacher. Through her teaching, she might have interacted with students with different cultural perspectives and art that may have pushed her to move to the next level. I hoped to hear how past experiences shaped her career and turned her into a competent manager. Worth’s (2014) text indicated different approaches to the study of non-profit management. In my first question, I expected to help professionals in the non-profit sector and students comprehend the different paths a person can take to reach the top in management.

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Theories of the Non-profit Sector

After learning about Betty’s career journey, I moved on to the second question on the operations of charitable organizations. My goal was to comprehend how not-for-profit companies differ from public companies in terms of their operations. I asked Betty to describe her daily routine as the executive director of WPCC. In this question, she was to explain the organization’s rules of operations and how they define her everyday activities. My second question was linked to Worth’s (2014) concepts of operations and theories pertaining to non-profit ventures detailed in chapters two and three. From what I knew from my class notes, managing a charitable institution was different from playing the same role in a public office.

Governing and Leading Non-profit Bodies

Analyzing Betty’s job function as the executive director was crucial in developing a clear understanding of the governance and leadership components of non-for-profit organizations. The aim of this step was to learn how WPCC defines its processes, assigns roles, and selects executives. I had two sub-questions under the second query to enable me to gather all relevant details about non-profit bodies’ operations. One of the sub-questions asked her to explain how she felt her job would be different if she worked for a public company. The second sub-point required her to comment on the effectiveness of WPCC’s theories of operation in ensuring its success in its mission. Her answers are helpful to every student to compare what they learn in class to the real-life applications in non-profit organizations.

Accountability and Measuring Performance

Being a non-income generating venture, I wanted to know how the organization measures its performance to ensure that it operates effectively and that its leaders and employees are held accountable for their roles. At this point, I posed the third main question about organizational performance. I enquired from Betty about the key performance indicators (KPIs) applicable to WPCC and how the organization fosters accountability among its employees at all levels. This information was to help me understand how Worth’s (2014) text on non-profit performance measurement applies to WPCC. Everyone aspiring to manage a charitable organization can use this information to assess their activities and ensure they promote sustainable growth.

This interview was done for everyone interested in not-for-profit organizations. Through this interview, they can realize that every profitable or charitable organization has challenges and opportunities that determine its success. I asked Betty to list the main risks the organization faces and how they are mitigated. I sought to gather information on some of the strategies WPCC has developed and how they solved the organization’s challenges. This last question is vital for non-profit managers as they need to know what to expect in terms of operational hazards and how to mitigate such risks. Betty’s responses provided details of not-for-profit ventures, including how they differ from public companies’ management, the risks involved, and threat mitigation practices vital for maintaining sustainable growth in the non-profit sector.

Interview Summary

Interviewing WPCC’s executive director was interesting, educative, and linked to the knowledge gained on leadership and management of non-profit bodies in our course text. I interviewed Betty on the phone and noted that she was relaxed as she spoke with a soft voice and slowly answered every question asked. Through Betty’s responses, I learned that professionalism in non-profit management is mainly developed through experience and motivation instead of mere theoretical information in class. Betty described how she developed an interest in art at a tender age. Her work at Venture theatre enabled her to develop and advance her leadership skills while working with different schools to integrate the theatre across curricula.

Managing a non-profit organization requires dedication, honesty, and commitment to progress. According to Betty, the organization depends on grants and donations from different contributors and partners. Her daily routine as the executive director entails following up on reports from junior staff and establishing new linkages and strategies. She feels that her role would be different if she were in a public company where she would have to deal with production, sales, and staff management. She feels that WPCC has succeeded due to its accountability principle. The rule applied at WPCC calls for every person to do their level best to positively impact the youth and society in general.

The biggest risk concerning WPCC’s operation entails effective resource allocation. The organization was at risk of misallocating funds and donations, limiting its expansion and capacity to establish new theatres. To solve this challenge, WPCC developed a strategy of analyzing and prioritizing its needs in order of importance and urgency. With this strategy, every leader was accountable for the projects under their supervision. In addition, the organization held periodic meetings to assess its progress. The main KPIs applicable to WPCC is donation growth, the number of gifts secured, and donor retention rate. These factors reveal how well WPCC uses donations and motivates more donors to support its programs. Over the years, WPCC has attracted thousands of donors and partners globally.

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The interview was successful, and I learned more than I had expected. Betty’s answers were in-depth and well-articulated. I was excited to learn that WPCC has a board of management comprised of fourteen members who ensure that the organization stays true to its mission. Out of the fourteen board members, only three are men. I asked Betty, as an ending remark, what she would say about the board’s composition. She mentioned that selections are made based on performance and merit and that the organization promotes equity and equality at all levels.

Conclusion

In conclusion, not-for-profit ventures are founded on the provision of free services to society meant to improve people’s lives. WPCC is a significant player in the development of young talents in the fields of culture and arts. The management of WPCC is comprised of a board that oversees the organization’s processes to ensure that donations are appropriately used and that it retains and attracts new donors to fund its programs. Focusing on diversity, patience, and accountability, WPCC has become one of the top organizations impacting society in Philadelphia.

Reference

Worth, M. J. (2014). Non-profit management: Principles and practice (4th Ed.). SAGE.

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BusinessEssay. (2022) 'Interview with West Park Cultural Center's Executive Director'. 17 September.

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BusinessEssay. 2022. "Interview with West Park Cultural Center's Executive Director." September 17, 2022. https://business-essay.com/interview-with-west-park-cultural-centers-executive-director/.

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