Institute for Foundation Board Leaders and Chief Executives

June 21-23, 2021 –  Aspen, CO
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The most important relationship for effective governance at institutionally related foundations is between the board chair and chief executive. To succeed, both must work as a team for the sake of the institution their foundation serves and the students who benefit from that service.

New this year, AGB’s Institute for Foundation Board Leaders and Chief Executives is based on AGB’s long-standing and highly acclaimed institutes for public and private universities and colleges.

The value in all AGB’s institute programs is that they enhance the working partnership and governance capability of board chair-chief executive teams.

Six Key Reasons to Attend:

Step away from the day to day, engage in shared planning, and benefit from expert guidance. Board chairs and chief executives will spend dedicated, structured time together. In doing so they will:

  1. Establish mutual expectations around roles and responsibilities
  2. Delve into the dynamics of the foundation-institution relationship: focus on alignment and jointly commit to the foundation’s role in advancing the strategic priorities of the university/college
  3. Establish mutual understanding and a framework for holding each other – and the board – accountable for advancing the foundation’s strategic priorities
  4. Assess the board and develop a unique “governance action plan” for turning board governance into a value-added asset
  5. Receive one-on-one consultation with experts
  6. Share memorable moments with a peer network that can be tapped for support after the institute concludes

Participants will depart having strengthened their team, found answers to emerging challenges, and created a focused agenda that moves both the board and the foundation forward.


  • AGB’s renowned institutes are highly engaging, small by design, and for members only –so you get the attention you need.
  • The contemplative environment is suited for focused learning and action planning.
  • Lively, facilitated small group sessions reveal best practices and innovations in governance and examples of effective strategies from other foundations.
  • Chair-chief executive team meetings are interspersed throughout the program and one-on-one consultations provide added guidance.

Event Resources


Day One: Monday, June 21
8:15 am – 9:30 am Optional Breakfast for Foundation Chief Executives and Board Chairs
Gather with AGB leadership to discuss among peers the challenges your foundations and institutions are facing. There will be a breakfast just for board chairs and another for the chief executives.
12:00 pm – 1:15 pm Lunch and Welcome
Meet your fellow participants and participate in an introductory special exercise to better understand what success means to your foundation team.
1:15 pm – 2:15 pm Introductions and Setting the Stage
Meet the facilitators, review the overall institute program, and engage in an early discussion about your expectations for the Institute.
2:15 pm – 3:30 pm The Chair and Chief Executive: Partners in Governance
Learn the fiduciary fundamentals, how foundation board governance has changed over time, and discuss future challenges. Make explicit a set of mutual expectations of “who does what, and when.” Institute or strengthen the practice of governing well as a leadership priority and an ongoing and dynamic practice.
3:30 pm – 3:45 pm Break
3:45 pm – 5:00 pm The Chair and Chief Executive: Partners in Governance (Continued)
The second section allows for continued understanding of the team’s roles and reflection on areas of growth and improvement.
5:00 pm – 5:45 pm
Team Meeting #1: Identifying Opportunities for Growth

In the first of four essential activities between your foundation team, identify the attributes of your foundation/institution relationship and opportunities to enhance alignment and promote growth.
5:45 pm – 6:00 pm Parking Lot and End of Day Debrief
6:00 pm – 7:00 pm Open Time
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Reception, Dinner, and Fireside Chat with Randy Pond, board chair of Ball State University Foundation

Day Two: Tuesday, June 22
7:30 am – 8:15 am Breakfast
8:15 am – 8:30 am Setting the Stage: A New Day
Reflect on the first team meeting and address emerging topics and questions.
8:30 am – 9:30 am The New Realities for 21st Century Foundations
The environment of higher education has changed and foundations need to adjust accordingly. Examine how the board and chief executive can cultivate foundation responsiveness, innovation, and boldness, as well as facilitate collaboration.
9:30 am – 9:45 am Break
9:45 am – 11:00 am An Anatomy of Good Board Governance
Understand how foundations can understand and apply the principles of good board governance and to assess and improve their own governance practice.
11:00 am –12:00 pm Team Meeting #2: Assessing Who You Are and Where You Are Now
Identify institutional and foundation strategic priorities and begin mapping towards alignment.
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
1:00 pm – 2:45 pm Foundation/Institution Partnership
Explore the dynamics of the relationship, the distinct roles of the foundation and institution, perspectives on different foundation models, and hallmarks of an effective foundation/institutional partnership.
2:45 pm – 3:00 pm Break
3:00 pm – 4:00 pm Panel on the Foundation/Institution Partnership
Hear from a foundation board chair, CEO, and university president on how to navigate a successful relationship and the lessons they have learned.
4:00 pm – 4:30 pm Team Meeting #3
Reflect on your relationship between the foundation and institution. Take what you’ve learned from the panel and identify areas of improvement for your team.
4:30 pm – 5:00 pm
Parking Lot and End of Day Debrief
5:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Open Time
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Reception, Dinner, and Fireside Chat with Joyce McConnell, president of Colorado State University

Day Three: Wednesday, June 23
7:30 am – 8:15 am Breakfast
8:15 am – 9:30 am Building a High Performing Board
Learn ways to improve board policies, practices, and ultimately a board culture that adds strategic value and moving your foundation to the next level towards preeminence.  
9:30 am – 10:30 am Final Team Meeting: Reviewing the Leadership Team Action Plan
In this final meeting with your foundation team, you will review and complete the Leadership Team Action Plan- an exercise that brings together all you have learned throughout the institute and turn them into tangible plans.
10:30 am – 11:30 am Closing Session
Address lingering questions, share learning with your peers, and clarify the commitments you have made to your foundation team and to yourself.
11:30 am – 1:00 pm
Lunch and Institute Conclusion
Before returning home take advantage of one final opportunity to consult one-on-one with institute facilitators and AGB staff to ensure that your chief executive and foundation board chair partnership is prepared and supported for future success.


headshot of Cheri O'Neill, President and CEO of Colorado State University Foundation
Cherí O’Neill

President and CEO, Colorado State University Foundation

During her three-decade career, Cherí O’Neill has seen higher education from many perspectives, initially working for 17 years at Indiana University in admissions, alumni relations, international recruiting, and advancement. For the past twelve years, she’s worked from the c-suite, first as CEO of the 200,000-member Alpha Chi Omega women’s fraternity, its foundation and its housing corporation; then as CEO of the Ball State University Foundation (her alma mater); and now, as CEO of the $500 million Colorado State University Foundation. As an advancement leader in many of these roles, Cherí raised millions of dollars for the institutions she served. During her career, Cheri has worked for many kinds of universities: A state flagship, a mid-sized regional, a tier-1 land grant, a statewide system, and a multi-campus operation. In her foundation roles, she’s led a bank model (investment stewardship, fund administration, accounting); worked in a decentralized/centralized advancement/foundation model; and led the creation of a unified model (advancement, alumni, and foundation).  She’s also led foundations through multiple university president transitions, and has extensive experience onboarding university presidents and building bridges between university and foundation leaders.  As a board builder and leader, she has decades of experience working with foundation boards and university governing boards; helped highly sophisticated boards continue to grow and evolve; worked with boards that have plateaued, helping them re-ignite, accelerate and change; and developed strategic plans, board assessments, retreats, committee structures, nominating practices, and advanced board diversity.

George Watt, Sr. Fellow AGB Consulting
George P. Watt, Jr.

AGB Senior Fellow

George Watt joined AGB as a senior fellow in July 2017, with a focus on AGB’s support of institutionally-related foundations. In this role, he assists and advises on programs and research supporting the work of public university foundation boards, including AGB’s annual Foundation Leadership Forum, which brings together hundreds of board members and CEOs from across the country for a three-day program focused on governance practice, endowment management, and fundraising leadership. Prior to joining AGB, Mr. Watt served as executive vice president of institutional advancement at the College of Charleston (SC) and executive director of the College of Charleston Foundation. Mr. Watt came to the College of Charleston from the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association and the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation, where he served for nearly nine years as the joint president and chief executive officer. Mr. Watt previously held executive positions with First Union Corporation’s Enterprise Solutions Group, as well as IBM Consulting Group’s North American Financial Services practice. He is a 1973 graduate of the United States Naval Academy and holds the retired rank of Captain, U.S. Navy.

Registration & Refund Policy

Registration Fee – $8,900: The registration fee includes program expenses for both the board chair and the president, private lodging for the nights of June 21 and June 22, meals during the Institute, and program materials.

Accommodations And Travel

St. Regis Aspen
315 E Dean St.
Aspen, CO 81611

Cancellation Policy

All cancellations and requests for refunds must be submitted in writing to AGB will issue a full refund if written notification of cancellation is provided to AGB by April 21, 2021 for the summer program. AGB will issue refunds after the meeting. No refunds will be issued for attendees who cancel after this date. AGB is not responsible for cancellations due to airline disruption, inclement weather or schedule changes.

Institute Application

To see a list of member institutions, see the Member List.

Board Chair Information

President/CEO Information

Additional Team Member

Administrative Assistant/Coordinator

Payment and Refund Policies

Please select your preferred payment method. Upon review and acceptance of your application, you will be contacted by the AGB Registrar to complete your payment.

Requests for refunds must be submitted in writing to Cancellations received on or before May 22, 2020 are entitled to a full refund. No refunds will be granted for cancellations after this date.