2016 NCFP CEO Retreat: A Joint retreat for family and non-family CEOs

Tuesday, September 20, 2016, 03:00 PM until Thursday, September 22, 2016, 11:00 AM PST
3 days

Hosted by the National Center for Family Philanthropy at the Taaffe House in Los Altos Hills, California.

Who should attend

Family and non-family CEOs who serve in the chief staff role and manage the day-to-day operations of family foundations and family offices.


The role of a family foundation CEO is unique, often bridging generations of family members, community leaders, staff, advisors, and partners. Expectations can be challenging to meet and boundaries are sometimes vague and ever-changing. Success in this role requires a cadre of specialized leadership skills. This 3-day retreat, to be held at the family home of David and Lucile Packard, will help you identify the roles essential to your position—and envision them with new “lenses.”

Note: This event is designed and offered exclusively for family and non-family CEOs who serve in the chief staff role and manage the day-to-day operations of family foundations and family offices. 


This year’s CEO Retreat will be co-hosted by NCFP Fellows Doug Bitonti Stewart, CEO of the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, and Katherine Lorenz, family member and president of the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation, and facilitated by NCFP President Virginia Esposito.


The agenda will set aside time for family and non-family CEOS to have small group discussions on the special issues inherent in their respective roles, and will feature full group sessions on the following topics:

  • The Importance of the Board Chair & CEO Relationship
  • Private and Public Expectations for Family Foundation CEOs
  • Techniques and Traps in Advancing Family Leadership

In true retreat format, participants will work with experienced facilitators to identify topics and challenges that they would like to be covered during selected portions of the agenda. Topics we expect attendees will explore include:

  • CEO/Board chair relationships
  • Managing family dynamics – avoiding strangulation by triangulation
  • Balancing multiple hats – community leadership, nonprofit board memberships, etc.
  • Performance assessment: for your staff, yourself, and your board
  • Finding ways for personal renewal
  • Preparing for your successor
  • Special challenges for the family CEO
  • Managing diverse and dispersed boards
  • Preparing for board leadership transitions
  • Shifting grantmaking strategies 
  • Preparing for the death of the donor or family leader


  • Provide a space for reflection, rejuvenation, and “recharging of the batteries” for family- and non-family staff leaders of family foundations.
  • Provide a safe space to share and discuss real-life governance and family dynamics issues with peers.
  • Provide a chance for attendees to network and create a cadre of peers to turn to in the future.

Event downloads

What participants said:

Of all the NCFP offerings I’ve found the CEO Retreat to be the most valuable. They are limited in size and provide a safe space to talk about issues that are unique to our work. It also provides an opportunity to learn from each other and plug into a network of supportive colleagues.

Frank Wideman, President, Self Family Foundation
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