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From Good to Great: Tailored Practices for Social Sector Leaders

Tue 07.18.23 @ 7:45 AM - 9:00 AM CDT

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Non-profit leaders are on the front lines of enhancing the quality of life for all members of society. Whether leading a church, human welfare, or civic organization, social sector leaders have unique opportunities to contribute to human flourishing. But their challenges are unique, and the models presented to them from other cultural spheres are often unsuitable, even damaging, for non-profit leadership.


Jim Collins, distinguished author and leadership researcher, opens his 2005 monograph, Good to Great and the Social Sectors, with the following assertion:

We must reject the idea—well-intentioned, but dead wrong—that the primary path to greatness in the social sectors is to be more like a business. Most businesses—like most of anything else in life—fall somewhere between mediocre and good. Few are great. When you compare great companies with good ones, many widely practiced business norms turn out to correlate with mediocrity, not greatness. So, then, why would we want to import the practices of mediocrity into the social sectors?


If typical business practice isn’t the right model, then what is? Collins argues and has demonstrated through his research that distinct disciplines lead to greatness—practices that can be applied within all institutional realms, including the social sector.


During this three-session learning cohort at Upper House, we’ll wrestle with the following questions:

  • How do we best measure success without typical business metrics?
  • How do we lead well and get things done within dispersed power and complex governance structures?
  • How do we best recruit, hire, and develop the right people for the mission?
  • How do we cultivate a sustainable resource engine that will continually drive the work?
  • How do we ensure ongoing momentum and brand awareness through dynamic audience and patron experiences?

If you lead, work for, or serve on a board of a non-profit organization, including a church, then this cohort is for you. Collins’ monograph will serve as a basis for our exploration, but we’ll also draw on other key readings, empirical research, and biblical/theological insights.


Program Schedule

7:45 AM          Arrive | Opening Prayer

7:55 AM          Short Presentation on Key Concept(s) for Discussion

8:10 AM          Small Group Discussion

8:30 AM          Large Group Discussion

9:00 AM         Adjourn

Program Format — HYBRID

Our in-person and virtual experience will allow for people located off-site to participate. We will break into in-person discussion groups, as well as set up virtual small groups for online attendees.


Cohort Size

15 people in person at Upper House

Unlimited via Zoom



Attendees will need to purchase and read, Good to Great and the Social Sectors (Harper Business, 2005).


John Terrill is the Executive Director of the Stephen & Laurel Brown Foundation, which includes Upper House and Dottie’s Ranch. Prior to this role, John served as Director of the Center for Faithful Business at the School of Business, Government, and Economics at Seattle Pacific University; before that, he worked with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA as the National Director for Professional Schools Ministries, as well as a campus minister at Harvard Business School and InterVarsity’s National Director for MBA Ministry. Before turning to the social sector, John consulted with Hay Group, an international management consulting firm, and served with Bank of America as a real estate lender.

John is a graduate of Indiana University (Bloomington), holds an M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern University), master’s degrees in theology and religion from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and a PhD from Seattle Pacific University in industrial and organizational psychology. He currently serves as board chair for Religion News Service and Religion News Foundation.

Tony Bolos serves as Director of Continuing Education for Upper House, where builds bridges between academia and the church and creates opportunities for people to grow in intellectual and spiritual vitality. Previously, Tony served as Executive Director of New Hope Peru, an organization that serves vulnerable children and families in southern Peru, where he worked closely with government officials, pastors, and community leaders to launch a pilot foster care program—the first of its kind in southern Peru. Tony’s previous positions include teaching at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and the Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem, where he taught a range of courses, including Ethics, Philosophy of Science, and Epistemology.

Tony earned his MSc and PhD in Philosophy from the University of Edinburgh, an MA in Philosophy of Religion from Denver Seminary, and a BA in Biblical Studies from Crown College. Originally from Utica, NY, Tony lived in Peru both as a teen and, more recently, with his family in Arequipa.



Tue 07.18.23
7:45 AM - 9:00 AM CDT
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Madison, WI 53715 United States
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