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Member Perspective: Ria Walsh

Posted Friday, December 8th, 2017

Arts + Business Council, Business Tips

Guest Commentator: Ria Walsh, President, SEI Private Trust Company; Board Member, People’s Light @peopleslight

How has volunteer board service enhanced your business acumen and leadership skills?

I arrived at my position as a board member at People’s Light through the Arts + Business Council’s Business On Board program. It became clear from the beginning that serving on a board is not just a meaningful way to give back to the community but also carries legal, fiscal, and ethical responsibilities. Fulfilling those responsibilities requires that each board member function as a leader who works to listen, collaborate, and build consensus before a decision is reached even while introducing creative solutions and challenging the norms.

Just a few months into my tenure on the board, I was asked to co-chair the committee for the 2017 People’s Light Auction. The committee originally set their fundraising goal using only a modest increment from the previous year’s profits. In my work at SEI, we establish ambitious stretch goals and lead aggressively toward those targets.  So I suggested the committee do the same for the auction. Through hard work by the committee and generous donors, we surpassed our stretch goals. My co-chair and I also challenged the committee further to change the traditional format of the auction and to add electronic bidding. While these change recommendations were initially thought to carry risk, the committee’s dedication and collaboration seamlessly integrated them into the auction to create a memorable event.

My board service also allowed me to identify opportunities for growth as a leader at SEI. Struck by the passion for the work that permeates People’s Light, where people at every organizational level are driven by a shared love for the theater, I have resolved to work toward leading my team in a way that generates as much excitement for their work as that which drives the people of People’s Light.


Ria Walsh is a graduate of Business On Board, a program of the Chamber’s Arts + Business Council that focuses on leadership development through board service. The 2018 cohort kicks off on January 24. Learn more about Business On Board ›

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