The Importance of Joining a Board

Posted by on Apr 18, 2017 in Entrepreneur Thoughts, Lessons | 0 comments

Many young professionals who launch a career consider three things before starting:

  • Can I support myself financially doing this work?
  • Will I like doing this work?
  • Am I offering the world some type of benefit by doing this work?

Often for motivated career professionals, these questions never stop. In fact, Presidents and CEOs of major companies ask themselves these types of questions annually. The search to find that perfect balance between happy and doing good becomes a lifelong quest.

The Ballast Group’s founder, Kellee Johnson, offers insights on best practices to keep your game in equilibrium. Her advice? Define your “why” or purpose. Then find one or two causes you are most passionate about and pursue only the boards of organizations that support those passions. In Johnson’s case, she chooses organizations committed to education and healthcare.

When people and professionals are asked to join or support causes, Johnson’s advice to clear the clutter, and show commitment, applies to leaders of all types. She advises to stand firm without getting overwhelmed with choices. This advice helps establish equilibrium and, as responsible leaders, opens doors to give back without overcommitting.

For Johnson, the story of how she found herself as an adjunct professor at DePaul University, sitting on the alumni board of Rollins College and the Board of the Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation (LSCRF) is a personal voyage of purpose, hardship, perseverance and gratitude.

Johnson graduated from Rollins College with a degree in English and communications and debt-free, thanks in part to a volleyball scholarship, work study and her mother’s job on campus. Her first job out of college, Tropicana, paid for her to earn a master’s degree in mass communications — again graduating without debt.  She largely attributes her character and success as an entrepreneur to Rollins’ excellent liberal arts educational program that focuses on global citizenship and responsible leadership.

To show her gratitude, she joined the alumni board in 2010 representing a growing Midwest region for Florida-based Rollins recruits and alumni. Today, she sits on the College’s Board of Trustees.

After a diagnosis with early stage breast cancer several years ago, Johnson joined the Board of LSCRF. She describes moving from patient to advocate as part of the healing journey and a personal obligation. Knowing 1:8 women are diagnosed each year, and as a scared patient in the beginning, she felt a responsibility to support an organization that helps others value early detection that can reduce later stage diagnoses that carry more intense treatment and recovery options and that may challenge personal philosophies.

Choosing to sit on the Boards of Rollins College and LSCRF proved to be pivotal decisions in Johnson’s personal life and career. As the founder and Principal of an integrated communications firm focused on healthcare and technology clients, serving on Boards dedicated to education and healthcare missions helped Johnson reflect on the values that she holds for herself and her company. Personal choices always reflect a CEO’s or established professional’s values. Johnson encourages serving on Boards that reflect your values. In her case these include curiosity, teamwork, connecting the dots, honesty and transparency.

Our advice for deciding to join a board? Tie your purpose with your passion and pick one or two organizations that support your purpose. Then do everything you can to add value to these organizations as they grow and thrive with the skills you’ve worked hard to refine and the networks you’ve expanded over the years.

For more life tips or to learn strategies for telling your organization’s story to your most important audiences in the channels that matter most, contact @KelleeJohnson or @Ballast_ Group or visit

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