Arent Fox Partner Michael Blass Elected Chairman of Board of the National Executive Service Corps
Mr. Blass has been on the NESC board for seven years, most recently serving as vice chair. He regularly advises major hospitals and health providers on mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and other corporate transactions, as well as regulatory affairs, corporate governance, due diligence, licensing, Medicare and Medicaid certifications.
In becoming chair, Mr. Blass succeeds Marvin Berenblum, formerly a managing partner of leading executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles. Mr. Berenblum, who had been NESC chair since 2005, remains CEO of the organization.
Co-founded by David Rockefeller in 1977, NESC assists nonprofits in the New York metropolitan area, matching them with experienced business leaders and professionals who volunteer their time to bring specialized counsel and training from the private sector, particularly in management, operations and finance.
In its 35-year history, NESC has helped more than 2,000 nonprofits from across New York’s tri-state region. Its consultants advise organizations in strategic planning, financial management and reporting, governance, branding and marketing, social enterprise, staffing and other key areas. Rather than take over operations, NESC seeks to train its nonprofit clients to more effectively carry out their own missions.
Current NESC consultants include more than 200 executives from multiple industries, including banking, real estate, merchandising, publishing, public relations and advertising, law, accounting, engineering, architecture and social work. As a nonprofit itself, NESC takes on about 100 projects annually, many of them on behalf of repeat clients. The organizations pay an affordable fee per project, which helps fund NESC’s annual budget of approximately $1 million.
There are 27 regional NESC affiliates, called the Executive Service Corps, in metropolitan areas around the country — they operate separately.
Mr. Blass said, “I’m honored that the NESC board has entrusted me with its chairmanship, and the responsibility it entails. NESC plays a crucial role in fine-tuning important administrative and operational functions at nonprofit organizations throughout New York’s metropolitan area, making them better able to carry out the services they were designed to provide. We strive to take the best practices in corporate America and apply them appropriately to the non-profit sector.”
Mr. Blass said he hopes to heighten visibility of the NESC at a time when many nonprofits are struggling with constraints in their endowments, operating budgets, professional staff and other resources.
“Several years after the financial crisis, many nonprofits continue to feel a severe pinch financially,” Mr. Blass said. “But even well-endowed entities often need assistance in financial controls, management structure and sheer efficiency. Our consultants come well prepared to look under the hood of an organization, diagnose any problems, and lend expertise and advise to help nonprofits achieve peak performance. I am excited about my new role as chair and look forward to expanding the range and volume of our support, including helping more clients in such areas as healthcare and education.”
Among clients the NESC has served are: The New York Public Library; the Anti-Defamation League; the Food Bank for Westchester County; the Acting Company, associated with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State; the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art; a collection of townships in Bergen County, NJ; Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York; Cabrini Eldercare, which facilitates people with developmental disabilities living in group homes of their own.
NESC president Betsy Weber said, “There is national trend among nonprofit and community service organizations to try to make the most of the know-how of trained and experienced volunteers — especially those with business backgrounds. We are extremely fortunate to install Michael Blass as our new chair. Michael has been a highly committed board member, and brings exceptional insight and skills as a top business lawyer for healthcare providers, many of which are themselves nonprofits.”
Recognizing the assistance NESC has given to nonprofits serving a wealth of community needs across New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg wrote on the occasion of the organization’s annual gala held this past November:
“As we invest in our city’s future, we are fortunate to have committed partners across the private and nonprofit sectors, and for 35 years NESC has been a tremendous planning and management resource for the metropolitan area’s nonprofits. Together, government and professionals in a wide range of fields can make a lasting difference in our neighborhoods, and we look forward to the experience and expertise of NESC helping even more clients do exactly that in the years to come.”