Aboriginal Healing Foundation – A Legacy of Excellence – The Institute On Governance Full Report

A Legacy of Excellence:
Best Practices Board Study

Aboriginal Healing Foundation
John Graham and Laura Mitchell
May 29, 2009

Executive Summary

In collaboration with the AHF, the Institute On Governance (IOG) has undertaken a best practices case study of this Board with two goals in mind. First, we want to identify the key factors that have led the AHF Board to perform at its current high level to inform and inspire other boards, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, to improve their performance. Second, this study may offer helpful suggestions for the current AHF Board regarding how its performance may be improved for the remainder of its existence.The methodology for the study focused primarily on interviews with the Board members themselves, AHF senior staff as well as a few key stakeholders of the organization. In total we conducted some 16 in depth interviews. We supplemented these interviews with case studies, a rigourous review of relevant documents and a literature search.

Interviewees were asked to rank the ability of the AHF to successfully incorporate and follow each of 11 characteristics of high performing boards (characteristics identified by the IOG through its work over many years) both quantitatively and qualitatively: quantitatively, using a scale of one to six (1=strongly disagree, 2=disagree, 3=disagree somewhat, 4= agree somewhat, 5= agree, 6=strongly agree); and qualitatively, by asking interviewees to provide examples of how the Board had realized these characteristics in their ongoing board practices.

The data collected yielded impressive results. In every one of the 11 characteristics measured the AHF scored no less than 5.5. Two characteristics – external relations and accountability – get an astounding average mark of 5.8. And the overall average of the 11 characteristics is well over 5.6, a remarkable outcome, and one that the IOG has not seen before in our work with boards. The following chart provides information regarding the rating of each characteristic.

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