About Diane Gordon

Diane Gordon has been working with nonprofit organizations since 1979.  After graduating from Brown University, Diane served as a VISTA volunteer and a community and tenants’ rights organizer.

Building on these diverse grassroots hands-on experiences, Diane consulted with nonprofits across the country for more than ten years through the NeighborWorks Network, developing resilient community-based nonprofits, strengthening their leadership and building capacity for effective action. Diane has served as the Executive Director of the Boston-based Management Consulting Services, a nonprofit dedicated to building the capacity of other nonprofit organizations, and as the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Tenants Organization, a tenant-led nonprofit committed to advancing tenants’ rights through organizing, leadership development, and advocacy.

As the former Executive Director of two nonprofit organizations, Diane understands the demands of combining effective management with visionary leadership. In her positions as Executive Director and capacity builder, Diane has served in the dual role of grant-seeker and grant-maker, affording her a unique perspective on the issues and interests to nonprofits and foundations.

In 2005, Diane became an independent management consultant. Her work includes:

  • Organizational assessments
  • Strategic planning
  • Operational and implementation planning
  • Outcome measurement system design
  • Logic model/theory of change design
  • Single and multi-year program evaluations
  • Executive Director and other professional staff coaching
  • Leadership development and Board of Directors training workshops
  • Design and support of foundation and intermediary capacity building initiatives
  • Evaluation of foundation and intermediary capacity building initiatives

More About Diane’s Background

Leadership and Management

Diane brings to projects the perspective and experience of an Executive Director of two nonprofit organizations. For seven years (1998–2005), Diane served as the Executive Director of the Boston-based Management Consulting Services, an organization dedicated to strengthening the capacity of nonprofit organizations. As Executive Director of MCS, she oversaw consulting services, grantmaking, and collaborative learning programs for over 300 nonprofit organizations. She directed all organizational, financial, human resources, and administrative management for the organization. Under her leadership, MCS more than doubled the number of funding partnerships and tripled the number of capacity building programs serving Boston’s nonprofit community.

Diane led the agency’s five-year strategic business planning process and the design and implementation of an outcome measurement system, using both to instill a culture of continuous program and organizational improvement. She also spearheaded MCS’ transition to an independent nonprofit organization, supporting the development of an independent Board of Directors, establishing new internal systems and a new back-office, and orchestrating a physical relocation.

Earlier in her career, Diane served for three years as the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Tenants Organization (MTO), a 5,000 member statewide association that protected tenants’ rights through grassroots organizing, leadership development, education and advocacy. At MTO, Diane led organizing campaigns, supported the growth of the Board of Directors, raised and managed resources, and developed leadership on a local and statewide level.

Capacity Building and Training

Diane’s work with clients as a capacity builder and trainer stems from her experiences at both Management Consulting Services (MCS), where she was the Executive Director for seven years, and from her over ten-year history at NeighborWorks America.

At MCS, Diane created numerous programs that supported the growth of organizations on an individual basis and through collaborative learning. MCS facilitated hundreds of organizational assessments, building the capacity of agency leadership to uncover the symptoms and causes of organizational obstacles, and develop a tailored, practical plan for greater impact. By coordinating a network of management consultants and providing strategic grants to support organizational development, MCS built the capacity of nonprofits in a wide variety of fields, including youth development, housing, community development, job training, arts and culture, environmental, health care, organizing and advocacy, immigrant rights, and human services.

Rooted in her training expertise, Diane led the design of several collaborative learning initiatives. Prominent among them was a multi-year partnership she built with the Rockefeller Foundation in support of a workforce development grantmaking and capacity building project. MCS organized the Boston program, one of three Rockefeller sponsored to strengthen nonprofits serving poor and excluded urban jobseekers. In other sectors, she led the design of new capacity building programs in response to the needs of community–based organizations, tripling the number of MCS sponsored programs. MCS built a superior reputation for quality services to individual organizations, Executive Directors, and clusters of nonprofits through innovative collaborative learning programs.

Before becoming the Executive Director of MCS in 1998, Diane was National Coordinator of Resident Leadership Initiatives for NeighborWorks America. There she created and led a nationwide effort to strengthen resident participation and leadership in nonprofit community development organizations. She designed and directed Back to Basics, a project that funded, trained, and supported community organizers in cities across the country. Diane provided coaching and consulting services to the organizers, the Executive Directors, and the Boards of Directors as they engaged grassroots leaders in meaningful community revitalization efforts.

While at NeighborWorks America, Diane coordinated a national initiative to develop Mutual Housing Associations — nonprofits that own and manage cooperative-style affordable housing — in 15 cities across the country. Her consulting services included organizational and Boards of Directors development, staff hiring and training, and resident leadership development.

Diane led several local and national training programs for the NeighborWorks Network. She initiated the Community Leadership Institutes — training programs for emerging resident leaders and the Community Organizer Symposium — a networking and learning opportunity for community organizers nationwide. She is the author of a Training and Organizing Guide for Residents in Mutual Housing Associations, and facilitated hands-on training workshops on numerous topics across the country.

Grassroots Tenant and Community Organizing

Diane made her start in the community as a VISTA volunteer, working as a community organizer for three years (1979–1982) for the Rhode Island based Coalition for Consumer Justice (CCJ). Diane organized community-led groups in Central Falls and Pawtucket, Rhode Island, working with local leaders to identify issues of concern and implement organizing campaigns to improve their communities. Her work also supported the leadership development of local residents to engage in statewide advocacy campaigns focused on consumer rights.

Prior to becoming the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Tenants Organization – a position she held for three years – Diane was a tenants’ rights organizer for one year (1983–1984) at MTO. During her tenure at MTO, Diane organized tenants to fight for their rights at the local level, and through statewide public policy advocacy campaigns.

Diane continued her commitment to grassroots organizing throughout her career at NeighborWorks America where she designed the Back to Basics initiative, trained and supported community organizers around the country, and supported the leadership development of community residents through local and national training programs.

As a consultant, Diane has provided coaching services to community organizers and helped community development corporations strengthen their organizing and resident leadership capacities.

In a volunteer capacity, she has served as a member of the Advisory Board of the Center to Support Immigrant Organizing from 2002–2007 and as a member of the Steering Committee of the Ricanne Hadrian Initiative for Community Organizing, a project of the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations and the Boston office of the Local Initiative Support Corporation.