Reflections on My First Year: A Letter From Our President & CEO, Heather Iliff

November 4, 2015

Dear Members,

I have had the great honor to serve Maryland Nonprofits as President and CEO since November of 2014, starting out in an acting position and then appointed permanent CEO in December. I would like to thank our board of directors, staff and members for the warm and engaging welcome in this new role. It has been a rewarding year, and the best is yet to come!

When I first came into this role, Maryland Nonprofits was facing financial challenges, and our membership renewals had decreased. I am pleased to report that we have managed a strong turn-around, are now financially stable and membership is growing. We are utilizing your investment in your membership dues to strengthen our services to you, including improved customer service, more substantial and high-quality learning opportunities in locations across the state and online, and by representing nonprofit interests in Annapolis and on Capitol Hill.

The State Legislature established the Augustine Commission to make recommendations on economic development and the business climate. We feared the Commission would recommend tax cuts that could be devastating to communities and nonprofit programs after years of budget cuts during the recession. This summer, we worked successfully with our partners, including the Maryland Center for Economic Policy, to ensure a balanced analysis, and are relieved that the Commission did not recommend big tax cuts. We also worked with Marylanders for Open Government to pass major reforms to Maryland’s open government laws.

Our Quality of Life Initiative launched in March of 2015, aimed at helping nonprofits connect better with each other with business and government for a better shared future for Maryland. The importance of this work was highlighted following the Baltimore Uprising where we convened our members with governmental agencies to develop ways to respond in the short-term and long-term.

Standards for Excellence launched a new website this year, with a host of great new resources to help your organization thrive. The Standards have been proven by independent academic research that organizations that earn the Seal of Excellence raise more money from the public than similar organizations without the Seal. We have a growing cadre of peer reviewers and Licensed Consultants with the Standards to help organizations succeed in achieving best practices.

Looking ahead, here are some things we are working on to serve our members, strengthen our sector, and make Maryland a better place to live:

  • First Annual State of the State Address from a Community Perspective on January 11, 2016 followed by our Legislative Preview at the Lowes in Annapolis (8am – 12:30pm).
  • Fight to preserve and enhance state revenues by demonstrating how important our quality of life is to the economy of Maryland, including education, public safety, the arts, and environment. Equity and opportunity for everyone must be emphasized in the State’s budget.
  • Improve our customer service, website, online learning opportunities and state-wide engagement of members in face-to-face networking and learning programs.
  • Second Annual Quality of Life Summit, March 2, 2016 at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, MD.
  • Member affinity groups (how do you want to connect?) and online engagement tools so you can access the vast expertise of members across the state to help you achieve your mission and strengthen your organization.

These are just a few ways that we are strengthening our association to better serve you. We thank you for your input on our recent member survey and we are open to your questions and feedback year-round. We are embarking on strategic planning now and look forward to engaging you in that process, as well.  You can contact me directly at or 443-438-2348.


Heather Iliff
Your President and CEO
Maryland Nonprofits


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