On a sunny late-summer day, as Noorain Khan was leading visitors into a conference room of the temporary offices of the Ford Foundation in Manhattan, she paused to glance out the window. Looking down the street she wished she could see the foundation’s iconic headquarters building, but it was just out of sight. The Ford Foundation had moved into the temporary space to allow for an overdue renovation that was planned, among other things, to make the building and its atrium garden more accessible to individuals with disabilities.
Coincidentally, shortly before the move, Khan had begun to lead a foundation-wide initiative to fund disability inclusion programs. Khan was proud of the work; she had played a key role in leading the organization to invest millions of dollars in programs that would help to shape policy and raise the visibility of disability rights causes. Now, both her work and the building were nearing completion and she felt ready to move on to her next challenge within the Ford Foundation. But should she? Had she successfully ensured that disability inclusion—a new funding priority—had been “baked into” the organization’s culture? Would Ford Foundation program officers continue to prioritize funding for disability inclusion without her support and oversight—and the incentives she had designed to encourage the investments? What could she do to prevent her efforts from unraveling after she withdrew to take on other responsibilities?
The case charts Khan’s path from the time she joins the Ford Foundation through her role in leading its disability inclusion efforts—under the close direction of the foundation’s president, Darren Walker. At the case’s conclusion, both Khan and the program are at a turning point and students must consider what will happen to the foundation’s disability inclusion program if Khan leaves.
The case is designed to facilitate a live, in-class discussion to help students differentiate between leadership styles and describe how they can be used effectively within an organization. Student can diagnose when an objective has been met in a values-driven—rather than profit-driven—environment. Students explore how a leader can lead an organization through change while balancing their own ends against those of the organization.
Diversity and Inclusion, Fundraising, Leadership
Geographic: New York
Industry: Public Interest
Event Year Begin: 2018
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