NCAP is thrilled to announce that as of October 1, 2021, we have adopted a Co-Director shared leadership structure. Staff members Ashley Chesser and Dominica Navarro Martinez are now NCAP’s Co-Directors, responsible for leading the areas where they are most skilled (more details below). The NCAP staff and board are excited to move forward together using this leadership model, confident that change and growth will help move us closer to realizing our vision for a world that is free from toxic pesticides.
Why Shared Leadership?
NCAP is moving into a new phase as an organization, as we embrace innovative ways to operate that work better for all. We acknowledge that new leadership is healthy for an organization. It ensures fresh ideas and the ability to respond to the challenges facing the mission in new ways.
We are seeing something bigger happening in the nonprofit sector than a change in individual staff members. More organizations are abandoning the traditional top-down approach in their leadership model and embracing a bottom-up structure grounded in collaboration, equity and transparency. We recognize that hierarchical leadership models are rooted in white supremacy culture. With collaborative leadership comes the opportunity to reimagine how power operates in more equitable and inclusive ways.
Traditionally, executive directors (EDs) are expected to be skilled in a myriad of activities and the authority on how best to do all of them. Nonprofits often hire staff who have skills the ED may not have—human resources, program implementation, fundraising, technology systems—but don’t provide them the autonomy to make decisions in their areas of expertise. Not only is this practice a disadvantage to the organization, it can lead to burnout for the ED and job dissatisfaction for other staff members.
How We’re Doing Shared Leadership
Under NCAP’s new model, co-directors oversee various aspects of organizational health, with all staff leading and making decisions for their areas of oversight. Shared leadership thoughtfully and clearly outlines power so that staff understand who has the responsibility and authority to make various types of decisions and where no single person holds an excessive amount of power in the system. We are also adopting a flatter salary structure as management duties are spread out amongst all staff.
Below is a breakdown of what each staff member leads and their thoughts on shared leadership. Note that we are also currently hiring a new Bilingual Program Manager to oversee workplace and family safety and our Spanish-language programming.
Ashley Chesser, Co-Director | Fundraising and Operations
Ashley oversees the fiscal and operational health of the organization. She is the main point of contact for our members and funding partners.
“Being NCAP’s Executive Director was an honor I am happy to relinquish in support of a more inclusive approach. I look forward to this next season of growth where we foster a diversity of voices, perspectives and skills.”
Dominica Navarro Martinez, Co-Director | Programs and Engagement
Dominica brings skills in developing systems and tools for nonprofit management. She will ensure our programs and engagement are rooted in the community and address the needs of our growing base of members and supporters. Dominica is the main point of contact for programmatic partners.
“A good leader creates more leaders, and that’s just what we’re doing here at NCAP! Shared Leadership solidifies the collaborative approach we already have towards our work. We all bring such diverse skills to the team, it only makes sense to have a structure that allows us to bring those skills to light and grow our leadership abilities across the board.”
Sharalyn Peterson, Healthy Wildlife and Water Program Manager
Sharalyn is our staff scientist and has authority over science-based recommendations. She leads comments on Environmental Protection Agency pesticide registration decisions affecting endangered and threatened wildlife species. She reviews all NCAP documents, information requests and fee-for-service consultations for scientific rigor.
“I believe that we each bring a unique skill set and experience to the organization. Coming from an agency that had successfully implemented the Co-Director Shared Leadership Model, I am thrilled that we are adopting this structure at NCAP! This leadership model will provide more equitable opportunities for staff including the ability to take on work that interests them outside of their job description while simultaneously involving them in high-level organizational decision making.”
Christina Stucker-Gassi, Healthy Food and Farms Program Manager
Christina works to advance just and equitable food systems change, and is working to grow our effectiveness in the policy and advocacy space across our campaign areas.
“By re-creating our leadership structure we get to spread out the burden of non-profit management. The stress and responsibility are not on the shoulders of one or two people at the top, we all are refining our roles and growing. I’m excited NCAP is joining the movement for flatter organizational leadership.”
Sidney Fellows, Program Specialist
Sidney is helping revamp our habitat restoration work, conducting outreach to indigenous producers and communities.
“The element of shared leadership that is most important and valuable to me is how I feel equal in my ability to shape the projects I’m working on.”
Laura Ray, Communications Manager
Laura leads NCAP’s communications, including member and supporter engagement. She creates our monthly email newsletter, updates the website, posts on social media, and more.
“Each of us has unique experiences, strengths and wisdom. We’re all becoming more empowered to step up and bring our best to NCAP!”
Andrea Stapleton, Operations Coordinator
Andrea oversees the smooth operation of the NCAP office and leads grant tracking and volunteer coordination.
“Shared leadership will provide us with a way to use our strengths while collaborating together for the mission of NCAP."
Edward Winter, Chief Financial Officer
Edward leads financial tracking and financial systems management, ensuring that NCAP's finances are healthy.
"I look forward to shared leadership and being able to use everyone’s skills to further promote the mission of NCAP."
Where We’ve Been
NCAP first implemented shared leadership in 2018 following the departure of our previous executive director. With assistance from skilled consultants, staff and board embarked on an internal exploration and assessment of administration and management needs. Through this work, NCAP developed new roles and responsibilities for staff members and utilized collective shared leadership. When Ashley Chesser moved from her communications and development role to be Executive Director in 2020, shared leadership remained a value that we continued to evolve. Over the course of 2021, we explored other leadership models and reviewed feedback from organizations that have adopted shared leadership. Staff identified their strengths and interests in leading aspects of the organization and we created a refined model that the board approved.
We are excited to continue moving NCAP forward in a way that is vibrant, thriving, equitable, and better equipped to navigate the challenges of our times.