Case #1840.0

Too Many Parents? Making a Conservancy Work (B)

Publication Date: June 05, 2006
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In April 2005, Nancy Brennan took over as director of the newly-created Rose F. Kennedy Greenway Conservancy in Boston. This case examines the challenges which faced her and the 10-person Conservancy board. The body, charged with raising money to fund maintenance of a ribbon of parks downtown, had been created after years of political jockeying. Its founding document was the result of political expedience rather than merit-based adoption of a comprehensive and rational governing structure. Brennan, during the first months of the Conservancy's existence, would come to understand how board composition, fundraising requirements and other elements would likely have to change in order to let the Conservancy succeed. Her realizations dawned, however, as she scrambled to raise a daunting $5 million in nine months-or the Conservancy would close.

Learning Objective:
The case raises for classroom discussion the merits of the Conservancy model of governance, the tradeoffs between organizational theory and daily politics, and the realities of running a public-private venture. It will allow students to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges of starting up a nonprofit, of the checks and balances that govern a nonprofit board, and of the realities of operating according to private sector principles in a public sector environment. The case can be used in courses on nonprofit management, on public-private partnerships, or business-government relations.

Other Details

Case Author:
Kirsten Lundberg
Faculty Lead:
John D. Donahue
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States
Funding Source:
Frank and Denie Weil Program in Collaborative Governance, Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston, Robert G. Wilmers Local and State Government Case Studies Fund