How Do You Create a Dynamic Culture as a Nonprofit Leader? (Mary Ward)  

February 2021

Will you be ready for your next opportunity to be a nonprofit leader?  Often the best opportunities occur when you're least expecting them, and you must rely on past experience, great mentors, and simply gut instinct, before you make the move. This type of opportunity occurred for Mary Ward, our guest in episode #88 of the Path Podcast, when she had the opportunity to lead the McLeod Center. She offers fantastic advice for nonprofit leaders in evaluating a new opportunity, determining exactly what to do once you arrive, and establishing a trusting and mission-focused environment.  She also tackles strategic topics such as how to follow a long-time leader at an organization, honor their legacy, but also initiate changes that need to be made.  We also discussed questions such as: how do you establish a positive culture in an inherently stressful clinical environment (and then add a pandemic on top!)?  Mary talks about all of the cultural factors she assessed, as well as the resources she's utilized to maintain a dynamic staff and board culture and continue the important work her organization does every day.

"Find a mentor!  Someone who is really willing to talk with you about their experience - the good and the bad."



Mary Ward became President of the McLeod Addictive Disease Center in April, 2017.  She is responsible for a $19M business and 230 employees serving the Piedmont and Western regions of North Carolina, providing outpatient and residential services through nine treatment service sites. In 2020, McLeod Center delivered over 57,000 patient services and launched a virtual care delivery system. Previously, Mary was Assistant Vice President of Addiction Medicine with Atrium Health where she had oversight three hospital and non-hospital based substance use disorder services. She was part of the first addiction medicine dyad leadership team and helped launch the system's first site for office-based medication assisted treatment.  Prior to Atrium, she was the Director of Community Relations for the Mecklenburg County Alcoholic Beverage Control Board where she grew a grant program from $200,000 to $1.2 million in annual and multi-year awards for substance use disorder services with 20 community organizations.  She is passionate about the adverse effects of social determinants to health and uses her over 25 years of experience in local and state community corrections to advocate for equal access to care.  In addition to several local community groups, she currently serves on the Public Policy Committee with the North Carolina Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence. She holds a MBA from Queens University McColl School of Business and a B.S. in Criminal Justice from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.