How to Retain Talent Through a Dynamic Nonprofit Organization (Keith Fishburne)

October 2021

Are you struggling as a nonprofit leader to retain your best talent?  Keith Fishburne, whose career spans over 30 years at Special Olympics North Carolina, shares his best practices to recognize, develop, and ultimately retain quality employees. Many of Keith's senior staff have been with him for over a decade, unheard of in the nonprofit sector. The experiences we discuss in episode #129 of the Path Podcast will help you build and maintain stronger relationships between nonprofit leadership, staff, your board, and those all-important volunteers. Hear initiatives to improve equity and diversity in your organization. Cultivating the powerful connection between mission and passion will elevate your nonprofit organization.

"As a nonprofit leader, you must find new and creative ways to have an impact on the people you serve. That's what's kept me engaged here for over 30 years."


Keith Fishburne, president and CEO of Special Olympics North Carolina since May 1997, is responsible for overall management of the organization, which serves nearly 40,000 registered athletes statewide, supported by a $6.5 million budget, a staff of 28, and more than 40,000 volunteers.  He was a member of the Board of Directors and executive committee for the 1999 Special Olympics World Summer Games, which brought more than 7,000 athletes from over 150 countries worldwide to North Carolina for 10 days of competition and events. He's also served as chairman of the Special Olympics United States Leadership Council (USLC), a leadership body dedicated to the strategic quality growth of Special Olympics programming throughout the country. He has been recognized for his leadership and dedication to the community beyond Special Olympics, having received the William C. Friday Excellence in Leadership and Service Award for significant contributions to the betterment of the human condition presented by the Park Scholars of NC State University, Class of 2010. In 2020, he was named to the North Carolina Sports Leadership Council of the NC Sports Association, joining sports leaders across North Carolina in serving as a collective voice on issues impacting the sports event industry. He's currently a member of the Special Olympics USLC, and chair of the SOI Integrated Direct Marketing Program. He is also a member of the USLC Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Task Force and the Return to Activities Task Force as part of the Special Olympics response to the pandemic.

​​​​​​About PMA Nonprofit Leadership 

As a firm, PMA Nonprofit Leadership is constantly developing content and programs to help you in three distinct ways.  The first way is to help you be a thought leader in the nonprofit sector by producing weekly content through our podcast Your Path to Nonprofit Leadership. The second way is through individual coaching, training and our unique Mastermind Nonprofit Leadership program. The third way is to help your nonprofit organization through support of its strategic planning, board & staff development, and fundraising. Through our exclusive partnership with the Institute for Philanthropic Leadership, we also  guide aspiring nonprofit leaders thought the virtual New Development Professionals cohort training program, as well as the annual Leadership Gift School, now entering its 10th cohort season.  Let us know how we can help you! Join our community by signing up for our free resources here, and schedule a call if you'd like to learn more about ways we can help you on your journey to nonprofit leadership.