Sector Initiatives

Cullen Foundation’s Sector Initiatives investment area is an effort to address a variety of capacity-building priorities in the sector through sponsorship of speakers, workshops, professional development, and research for shared, sector-wide advancement.

Sector Initiatives will build the capacity of WNY performing arts organizations by providing funding and programming for joint technical assistance, trainings, and other means of support. Cullen will work with sector members on identifying the most relevant, timely, and priority topics, and the optimal means to advance them. Topics may include:

  • Grant writing
  • Developing program outcomes
  • Board training and development for stronger governance
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion topics
  • Financial-related topics
  • Audience development/engagement/outreach training
  • Other professional development opportunities across a variety of sector positions (leadership; administrative staff; actors; director; technical staff; etc.)

With input from the performing arts sector members, we intend to present opportunities for learning together on these topics and others that emerge from the field. Submit a recommendation by contacting Cullen staff at [email protected]


Governance and Financial Trainings for WNY Performing Arts

Grantee Staff and Board Members Encouraged to Attend


Presented by New York Council of Nonprofits, Inc. (NYCON) with Funding from the Cullen Foundation 

Registration Link HERE

Cullen Foundation is pleased to announce our latest “Sector Initiative” for performing arts grantees. Intended for both staff and Board members, six free workshops will be offered exclusively to Cullen’s performing arts grantees from April to September 2023. The featured topics are based on Cullen grantees’ input of priority needs as informed by applications, site visits, and most recently a survey of Cullen’s performing arts grantees (2023). 


Governance workshop are designed to provide attendees with training in the duties and responsibilities of nonprofit boards; recruiting and retaining a motivated board; and being an effective board officer. Financial workshops will provide basics for small- to mid-sized organizations with a focus on financial resiliency, improving accounting practices, infrastructure assessment, researching accounting and donor software, and more. 


NYCON staff coordinating, creating and delivering the programming are:

  • Susan Weinrich, Senior Vice President for Nonprofit Capacity Building 
  • Barbara Paxton, Director of BoardStrong
  • Kelly Mathews, Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President for the Financial Management Group 


Click here to access the NYCON/Cullen Program PDF



  • Workshops will be held between April and August 2023
  • Each workshop is 3-hours long; two different workshops will be held each month in successive days.
  • The five governance workshops will be presented twice (on different months); the two financial workshops will be offered once each.
  • Trainings are geared toward nonprofit staff and their board members; organizations are encouraged to invite board members to every session.
  • Each workshop includes a mix of presentation and discussion to ensure engagement by participants plus time for networking and learn from each other.
  • Customized handouts will be provided for all sessions. 
  • The workshops are free to Cullen performing arts grantees’ staff and Board members; attendance is strongly encouraged.
  • Workshop locations are TBD and may vary per session but will be in-person in Buffalo, New York. 


Training Workshop Topics:


Topic #1: Board Governance Basics

  • Overview of basic board service, including roles and responsibilities of all board members.
  • April 25 & May 9
  • Training led by Barbara Paxton 

Topic #2: Board Leadership and Engagement

  • Details to include roles and responsibilities of committee chairs and officers, and ways to  engage board members, including through structured retreats.
  • June 13 & July 14
  • Training led by Susan Weinrich

Topic #3: Recruiting and Onboarding New Board Members

  • Effective ways to recruit board members, including how to find board members that bring diversity to the board. Discussion will also include onboarding techniques.
  • April 26 & July 13
  • Training led by Barbara Paxton  

Topic #4: Executive Director Evaluation and Succession Planning

  • Topics include executive director evaluation methods and activities to help strengthen the organization, as well as preparing the organization in case of planned or unplanned absence of the executive director or other key employee.
  • May 8 & June 14
  • Training led by Susan Weinrich  

Topic #5: Financial Basics for Small and Mid-Sized Nonprofits

  • Topics include nonprofit accounting basics and internal controls.
  • August 22
  • Training led by Kelly Mathews

Topic #6: Developing a Fiscally Accountable Board

  • Discussion of how to structure a board to do fiscal oversight, including board reporting, committees and officers with specific financial oversight responsibilities.
  • August 23
  • Training led by Kelly Mathews


Click here to access the NYCON/Cullen Program PDF



The mission of the New York Council of Nonprofits, Inc. (NYCON) is to develop and promote an effective and vibrant charitable nonprofit community throughout New York State. NYCON has more than 3,000 nonprofit members and is a one-stop resource for the tools and support services they need to succeed. 

Option for Additional Support

Participating organizations that are active NYCON members and/or NYSCA grantees will be eligible for one-on-one consultations (one hour in length) which will be provided before or after each session at no cost (source: NYSCA Grant).