The Nonprofit Ready Podcast Interview: Kevin Morgan of ProLiteracy
On this episode of The Nonprofit Ready Podcast, we had the pleasure of speaking with Kevin Morgan CEO of ProLiteracy about making the transition from a successful career in advertising to a new career running a nonprofit.
Kevin has a really interesting background having worked at some of the largest ad agencies in the world creating campaigns for well-known brands such as MasterCard and Nissan. After being introduced to ProLiteracy as a volunteer, Kevin was invited to join its Board of Directors in 2007 and by 2014, Kevin was appointed the organization’s permanent president and CEO.
He first became aware of the problem of low adult literacy after pitching an idea for a new ad campaign to two nonprofits that eventually merged to form ProLiteracy: “Like a lot of people I didn’t know the problem was that big. And I was amazed to learn it was a problem here in the United States.” Morgan goes on to explain why this issue became so important to him personally: “if you name your social issue that you feel is important … unemployment, economic development, job creation, crime, k-12 test scores, those hot button issues can all be positively impacted if you increase the adult literacy rate.”
Morgan’s years of service on ProLiteracy’s Board of Directors shaped his later work as CEO of the organization: “You realize when you serve on a nonprofit board, regardless of the size of the nonprofit, that the financial health of the organization is paramount. If you don’t have that sustainability, the rest of it really doesn’t matter.”
As CEO of the organization, Morgan faces a number of ongoing challenges, but talks at length about how he engages his employees: “Over the past 24 months, we’ve created an innovation mindset. And oftentimes that reinvigorates the employees that are already here….You have to keep people fresh and motivated and you have to facilitate new thinking.” At the same time, Morgan recognizes that no one stays in their current role forever and a big part of his job is to build bench strength across the organization: “I have to plan for the future to ensure we have the next wave of talent across the organization to carry the torch for literacy…. Businesses in general and nonprofits in particular don’t have a succession plan.”
Thanks to Kevin Morgan for joining us on the Nonprofit Ready Podcast.