Who is Responsible for the Board Doing a Good Job?

Despite the importance of the nonprofit board, there’s strikingly little clarity about who is responsible for its performance.

Who is Responsible for the Board Doing a Good Job?
6 mins read

The board’s effective governance and support is the job of the executive director.

Despite the importance of the nonprofit board, there’s strikingly little clarity about who is responsible for its performance. The answer in this Board Cafe article might surprise you:

Who is responsible for the board’s doing its job? And a related question: who’s responsible for improving a board that’s asleep, weak, or gone amok? One answer might be: the board is responsible for the board! Or possibly, it’s the board chair who is responsible for the board. Or sometimes: it’s both.

We agree with Peter Drucker: The responsibility for the board’s effective work — both governance and support — is ultimately the responsibility of the executive director.

This can sound paradoxical (or even depressing) at first, but veteran successful executives know the truth of this statement. Executives take on their shoulders the responsibility for the success or failure of the organization — every part of it. If there were any other part of the organization that was under-performing, no executive would shrug, do nothing, and blame the program director or the administrative director. The executive would act to improve performance.

In a similar way, if the board is doing its job under its own leadership, the executive director can simply support that leadership. Let’s look at the possible combinations of strong/weak boards and CEOs.

First let’s take the situation where there’s an engaged board with strong board members working with a strong executive director/CEO. In such an instance, the question of “who is responsible” may not even get asked. Shared responsibility comes naturally. The executive director may find herself both supporting and leading the board, engaging them in strategic decision making, while at the same time the board challenges the executive, tests plans with rigorous inquiry, and engages the executive in strategic thinking.

Mismatched dancing partners?

Next let’s consider the organization with a strong board and a weak executive. Board members may begin with guidance and constructive feedback; provide an executive or fundraising coach, or even trying to compensate for the executive’s weaknesses themselves. But over time, a strong board will remove the weak executive. In fact, Daring to Lead 2006, a national study of nonprofit executives, found that one-third are either fired or forced out of their jobs: evidence that boards take action when they see problems.

But what if there’s a strong executive director, and a weak board? In this situation, board members typically aren’t anguishing about their non-performance; in fact they may feel that “things are going fine and there really isn’t that much for us to do.” On the other hand, the executive is likely to feel unsatisfied with the board and wish they were “engaged” or raising money, but may console herself with the idea that, after all, they aren’t getting in the way. These are the executives who find themselves muttering, “How can they tell me how to do my job, when they can’t even take responsibility for getting a quorum.” Or even, “I just don’t see the point of the board if they’re not going to raise money.”

These are the cases — remarkably common — where the question arises: just who is responsible for the board anyway?

The successful executive director holds himself or herself accountable for every part of the organization, and that means being accountable for the board as well. The question becomes: “What can I do to improve the functioning and leadership of the board?”

Changing the board

CEO actions to change the board’s behavior may include having a heart-to-heart talk with the board chair. It may mean spending only a little time with the current board and instead focusing on recruiting new, effective board members. Some executives hope to change boards by bringing in a consultant to tell them what they “should” be doing; such efforts are typically futile or even create resentment from board members. Instead, successful executives face up to changing their own behavior and prioritization of time in order to improve the board. We even know one executive who asks herself every day at noon: “What have I done today to strengthen the board’s ability to lead?”

But isn’t the board ultimately responsible for the organization’s effective work? Yes, and to take the paradox one step further: part of the board’s evaluation of the executive director should include the performance of the board. To reference Peter Drucker again, the board can say, “We are giving you poor marks for our performance.” Nearly all boards recognize that a good relationship between the executive and the board is crucial, but fewer take the logical step of holding the executive (as well as themselves) accountable for that relationship being productive for the organization, not just cordial.

Even for those executives who resent and blame a non-performing board, there are really only two choices: expect them to change on their own (unlikely), and figure out how to change them (even if you don’t think you should have to). And there are really only two ways that CEOs can be effective at changing boards: by changing who is on the board, and by changing how she as the CEO works with the board. Neither can be neglected.

This article is adapted from a chapter in Best of the Board Cafe, Second Edition, by Jan Masaoka.

See also:

About the Author

Jan is a former editor of Blue Avocado, former executive director of CompassPoint Nonprofit Services, and has sat in on dozens of budget discussions as a board member of several nonprofits. With Jeanne Bell and Steve Zimmerman, she co-authored Nonprofit Sustainability: Making Strategic Decisions for Financial Viability, which looks at nonprofit business models.

Articles on Blue Avocado do not provide legal representation or legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for advice or legal counsel. Blue Avocado provides space for the nonprofit sector to express new ideas. Views represented in Blue Avocado do not necessarily express the opinion of the publication or its publisher.

40 thoughts on “Who is Responsible for the Board Doing a Good Job?

  1. One way boards can be rejuvenated is by recruiting board members who are mostly interested in governance issues. They need not have deep expertise in the nonprofit’s mission, they just have to be sympathetic. But if you’re lucky they’ll start to turn things around. They’ll ask strange questions at board meetings, such as “do we have a list of criteria for recruiting board members?”, “what’s the point of these standing committees?”, or (most direct question of all) “how does you being on this board make the organization better?”

    I’d advocate for recruiting for governance skills first, then going on to the other stuff that boards need like financial literacy, friendraising skills, etc. It can be really hard for long-serving board members to get fired up about friendraising and fundraising unless they have a strong sense that the board is enthused about the mission. And it won’t be until it understands what it’s supposed to do.

    Of course, someone actually has to recruit the first new governance board member. And that someone will have to be the ED. But then I think that EDs are much more likely to have encountered people skilled in board governance than your regular board member will have. Even if the recruitment is for a couple of years, it can have an inspiring effect.

    1. One idea that might be getting some traction in the for-profit sector is the idea of professional board members: people who are paid to be board members, who are — like the people you describe, Patrick — interested in good governance. This might be one of those ideas that has a germ of good but turns into its opposite. Jan

      1. Surely it’s better to have some Governance board members available to stimulate than to have the current situation where so many board are anemic. Yes, I understand that there might be dangers, e.g. of someone using their Governance Knowledge as a hammer to get their way.

        Curiously, my worry about what Governance board members might do wrong revolves around the lazy use of Robert’s Rules. I’m a big booster of the ABA’s Modern Rules, which I think reflects the way many boards function anyway — and is only two pages long (versus the 643 pages of Robert).

  2. I am helping a small nonprofit in their fundraising efforts, but I feel like I’m talking to the wall most of the time. They don’t have the basic understanding of fundraising, and frankly, I don’t know why they’re on the board at all. They don’t bring in much money and are hesitant to network outside of their own circles. The ED said that we should take baby steps, which I think is a riot since they’ve been in existence for more than 30 years! Are my efforts lost? Should I move on if the Board and ED aren’t making much effort? I’m exhausted.

    1. Yes you should move on, for your sake AND theirs. There comes a point where it becomes, frankly, unethical to take a nonprofit organization’s money to provide consulting services that they clearly can’t benefit from, or don’t want to benefit from. It sounds like you are there. And there is little to be gained, it seems, in terms of your own pride in your work and the satisfaction you get from truly making a difference with a client organization. It actually wasn’t clear to me whether you are a consultant or a volunteer, but it applies in either case. Good luck.

      1. I am a paid staffer with years of fundraising experience. I’m dealing with a Board composed of people who have never held this special type of leadership position before. Board members were selected for mostly the wrong reasons and I blame the ED for that. They weren’t really interviewed, just asked if they wanted to be involved. I have a gut feeling that some were pressured. A few have been on the Board for too long (don’t know why they haven’t rolled off) and have lost perspective on many issues, or don’t care to attend meetings anymore. I suggested that a more diverse Board would help: new blood who are more experience and better connected with the community. My idea was squashed right away. The ED wears many hats, but then again, who doesn’t in npo’s. Because of that, many errors have been made on this person’s part. I feel the ED may be intimidated of me since I have had more experience with larger npo’s in the region. This person treads lightly around me, but I can read this person very well and they are doing a great injustice to their organization. Thanks for responding. I will consider your reply.

        1. You seem to be setting yourself up for an unwinnable battle with the ED.
          Why? Is it a good organisation?
          If so, is it worth continuing to do your good job, do it well and hang tight until the ED is found out or leaves because they can no longer cope with their own chaos?
          Don’t get political with the ED. He/she probably thrives on a divide and conquer management style and would be aware of your angst, and is spoiling for an excuse to terminate you. Do you want to hand that excuse to them on a plate?
          Or do you want to annoy the hell out of them by doing your work cheerfully and effectively. Imagine an ED having to justify to the Board why they want to get rid of the wonderful fundraiser who is doing a great job and raising lots of money, when the rest of the organisation is falling apart.
          Are you courageous? Can you endure? Are you close to the organisation’s mission?
          Forget the politics – stay calm, stay focussed on your job – or get out. Starting a fight with an ED like this is a lost cause. And EDs like this fail in the end. Keep smiling. Keep focussed. Or leave.

  3. In my 25 years, I’ve seen that ED leadership role abandoned time and time again. The ED has to be a coach and built a real relationship with each and every board member.
    Here are some of the fundamentals that can be unearthed when two people have built a genuine relationship built on trust:
    Why are they on your board?
    What is the expectation they have of their service?
    What "win" can the organization deliver?
    What are the "hidden treasures" a board member can bring?
    Keeping the relationship ongoing and moving it up to a real partnership takes one-on-one time away from board and other business. I find that most ED’s have never even had a cup of coffee with a board member.
    Marshall Howard, Let’s Have Lunch Together

  4. I am a co-founder and ED of a relatively new nonprofit, a therapeutic equestrian center. Out of desperation, I guess, we found 3 people to sign up for my board so that we could get our 501(c)3…a lawyer, an ADA accessibility specialist, and a retired vice-principal/current teacher of special needs kids. My co-founder and I did all the work, the bylaws, arts of inc, 1023…everything. They just looked it over and signed off on it.
    Now I’m thinking that giving in to desperation was a mistake. We did get our 501(c) 3 in record time, but now I have a board with only 1 individual doing any work. Fundraising…yeah, right! Not happening. Questions about governance and setting up policy? I’m doing it myself and they are rubber stamping it. Where do I go from here? I’ve found a place to set up operations and the owner is even willing to take $100k off the price, but he can’t hold it forever. He’s a businessman and that’s asking a lot! Grrrr. Can y’all help?
    Advise? Please, please, please!

    1. I have found that although the “norm” of a non profit board is to have the responsibility of fundraising; not all Boards are made up of people that have the ability to fundraise. That was what happened with the Board I was on. Like you, in an act of desperation, we pulled people from the community that were friends and we had a good selection of various professions. Although their input and discussions on issues that were pertinent to their professions were valuable, their passion for our cause has not been strong enough to motivate them to fundraise for the cause. Our CPA is passionate about the finances of the organization; our attorney is passionate about the legalities involved…it goes on an on. But the passion for the cause just hasnt been there. As a suggestion to you….find some people with the passion. As far so those people you already have…teaching them their roles as Board Members should be step one. You being the founder must give them every tool they need to do the best possible job they can…maybe some technical assistance for your current Board members might be an option. Recruit a few more Board members that are involved with your service. In the meantime, keep on plugging along. It’s obvious you have the passion!!

  5. Being a young ED, I am still learning a lot about my role in board governance and leadership. I liken it to my staff actually. I don’t have a staff, but I have my board. And while volunteer, they are who I need to ‘work’ for me in areas I can’t – and maybe only can’t because there is only so many hours in a day.

    It’s a great challenge though as their support continues to feed my work and their lack of support can often make it feel overwhelming and under-appreciated. And ultimately, it falls on my conscience which way they sway.

    So while I would love to complain about them – when they are ‘checked out’ – I know it comes down to my engagement of them. And if they can’t be engaged (which I’m finding some of them cannot), I have most certainly taken leadership in recruiting new members that I can engage.

    But in the end, what I find most interesting and perplexing, is how much the energy/engagement of members falls off in a relatively short time. In my experience, it seems if a member does not step into a direct leadership position on the board (meaning, they take initiative right away), then they lose interest after a few months – no matter what I do.

    So, my question: Were they just the wrong people? Or is there something I am not doing (or am doing) to keep them engaged?

    PS – We are a 501 c4 political advocacy organization – so engagement is relevant, in that, our mission is to engage/activate our advocates. If I don’t have an active board, it presents its own challenges.

    1. I think the key to a good Board is finding those people that have a passion for the cause you represent. Yes, you need Board members from different professions and areas of the community you serve, but what I have found out in my years of experience is that passion is the key. An attorney or CPA or doctor…are all good professions and do come in handy when you discuss legal matters, finance issues or even medical needs…however, if those people do not have the passion, their attention does tend to fall off.
      Our Board has consisted of a CPA, a local business owner, a retired college professor, a retired VP or nursing, an attorney, a social worker, a physician and a pharmeutical sales rep. Of the eight mentioned, two have been personally touched by the cause we represent. Those two members have gone above and beyond their volunteerism. The discussion in which they engage, the decisions in which they make show they are truly looking out for the mission of the program.
      At the time most of the eight were recruited, our Board was very unorganized. We performed the matrix to see what professional areas we needed and we filled those positions. The unfortunate part, the matrix doesn’t include “passion” factors!! We got lucky that two of the eight had the passion!
      I truly think most people are good people. I think your people are probably good people. Moving forward, recruit people with passion. For now, just make sure your current Board members are well equipped to do their best possible job…put them on committees…keep them involved and most importantly, keep them trained.
      Never lose sight of the passion though.

  6. Why do your editors insist on making so many generic references to gender in the feminine? This kind of political correctness detracts from what are otherwise often useful commentaries. There are lots of acceptable ways to make statements gender neutral, which Im sure you know. And choose not to anyway. Since you presumably believe that many talented men AND women are needed for the nonprofit sector to be as successful as it can be, this is really annoying. Youve lost a reader today. It’s not like you are the only place we can seek this kind of information.
    Rich in DC

    1. Rich, I’m glad you brought this up! With 70% of the staff in the nonprofit sector being female we typically try to use both genders in articles, but if there is only one opportunity, we usually opt for female.

      I believe the gender issue is remarkably un-examined in the nonprofit sector. What do we make of the fact that this is a female-dominated sector? Should we be doing more to understand how to recruit men? Why do women of color find leadership positions in mainstream organizations more readily than men of color? When we raise wages in nonprofits, do we attract more men?

      Your comments and these questions are important ones for us all to be discussing.

    2. I have the opposite response to Rich in DC’s. I find it rather refreshing to have the generics be feminine. It shakes up my preconceptions in a way that’s good for me. As for “s/he” and other such forms, I think they’re clumsy and simply hard to read. But I’ll keep reading . . .

    3. Love your, and thank you for, using the feminine pronouns — "she," "her" — when referring to executive directors in this article. I LOVE IT!

  7. As an ED, I definitely agree that I have responsibility for the board’s performance. However, I feel like my hands are significantly tied when the board has told me that I am not to be involved in the vetting of new board members. I have been told pointedly that it is not the ED’s role to meet or interview board candidates, nor (according to the board chair) should I be involved in discussing the board candidates prior to a vote. I know I’m not supposed to vote, but if the board doesn’t see it as my role to engage potential board members from the very beginning, it certainly puts me in a deficit position in building the board’s capacity and performance.

  8. I disagree with Drucker. His work, although golden, is out of touch with the fast pace of modern day industry, for profit and non profit. The non profit Corporation is THE BOARD, not the staff. The ED works at the pleasure of the Board. Anytime I see a non profit where/when the ED is the center of all that matters I regard that as a best politic not a best practice. Older ED’s will tell you to run your Board or they will run you away. So, we work to raise all the money, manage the non profit, create strategic plans, negotaite all legal contracts, settle staff disputes, design marketing materials, be the technology expert, counsel the clients, partner with funders, collaborate with other organizations, evaluate the logic model and outcomes, etc. etc. The Board drops into the non profit universe once per month to then re-organize what the ED has done based upon what is happening in their Corporate world! What! It is a business model that reaks of error, set backs, and bad politics. The role of the ED is to put good product on the shelf. The role of the Board is to move product off the shelf into the hands of paying customers. That’s my two cents.

  9. The article resonates with my 25 years as a nonprofit executive and is an excellent reminder of how important it is for executives to find the time for board development. The relationship between the board and its chief executive is one of the more puzzling management systems out there. It can work and work well but is never simple or to be taken for granted–even when there is a strong board and a strong executive.

    A challenge for the sector seems to be that there is so much inexperienced leadership in place. I heard recently that more than 50% or more of newly hired executives have never done this work before.

    Thank you for the article. Drucker’s work and book on managing the nonprofit organization are just as relevant now as it was 25 years ago.

    1. As a former board member who is now an ED for the same group this article is a very timely bit of information. As a board member, I spent 3 years wondering what it was the ED actually did besides collect a nice salary. I was treasurer and I did everything with the financials including paying the bills, depositing and counting all monies from fundraising, financial statements, investing money and everything else relating to money. Now that I am ED, I still do all the money except for reconciling the bank statements which the treasurer does so we have a checks and balances. I have looked through all the file cabinets and the computer and have yet to find a single grant that was written by the former ED. I have written 12 in the last two months.
      The board still reveres the previous ED. She could do no wrong in their eyes. I have tried to make some structure changes in the board and have recruited 10 new members in the past 2 years. These are the only board members who actually do anything. The rest of the board comes to the occasional board meeting and votes against any changes. It is very frustrating to try and figure out what board reponsibilities are and what ED responsibilities are. I went the rounds with the former board president all last year until he spent $10,000 without authorization of the board. He resigned about a month later.

      I guess what I am asking is if I am overstepping my bounds. I realize that the ED should not recruit board members, but no one else will and we need new blood badly. We build recreational trails and there is a lot of work to be done. I am only part-time, well part-time pay, full time work, and I make about 5,000 less a year than the previous ED. I knew I was going to make less but I needed a cause to be passionate about and this was it, so I took the job. It is frustrating to keep running into walls with the board. I am hoping that as we bring on new people the old people are falling off the board. That is happening just not very fast.

      Any suggestions for continuing to improve the board? We do hang out outside of board meetings and are friends so there is a good relationship between us.

      1. If no one is recruiting board members, the ED needs to do two things: to work closely with the most likely board members to help them recruit, and to recruit candidates herself that the board can then review.

        The alternative, of course, is doing nothing out of desire to stay within bounds, and then nothing will change.

        Do board members realize how frustrated you feel? Too often we EDs feel we always have to be positive and upbeat, and board members never get a sense that we’re unhappy about anything!

        1. The board president does because I told him. The rest of the board is clueless about most everything. I just really wish they would put what they want to be responsible for and what I should be responsible for. It would make life easier.

  10. I am a young director, with 6 years program development experience, and a lot of ability to work well with my staff and to develop an agency and it’s programs. I will also say that when hired I had never before sat on a board or participated in agency governance. I endeavored to remain humble and open to learning what I could from this opportunity, and then applied myself to doing so as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. When I was hired I made clear my desires to be working hands on with clients and to be developing programs (which were virtually non existent). I was under the impression that the board was doing the fund raising needed to pursue a large expansion in programming and they communicated the need and the budgetary ability to hire staff to accomplish such tasks.

    I have now been employed by the agency for just over one year and have come to realize that the board is not fund raising in ANY capacity, and that they have been aware for some time that the programmatic growth they have proposed and asked me to oversee is going to double the operational budget, and bankrupt the agencies reserves in 1-2.5 years. I have also been asked to hire new staff for specific needs and then when they were hired openly critiqued for having put the board in the “uncomfortable position” of “setting a new precedent” for having hired a new staff member without consulting with the board.

    I have also quickly become aware that not one of the board members has a skill set with which to govern a non-profit agency. Not one of them has ever worked for a non profit, not one of them has any financial literacy, not one of them has a legal background, not one of them has knowledge of anything relevant to the services provided (social service/health and human service). When asking to recruit new board members I learned that there was a protocol set in place by which I would have to propose the names of those I would like to approach, and that they would first need to be voted upon as viable candidates based on whether or not they had donated, whether they have demonstrated a strong political stance regarding issues of concern to our agency, etc instead of real skill sets which would benefit the agency.

    I have just recently made known my desire to resign and would like to part on a positive note if possible, but am already being scrutinized for my reasoning, and asked to consider staying on in a different capacity. Am I making the right decision to leave?

    1. Regardless of who is "right," if you desire to leave, you should do so. A different road would have been to embark on changing the board and how you work with them. But if you have already indicated your desire to leave, probably best to do so.

      The one thing I wouldn’t advise is to stay on, but in a different capacity. That works in a few situations, but not in most. Find a new organization with a new position where you’ll feel more comfortable and as a result, will probably be more effective as well. Take care!

  11. This article couldn’t have come at a better time for me. My problem as a new E.D. is the board being asleep at the wheel and leaving 99% of everything to the former E.D. They were not aware of our precarious financial situation, that I’d been hired without enough salary to sustain for a year, or that our bylaws were completely outdated.

    I’m now having to navigate trying to get the board to ‘own’ and govern the organization while staying positive and not sounding like a major nag.

    1. Good for you! I hope the board realizes that their leaving everything to the former ED is one of the main reasons they are in the current pickle. Remember that it’s possible the most important thing you can be doing is bringing on new people to the board. Sometimes it’s smarter to change who’s on the board than to change the people who are already on the board.

  12. Jan: I have been following your writing for years and I have to say that your articles are always dead on. In this article once again you exceeded my expectations. Thank you so much for continuing to provide this service. H.Y.

  13. I have two thoughts on this. First, responsibility for Board performance shouldn’t be solely the province of one individual. The Board Chair and E.D. should be working in partnership to improve the Board’s performance. There should be a Governance Committee or Board Development Committee that establishes and implements process of recruitment, orientation, evaluation and acknowledgement that lead to an active, effective Board.

    Second, what is missing from this discussion is the model of a fully volunteer run organization, one without any staff. In these organizations, there is no E.D. to provide leadership and guidance to the Board. Responsibility must come from within. I actually think that organizations which start as entirely volunteer have a better track record of Board engagement because it is ingrained in organizational culture from the beginning.

  14. I am a senior citizen in Canada having a problem with an American corporation that makes printers and is headquartered in California. Initially, I paid over $ 300 for my printer which appears to be defective.

    In addition, the Corporation was caught tampering with firmware of several of their printer models world-wide (including mine) to stop customers from using refillable ink cartridges. Many customers got tired of paying exorbitant prices for genuine ink cartridges that contain a teaspoon or two of ink. Because customers had already purchased these printers, it appears the Corporation violated fair trade practices. Six Californians have now filed a class action suit against the Corporation. A law firm in Canada is signing up Canadian customers as well. The case is pending.

    I have never used refillable inks, however, when I bought genuine brand name ink cartridges, they would not work. I kept buying more news ones. Some would work, and some would not. It spent a fortune on ink cartridges which cost about $50 each CDN. Surely there is something wrong with my printer and/or its firmware.

    I have no interest in joining any law suit. I just want to get a replacement printer, some ink cartridges, and an extended warranty plan. I am willing to contribute say $50 CDN toward replacement costs.

    I went up through the Corporation’s customer service department without success and respectfully brought the issue to the attention of the Escalations Dept of the company. However, I was harassed by an Escalations supervisor. She raised her voice when speaking with me, she talked over my voice when I was speaking, she tried to prevent me from speaking, and, by her manner of speech and tone of voice, harassed me while I tried to resolve my service issues amicably. I am in remission from cancer and my doctor told me to stay away from stress and avoid conflict.

    I filed a Standard of Business Conduct complaint against the supervisor, and sent it to the company’s Compliance Officer and heard nothing back. I sent another polite note and again, nothing. So, I called the Compliance Office. It is a private company hired by the Board to take compliance complaints.

    The Compliance Office supervisor and manager were more obnoxious that the Escalation supervisor of the Corporation! I asked to speak to manager of the Compliance Office. He refuses to call back.

    I understand that any Board in America is compelled to ensure that the Board itself, and its executives and staff, are complying with the rules of conduct, or more precisely, the Standard of Business Conduct, which is intended to prevent harassment and other issues.

    When I point this out to the Compliance Office, they tell me that customers of the corporation are not covered by the Board’s policy preventing harassment — only employees of the Corporation. Common sense would tell you that this is not correct. Otherwise, we would have the scenario where the employees of the corporation, under the direction of the Board, do not harass one another, but who are permitted to freely harass customers without fear of reprisal from the company? I don’t think so.

    The Corporation would not exist without the loyalty of its customers, new and old, who buy products and services.

    Very frustrating to me as a senior citizen. Are the days gone when Boards of Directors ensured that their VPs and CEOs are dealing with customer complaints fairly and reasonably, rather than pulling up the drawbridge and ignoring all emails, phone calls, and letters from dissatisfied customers?

    Also, as an aside, if a corporation is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, but is headquartered in California, which state’s laws regarding Securities and Exchange do they follow? New York or California?

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