By Pam Pelc, Planning Committee Chair
How It Began
In August 2012, AANR’s president, Susan Weaver, asked the Planning Committee to assess the governance structure of AANR. She had been reading many professional materials that looked at board size and structure. It made her wonder if AANR’s structure could be improved to help our organization move more effectively and professionally into the future.
How It Progressed
For nearly a year and a half, the Planning Committee has studied our board structure and composition:
• Considering what professionals in the field of associations have discovered about boards,
• Discussing options that would improve the structure and composition of our own board of trustees,
• Identifying qualifications that are placed on candidates preventing some competent and dedicated people from running for office.
• Presenting initial recommendations at all of the regional conventions this past summer,
• Getting feedback from our members after each of those conventions,
• Discussing all of the feedback we received, and
• Developing final recommendations based on both our initial study and the feedback we were given.
What’s Happening Now
Some of the improvements in the nominating process suggested by committee members are already being implemented. Instead of the role of Nominating Committee Chair falling automatically to the regional president where the convention is held, the chair will now be chosen from the regional presidents by the AANR president based on the individual’s skills, interest, and commitment of time, subject to ratification by the board of trustees.
The Nominating Committee will continue to consist of the regional presidents and/or theirdesignated representatives. A nominations form that encourages candidates to highlight their qualifications through identification of core competencies possessed will be used for the upcoming 2014 election. This new form will allow voters to see the strengths and qualifications each candidate would bring to the board of trustees and select those with the most important competencies needed to run our organization.
If the membership votes on the 2014 mail ballot to change the composition of the board, restrictive qualifications will be removed for the 2016 election. This will provide more members having the dedication, skills, and sufficient time the opportunity to take an active, elective role in AANR.
What’s Happening Next
Proposed changes in the board structure and composition, if approved by a vote of our membership on the upcoming 2014 ballot, would not take place until the 2016 elections. The Planning Committee is recommending a board of trustees composed of 10 individuals (reduced from our current 14) chosen by the highest vote count of the membership.
One member from each region where a candidate is running would be selected and the remaining Board members would be chosen based on the highest vote count from among the rest of the candidates. More important than the reduction of four members, the nomination process would be changed further to make it possible for more dedicated, competent people to run for office. Restrictions that have limited the pool of candidates to those who had held regional office or were club owners would be removed.
All trustees would represent both clubs and members. Requirements for a certain number of endorsement signatures would be eliminated. Provisions regarding length of term, being a member in good standing, and preventing an individual from holding two offices at the same time would remain. This would result in a greater number of people being eligible to run for a position as trustee. It would encourage more individuals to run for office, leading to a truly democratic and competitive election where the best individuals could be selected.
There are a number of reasons that the Planning Committee, as well as many members who provided feedback, believe a smaller board composed of trustees possessing the competencies needed in our organization would be a better board, able to operate more effectively using current and future technologies with maximum efficiency.
In today’s society fewer people have the time and interest to volunteer, making it difficult to create a slate of candidates which gives voters a choice.
In recent years there has very seldom been more than one candidate running for each of the 14 trustee positions. It has often been hard to find even one person for every position and many of those who agreed to run have been able to devote less time than is optimal for the governance of the association.
The elimination of some restrictions and the reduction in the number of positions needing to be filled would give voters a choice where they can select the 10 most qualified candidates for their board. Electing individuals with the competencies needed to run our organization would ensure that trustees possess the skills to chair AANR’s key committees.
They will have the knowledge and the decision-making power to implement programs that will keep AANR moving forward. Better and more frequent interactions and communications would be facilitated by a smaller board. Conference calls involving fewer individuals would be easier to schedule and more efficient in handling business. A smaller group would tend to stay more focused on the topic being discussed. Fiscal advantages would be gained when the travel and lodging expenses for the two required yearly meetings are reduced by the fewer number of trustees.
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