The new bylaws will support processes by which stakeholders are given appropriate organizational access and input. The Board, Executive Director and Senior Managers will both communicate with you (the stakeholders) and hear from you in committee meetings, consultations, general meetings, surveys and an up-to-date website and newsletter system. This transparency in governance will help to make sure everyone is treated fairly and everyone’s work is put toward achieving the organization’s mission.
Governance is overseen by members and their elected board. Programming is addressed by management and staff with the input of parents, students, volunteers, and community members (all stakeholders) who are engaged in these programs. Under the previous “working board” model, operational and program decisions were made at Board level. This system caused confusion in the early stages of the transition. However, the Executive Director is now responsible for being the bridge between governance (board) and operations (staff). The new bylaws, with more detail and clear direction, reflect this change.
We have heard from staff and faculty that they have not had a voice, and similarly, other stakeholders have not had clearly-defined forums to help with defining and achieving our mission. Board members, too, have been unable to keep up with the many decisions, both major and minor, that are required to keep the organization sustainable and legally and financially compliant. The hiring of an Executive Director, which allowed for the implementation of new systems, policies and oversight, has had an immediate positive impact.
Defining Engagement and Roles:
The Board welcomes engagement and participation for those who do not want to take on rights and obligations of membership. Therefore, the new bylaws and policies will provide more clarity on volunteers, committee terms of reference, associations for students, teachers and parents, so that all types of stakeholders have a clear sense of their individual roles, rights and obligations.
Many are interested in programming and operations, but the board is not the place to have direct programming influence. The board is the place where we ensure that access and participation is in place, available, equitable, meaningful and effective.
Of course, the Board Directors are volunteers as well, and also subject to the bylaws and policies. The individuals who serve on the Board represent the members and community – they are not there to have their “own way.” Directors strongly believe that the opportunity to serve the community in a meaningful way is an obligation to the community.
We are also considering tangible ways to make stakeholder participation easier; for instance, providing childcare and language translation. While these considerations are at an early stage, their intent is for the broadest participation in committees, meetings and other stakeholder roles.