2015 proved to be a transition year for the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES). I am honored to have been given the opportunity to be part of moving IES from a transitional phase to one of growth, innovation, and renewal. As the new calendar year begins, most of us are busy catching up on work from over the holidays and starting the year off fresh and ready to accomplish our goals. Here at IES, we too are busy, busy working to improve the member experience, increase the value of membership, and execute on the vision set by the Board. There are a number of initiatives that we at IES will be working on that will involve us proactively seeking input from you, the member. One of these areas is through the annual voting process, which I encourage all of you to participate in.
Nonprofits rely immensely on their Boards of Directors. I myself serve on behalf of the Board. Boards can either help propel an association forward or become a roadblock to its success. IES is lucky to have a dedicated Board that has invested in ensuring that the association undertakes the necessary changes in order to execute on the strategic vision and elevate IES to new heights. Voting as part of the Board election process is a very important member benefit, and an opportunity for you to have input on how well you were represented by the Board of Nominations, which is one of the most important and hardest working committees for any nonprofit organization. This committee is established to represent the membership not only in the “vetting” of Board Member candidates, but in establishing a process for leadership development.
Oftentimes in nonprofits, a lack of transparency regarding process can create a perception that the Board of Nominations simply selects candidates that it “knows” or who have “served their time” as volunteers in other capacities. This belief is typically rooted in the opinion that there should be multiple names put forward by the Board of Nominations for each position to allow the membership to vote on which candidate they would prefer. While the Board of Nominations certainly has the ability to decide whether or not it believes that there are enough qualified candidates to have multiple names put forward for each position, it can make the decision to only put forward one slate. The problem with the scenario of having multiple names put forward is that it could result in an election based on popularity as opposed to identifying the candidate who has the skillset and characteristics that Board Members must possess.
In fact, the process of having one slate of candidates approved and proposed by the Board of Nominations is not only in accordance with best practices for nonprofits, but is the recommended practice. The nominations process is open to the entire membership and anyone that meets the requirements detailed in our bylaws is eligible to serve as a Board Member. The Board of Nominations then carefully reviews each candidate. The review process is not to determine what the candidates “have done” for IES, but more precisely what characteristics they have that can provide value to IES in the future.
IES has a clear strategic vision, as well as a set of criteria and desired competencies it requires from its Board Members. The Board of Nominations goal is to provide the link between these two and identify leaders that embody the necessary characteristics to allow us to execute on our strategy. The desired competencies that are sought include, but are not limited to, knowledge or experience with governance, the ability to think strategically, and the commitment to work effectively within a consensus decision-making body. We have a lot of work that needs to get done and at this time our Board Members are not just passing judgement or approving certain processes, they are rolling up their sleeves and putting in many hours of work to help advance IES.
In the future you can certainly expect to see positive changes regarding transparency and the Board of Nominations process. Some of these changes will potentially include…
- Actively publicizing the “job description” for our open Board positions, which will describe the desired competencies and work that will be expected.
- Communicating to the members the process for identifying and electing the most qualified candidates in a transparent, timely, and comprehensive manner.
- Ensuring that the pipeline for potential candidates is as wide and accessible as possible.
- Articles written by past Board Members describing the value of serving on this important volunteer body.
- And much, much more.
The most important goal that I have set for myself as Executive Vice President is to improve transparency. Transparency fosters a culture of trust and an environment that we are all proud to be part of. The Board of Nominations conducts the most important annual process and does so in accordance with best practices for nonprofits. By improving and increasing the transparency of this process, it is my hope that it will help to provide a better understanding and address any negative perceptions or concerns.
My door is always open and as I hopefully displayed at the 2015 Annual Conference in Indianapolis, I enjoy communicating with our membership. Please feel to contact me at any time, for any reason, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Executive Vice President
Illuminating Engineering Society