Alex Tischer 2015 Q&A: Other Questions, Group 1

What kind of training would you like to receive for the position of Board member, if you could get any?

To begin with, I would love an actual description of Board work. Even a regular task listing would do. It is not really possible to come up with things I’d like training in without knowing what the job entails. We’re told that Board members spend up to 40 hours a week doing Board work, but what any of that might entail is impossible to guess, since the output of decisions, minutes and statements definitely doesn’t support that claim.

Speaking hypothetically, I assume a refresher course on people management skills as well as time management and the basic concepts of finance management and possibly some non-profit governance training might be a good idea. A crash course on the structure and working of our org in particular might come in handy. Knowing which committee does what and whose purview each thing is could be very useful.

The Board originally had 7 members. This number was raised to 9 when we realized 7 members weren’t enough to manage the OTW efficiently, then lowered again to 7 due to low participation. As it stands, this election would bring the Board to a total of 5 members. Considering the number of candidates in these elections and the growth of the org so far, what are your thoughts on the number of Board seats?

I think while 7 is possibly an adequate number, 9 might still be better for practical reasons like not complicating the vote counts with fractional people. I do think that a year of only 5 members is a bad idea and would have prefered it if the other seats were up for election for a shorter term. The bylaws determine that at least one-third of seats should be up for election each year. That’s at least 2.3 people considering 7 seats. We really could have more than two seats open this year.

What do you feel is your responsibility if the Board you are serving on is poised to make a decision that you believe to be ethically or legally questionable? Conversely, how would you respond if one of your fellow Directors raised similar concerns about a decision you supported?

If the Board I were serving on was poised to make a decision that was ethically or legally questionable, I would feel it my responsibility to mention that fact. Talk it through. Make sure that as much of the discussion as possible is in the open, so other people can see and give feedback. If it came to a vote and I was outvoted, I would make very sure that the minutes and any public talk about the decision included a mention of my disagreement.

If one of my fellow Directors raised similar concerns about a decision I supported, I would take a step back and think the decision through from the beginning, double checking that all points are clear and no questionable arguments had slipped in. Maybe even postponing the decision and having another round of discussion in public to observe how the subject is perceived by others outside the immediate echo-chamber of likeminded Board Directors.