Matty Bowers 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?

Board needs training in a variety of areas:

  • OTW Tools: All Board members should know how to use tools necessary for their work, and have at least some familiarity with the tools used in different parts of the organization.
  • OTW Committees: Board needs to know how each committee works and what they are responsible for.
  • Finances: All Board members should know how the organization’s finances work, where the money comes from, current standing, what major expenses are upcoming, etc.
  • Board Responsibilities: New Board members need to know what exactly Board in general does and what each member’s role is.
  • Good Governance: New Board members should learn about how a volunteer organization works, as well as what their ethical and legal responsibilities are.

These are just a few basic training sessions every new Board members should be given. However, it’s highly unlikely the current new Board members will receive any useful training. Should I be elected, this will change. When I first joined as Support chair there was no documentation or training; after spending the first year in panic mode, I vowed to never leave any succeeding chairs in the same mess I had endured. As soon as I figured out what I was doing, I started creating chair training documentation. It didn’t take long to realize it’s not all that difficult; someone just needs to sit down and make it happen.

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?

Historically Board has had a difficult time filling seats. There are many reasons for this, which I won’t go into here. I think 9 was an optimistic number, but fairly unrealistic. If we couldn’t fill 7 seats, how were we supposed to fill 9?

I think 7 is an attainable goal; one that we may finally be able to reach. I am not happy that there will only be 5 members this year, especially when we actually have enough candidates to fill the remaining spots. If our goal is to have a functional, productive Board, we should be doing everything in our power to encourage growth, not limit it.

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?

It is incredibly easy for insulated groups of people to talk themselves into making poor decisions. With no transparency, accountability, or discourse outside a select group of people, no one is able to intervene until too late. On a Board level, it’s important that we encourage transparency and give our fellow Board members, volunteers, and members a chance to hold us accountable for our actions.

It is absolutely my responsibility to ensure Board upholds the ethical and legal standards our volunteers and members deserve. As a Board member I will not condone anyone deciding they are above the rules or attempting to twist these rules to suit their needs.

One of the first things I tell all my new staffers is that I am not always right; they are encouraged and expected to question my decisions and actions. As a Board member, I will do everything in my power to encourage transparency so that people will be able to point out when I’m making poor or uninformed decisions.