From Your Board: March 2018

by Keith McKenney

Happy March, y'all!

As a former staff member, I feel acutely aware of the lack of a certain clarity around the role of Common Ground's Board of Directors. As such, I am particularly interested in making our Board's work more visible. To that end, in this month's dispatch I'll focus on reporting some of our committees' current efforts.

First, I want to acknowledge the hard work of the ad hoc General Manager (“GM”) search committee. They (Marissa Stewart, Magdalena Casper-Shipp, Julie Zilles, and--since November 2017--Karen Medina) have had their collective nose to the grindstone for nearly a year. Searching for a GM is one of the most daunting tasks a board will take on, and at long last their hard work has paid off.
Again: Welcome, Gary!

With that chapter closed, we are looking forward to regrouping and focusing on other priorities.

“Like what,” you say, in unison.

I'm glad you asked.

Well, for starters, the Policy committee (on which I sit along with Charles Delman) is in the process of doing a comprehensive review of the entirety of the Board's Governance policies. We hope to have this done by the end of the year.

“Why is this important,” you may ask.
Well, the Governance Policies establish such things as:

  • What the General Manager can/can not do (“Executive Limitations”)  

  • How the Board assesses the GM's performance (“Monitoring”)

  • How the Board is structured and is to function (“Board Process”)

  • Guidelines for the directors' relations with management and owners

That's all!
“NBD,” as the kids say.

I hear you inquire, “Why now?”
We feel it's timely. While policies are modified as the need arises, a thorough examination of the full text ensures we are adequately adapting to current conditions. Such an overhaul last occurred in 2013. And, with a new GM on board, it's a good time to reevaluate things as we look ahead to the next era of our coop. Plus, Charles and I are the kinds of weirdos that find this kind of thing entertaining.

In addition, the Policy committee was recently tasked with examining our Board disciplinary procedures to hold ourselves more accountable.

But enough about me.

The Outreach committee (Kristin Walters, Karen M, Marissa) is busy coordinating with staff on organizing our annual Financial Meeting of Owners (FinMoO) which is right around the corner in April, and beyond that, the yearly Meeting of Owners (MOO) that happens in the fall.
They are also working on revamping Board engagement events with the goal of making them focused, fun and reaching more owners.

They also wish to solicit your input on what and where you love volunteering in our community

The Board Development committee, responsible for organizing board education and elections, consists of Margaret Johnstone and Magdalena Casper-Shipp. Learning from the 2016 elections, which saw five of our nine seats being filled by new faces, they created a "quick guide" to help onboard new directors more quickly for fall 2017.  As covered in the December 2017 newsletter, the Development committee organized an inspiring retreat for the board during which we set our goals for the coming year. As part of our study calendar, they've also organized two education sessions for the full Board on finances. They are now working on reviewing our election procedures in preparation for the 2018 elections coming in fall.

One of the Board's 2018 priorities is Visioning. In January, we charged a Visioning Working Group (Karen Carney and Julie), with developing and leading a process to articulate our collective vision for Common Ground. The process will involve opportunities for input from all stakeholder groups, including owners, staff, producers, and community leaders. Right now, the working group is conducting some preliminary investigations of potential directions, in preparation for working closely with our new GM and collecting input from all of you.

I hope this illuminates some of what we do.
Please, let us know if you have questions. We answer to you; it's why we're here.

Thanks for reading!