01st Apr2015

What Kind of Board Member Are You? | My Manifesto

by Christine

2015/2016 Executive Board: The Professional Photographers of Ohio

In our journey in and out of our professional organizations, we take on a number of roles. Members, committee members, chairmen, board members, executive board members. Maybe not all of them, maybe only one of them.  And most likely, not in any specific order.

At some point in time, you might find yourself in a board of director’s seat. And I think it’s very important to decide, in advance, what kind of board member you will be.

Once upon a time, I was the president of a non-profit organization. A 501c3 organization. In my state there are guidelines for non-profits and one of those guidelines is “duty of loyalty.” At the end of the day, when the meetings are over, I must exit my board meeting willing to support the decisions that we made as a team for the organization. Even if I did not agree with proposal or vote in favor of whatever action we took, I supported the decision that was made by the board as a whole. I didn’t get to say “I didn’t support that”, or “I didn’t vote for that.”

When I was nominated for the position, I stood and introduced myself to the general membership. And I was honest. Very honest. I told them I’d be the one that was the pain in their rear end. I’d be the one with the policies, procedures and bylaws in my hand. I’d be the one that questioned everything.

And 9 months later, when the board voted to sweep a financial mishandling/loss/theft under the rug, I resigned. I’m a black and white gal and when areas of gray start interfering – that gets my dander up – I don’t support dancing around with rules and laws and I didn’t agree with failing to take action to address a potential theft. I quietly resigned, took some time to think, filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s office and went on with life.

Yet, here I am again. In spite of that experience, I’ve sucked it up and took the step onto the executive board at the Professional Photographers of Ohio. That took a lot of reflection.

A lot.

And so I feel the need to create my manifesto – my list of things that I will die on a hill for, or at least put up a struggle over….

I believe in honesty. In telling the truth and doing what’s right, even when it might be embarrassing or painful.

I believe in transparency. My actions and words will always align. You won’t be left wondering where I stand.

I believe in loyalty. I will do my best job for the organization I am tasked to lead. It is now a priority and I will do everything in my power to serve its needs. I am one of its protectors. A knight of its round table, if you will.

And because I believe that boundaries should be clearly defined:

I do not believe in politics. And I know about three smart-alecs just quipped in their heads about not believing in something that exists, so I will re-define; I will not participate in politics. If it makes you happy as a clam to let other people dictate how you handle something because of favors wanted/needed/owed or personal biases – then bully for you. But that’s not how it works for me.

I will do what I believe is right for the organization. Period.

So yes, I’m gonna be a pain in your rear end. I’m going to ask questions. A lot of questions. And when things don’t make sense or seem to be going against a policy, procedure, bylaw or law, I’m going to open my mouth and say something.

I have a heart, and I have empathy. But I also have a good old-fashioned conscience and a grasp on what is right and what is not.

And that – is where I stand.

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