Sunday, October 30, 2011

Who are we? Part I: the Board

Second in a series of posts about the October UUA Board meeting

A turnover of 41%* would be considered substantial in any organization. Yet through a combination of term limits, in-term resignations, and trustees deciding not to run again, that is the change in the UUA Board. In my opinion, this is for the better, not because any of the trustees who left were bad trustees and were not loved dearly by those of us left, but because this is a more diverse board.

Four trustees (plus the Youth Observer, who sits at the board table) identify as Youth or Young Adult – the highest number since I joined this board in 2007. Five identify as Latino/People of Color, and 10 are ministers. Slightly over half (52%) are men, and at least four identify as BGLTQ. This is the last board that will be elected geographically, and it should be noted that because most of our congregations and members are located east of the Mississippi, so are our trustees (12 of 19 districts are primarily east of the Mississppi).

We bring varied backgrounds: IT (information technology), corporate America, small business, the law, teaching, the military, long time UU ministers, and a former nun, to name a few. This typically means an initial struggle, as we learn to understand and accommodate each other’s values and working styles. Our new trustees have already learned that the pace of the board meetings is brutal – a New York Times article about “decision fatigue” was making the rounds during the meetings, and we all identified with it. Yet we are all culpable, asking the moderator to add “one more thing” to the agenda, and have fairly diverse opinions about what agenda items are most valuable. I am more hopeful this time that we will change it.

It’s all good.

*I have included everyone who is elected and normally "sits at the table" and participates in the discussions: this includes 23 trustees, the Youth Observer, the Moderator, the Financial Advisor, and the President.

Next post: Who are we? Part II: the Association

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A new beginning

First in a series of posts about the October 2011 UUA Board meeting

It felt different from the beginning. Ten new board members, a change in tenor from many of us returning. I was very conscious coming to this meeting that I have "only" 20 months left as a UUA trustee. I am not the only one who has a sense of urgency around leaving a board structure that has the support and clarity it needs to function -- knowing full well that each new board that comes after us has to do some of its own definition.

My positive feelings about the ten new board members have only strengthened -- it feels like the learning curve has already been shortened for them, and we are discussing real issues with a deeper level of understanding that I would have expected at this time.

This year's every-other-year retreat was led by the Rev. Margaret Marcuson, a Baptist minister who serves as a spiritual advisor to a number of UU ministers. She is low key, thoughtful. She gives the board space - and time - to sink into our own questions. She names some of our elephants. We create a covenant -- we begin to identify our work over the next few years, a task that will be picked up and amplified over the next few days: governance, shared vision, and annual plan, ministerial credentialing, and reducing the administrative load of the board (including roughly 250 committee appointments). Saturday's items are moved around to allow the board to join Boston's "Occupy Wall Street".

It's going to be an interesting meeting. Read more about it through my posts over the next few weeks.