From January 2016 through December 2018 I had the privilege of serving on the PASS Board of Directors. I was selected to fill a vacancy, but ran in the elections of 2016 to fill a two-year term.
I used the term privilege deliberately, though at many times it didn’t feel that way. There are times when, as a board member, you’re a target for dissatisfied members of our community. Those times are tough, but they happen in most any position of responsibility.
Privilege is the right word, though, because, for someone who cares deeply for our community, and wants that community to thrive and grow, a place on the PASS Board is unique, and provides many opportunities to make that happen.
Over the three years I spent on the board, the responsibilities and approach to managing the programs PASS offers changed dramatically. When I joined, each Director-at-Large had a portfolio, and that was our primary focus. (In 2016, I managed the Programs portfolio, and in 2017, I managed Partnerships.) In 2018, that approach changed (for the better, I think) and I served as part of the Community team.
One of the comments I hear frequently is that people join the board and are “never heard from again”. I will say that responding to public criticism is problematic, because as a board member, your comments carry more weight. You have to be careful to avoid escalating a problem inadvertently. That criticism is taken seriously, though, and discussed at length, before a response from the Board is made. I’ve taken part in many of those discussions, and wasn’t happy with the outcome at times, but agreed that what was decided was what was best for PASS as a whole.
So, why should you run for the Board?
Because you’ll make a difference. I know, because I did. Multiple times. There are policies and programs in place now that are there because I fought for them. I put together my case, and discussed them at length. I won’t share what they are because they were ultimately a board decision, backed by the entire board. I believe that PASS is better because of those changes I helped to make.
This is the principal reason you should consider running – you’ll make a difference. Like any organization, it needs to grow to survive.
As I approach retirement, I decided last year I’d step aside for someone younger, more invested in the future of PASS. I served as the NomCom chair last year, and am serving on the NomCom this year as a community member. I’m still invested in the future of PASS, just not as a board member any longer.
My request to you is to look at the Ideal Candidate Description, the FAQ, the Application, all of the documentation on the PASS NomCom page. Read through it, and think about how you can make a difference for PASS. There is a time commitment, and it’s important that your employer support your involvement, but the commitment is truly worth it.
I look forward to reading through your applications, and to meeting you in the interviews we’ll have with you before elections.