SGCI Restructuring Vote Results

by | Oct 20, 2021 | Undergraduate 2019 | 0 comments

The SGCI Board is pleased to announce results from the Restructuring Proposal that was emailed to members in mid-September 2021. Voting closed on October 4, 2021. 

All three restructuring measures were passed overwhelmingly. 

Many thanks to each of you who participated.

Improvements to the structure at SGCI have been an ongoing task of the bylaws subcommittee and were discussed during the virtual membership meeting in 2021. The proposed changes along with a detailed plan of implementation are the result of a year’s worth of work that commenced after consensus to move forward with this plan from the Mid Year meeting in November 2020. The work included research on nonprofit best practice standards, consultation with experts, and a review by a lawyer. 

The board decided to break the larger issue of internal changes into three categories so that members could have more input in the final outcome. The broad support for all three measures makes the work of the bylaws subcommittee much easier going forward, because of the trust it shows in leadership at SGCI. Please watch for upcoming communications as the approved structures are implemented within leadership. Thank you once more for your engagement and care for our organization!

PROPOSAL #1: VOTING VS. NONVOTING BOARD POSITIONS – PASSED

Each board member who assumes the governance responsibilities to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, such as SGCI, must have equal rights and protections. Because each board decision represents group consensus, any individual whose responsibility includes regular participation in meetings, discussions, and oversight should accordingly have the right to vote on board decisions.  They should also be protected by SGCI’s D&O policy, which covers all voting members of the board. 

The murkiness surrounding expectations of service and liability of our nonvoting members of the SGCI board does not meet best practice standards, and it must be changed. Clarification for these roles is essential for equity in leadership.

PROPOSAL #1 ASKS MEMBERS TO SUPPORT THE FOLLOWING:

  1. All board positions immediately become voting positions.  Any member currently serving as a non-voting member is added to the roster of voting members. You can find the 2020-2022 board on our website. 
  2. Any motion to add advisory-only positions in the future must be clearly identified in SGCI meeting agendas & minutes.  Approval for advisory-only positions must come from a board vote. 

PROPOSAL #2: STAGGERED TERMS – PASSED

The current model for SGCI board service is unsustainable because it can lead to fatigue, disengagement, and burnout. Our bylaws dictate that board terms are 2 years, elected on even-numbered years. This means that the entire group of volunteer leaders changes every 2 years.

Any retention of returning board members only happens when an individual elects to run again, either for the same or a different position or remains in their capacity as former treasurer or president. 

It has come to our attention that the total size of our board needs to be written in our Bylaws. A board that is too large becomes unwieldy and can lead to disengagement. We need to eliminate the conflicting language found throughout our guiding documents and determine a sustainable cap on board size.  After receiving professional recommendations, we suggest a cap of 12 voting members.

Presently, our best-case scenario for maintaining stability in leadership is that the group may be comprised of at least a few remaining on the board for a second term. These more seasoned members can help by providing background information on what the preceding group learned or experienced. In the cases where some board members do elect to remain in service for a second or third term, there is a high risk of burnout or lack of diversity in leadership. 

The worst-case scenario for board succession is that the entire SGCI board changes in a single election cycle. This scenario is very disruptive and stressful to the new group. They are unfortunately simultaneously saddled with high expectations and minimal support.  They legally must provide oversight and make decisions that have real consequences for the organization. In many cases, the rapid turnover doesn’t allow enough time for the new group to become familiar with the inner workings of the organization before they are asked to take action. Understandably, this cycle typically leads to a lag in timely action as individuals scramble to learn the tasks at hand. Assigning responsibility without adequate training isn’t sustainable. We propose a change in the way that elections and terms are staggered in order to remedy this problem. The board has written a detailed plan for implementing these changes.  This plan has been reviewed by a lawyer and a professional nonprofit advisory group. 

PROPOSAL #2 ASKS MEMBERS TO SUPPORT THE FOLLOWING

  1. SGCI adopts an annual election cycle, in which 3 members are elected each year.
  2. SGCI board terms are changed from 2 years to 3 years.
  3. The self-selected officers who have volunteered to remain in service for an additional year are approved by the membership to continue in service to complete a 3-year term.
  4. A cap of 12 VOTING board positions will be added to our bylaws.

PROPOSAL #3: COLLABORATIVE LEADERSHIP MODEL – PASSED

And finally, we propose a non-hierarchical leadership system in which members are elected to a general board position and then the officer duties of President, Vice(s), Secretary & Treasurer are determined internally by the elected board each year. This will allow for shared workloads, more effective training, and diversity in leadership.

Some SGCI board positions require the equivalent donated hours of a part-time job, at 10-15 hours per week. In some cases, hours of training and independent research are required in order to be sure that the organization is meeting its legal obligations. A structure that places heavier loads on a small percentage of the board is inequitable, risky, and limits potential growth.

There are many ways that a non-hierarchical model is potentially implemented. One idea might be, for example, to assign two board members to serve together in one role. Another might be to allow an officer role that has a high burden of time to pass from one person to another during a 3-year term. An individual in the role of President may only agree to the position if they could expect to maintain their position for an entire 3-year term so that they could see their larger-scope goals for the organization realized during their time of service.  With collaborative leadership, it would be possible to eliminate positions such as the immediate past Treasurer or past President, because the training can be more organically passed along. If this idea is adopted, implementation will require careful consideration, specifically timed planning and follow-through from current and future board members. 

The SGCI board remains largely operational, despite our aspirational goal of focusing more on governance. We recognize that, given the relatively small size of our organization alongside the realities of the economic climate, being an operational board vs. a governing board is not an either-or proposition.  As such, the SGCI Board recognizes the need for our volunteers to continue performing many of the day-to-day tasks required to keep the organization alive. The operational workloads, however, must be distributed equally to all in service. With improvements in structure, we can hope to maintain the wonderful organization that has already been built and passed down to printmakers since the 1970s while simultaneously imagining new opportunities for growth. 

PROPOSAL #3 ASKS MEMBERS TO SUPPORT THE FOLLOWING

  1. Adopt the practice of general board elections with the expectation that the board, as a group, identify specific duties following the election. Officer duties and jobs will be assigned based on existing skills, aptitudes, and interests of individual board members.

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