Governance is simply the way an organization is structured to meet the needs of its membership. Every now and then, it is in the best interest of an organization to review the way it operates, and look for ways to streamline and/or make improvements to its operations.
Within ASHI, there are many different individuals or groups of individuals who comprise our “governance” structure. Our executive director and his staff, the officers and directors (BOD), the Council of Representatives (COR), the national committees and all of our chapter leaders make up and perform the important functions and duties of governance. Years ago, the ASHI board of directors was made up of one representative from each chapter as well as members at large. In the early 1990s, when the number of directors grew too large (over 50) to be effective and manageable, the board voted to create the current structure that consists of a board of 21 members, including 6 officers. A council of representatives was also created so the chapters and membership at large could participate in society affairs.
I have served as a member of either the COR or the BOD every year since the current governance model was implemented, and I believe there may be a better way to organize ourselves to create a more positive synergy to carry out our mission and increase our membership services. Streamlining our operations may also result in cost savings, which is important during these tough times for the housing industry.
Last fall, I attended a leadership conference presented by BoardSource, an organization dedicated to providing support and resources to nonprofit boards and executives. One of the many topics discussed was trends in the effective governance of nonprofit associations. It was intriguing to hear about the wide variety of nominating processes, size and makeup of boards, committee structures, regionalization of members or chapters and other systems that are used by other associations.
Can change be a good thing?
At the annual COR meeting at InspectionWorld/New Orleans, the council voted to create a governance task force to research alternate forms of governance to see if there are changes that could be incorporated into our current structure to streamline our processes and help ASHI be more efficient and effective. The task force is made up of three members of the BOD and three members of the COR, with Jeff Arnold, our new executive director, as the liaison. The board members are third-year member Andy Kasznay, second-year member Brendan Ryan and first-year member Frank Libero. The COR members are Larry Cerro, past COR speaker from Florida; Jack McGraw, COR group leader and chapter president from Northern Illinois; and Randy Sipe, group leader from the Great Plains Chapter. This task force will select its chair and begin to search for potential changes that may help ASHI better position itself for the future.
The task force will present its recommendations to the board and the council for discussion and review. Any changes proposed will require policy and bylaw changes and ultimately a vote of the entire membership. I ask that every member support this task force as it undertakes this important work. As I have said previously, change will undoubtedly cause some friction, but the important goal is to streamline, strengthen and position ASHI for the future.