This month’s blog post comes from Alex, our Board Chair. Alex has been with me every step of the way ever since I took over as Executive Director and I really couldn’t have done this transition without her by my side. She has been there with me through figuring out financials, mapping out strategic directions, 9 Board Member interviews, and taking over tasks like calling the insurance company to learn about what’s what so I don’t have to. As I said, I really couldn’t have done this transition without her by my side.
This month Alex will talk about her experience as a Board Chair for a year and next month, Alex and Jeanne (our founding Board Chair) will share their conversation and “passing the torch”.
Exactly one year ago, I received a call from Blair, the Department of Imaginary Affairs’ former Executive Director, asking me if I would accept the position of Board Chair. I was honoured to be asked and excited about what was next in the DIA’s future.
After accepting and being sworn in at the May 2020 Annual General Meeting, I had much to think about and big shoes to fill. The board is filled with passionate, creative individuals with different professional backgrounds, and I wanted to ensure we were engaging with all of them. I had great check-ins with every board member to hear their thoughts and to assess what committees they would like to be involved in. Board committee work — including finance, governance, development, and foresight, among others — continues in different forms many months later. DIA’s Executive Director, Jenn, and I are working hard to ensure the committees are working as effectively and efficiently as possible.
We had a Board Retreat in the fall to assess where we are, where we want to go, and how we get there. We filled up multiple Google Jamboards with ideas and questions, and I’ve returned to them continuously over the past few months. Saying goodbye to Blair, and the transition from him to Jenn for the ED role, was a challenge. However, the handover went smoothly, much thanks to Jenn for her flexibility, dedication, and creativity when stepping into the role.
Right now, we’re in the process of board recruitment and orientation for new members, and I’m working closely with Jenn on the organization’s upcoming Annual Report and Strategic Plan. I am reading Breaking Robert’s Rules, recommended to me by Jeanne LeSage, DIA’s previous and founding Board Chair. The book lays out how groups can most effectively collaborate to achieve results and work towards consensus building. I’m excited about the next year — the possibilities that lie beyond COVID-19 and during our recovery, and the programs, opportunities, and processes we can implement.
My keywords for the next year in my role as Board Chair are empathy, sustainability, and equity. This has been a scary year, filled with uncertainty and new realities for so many in our society — we need empathy to support each other and stand in solidarity with those most affected. I am eager to ensure that everything I implement over the next year is sustainable: for our people, for the organization, for the people we work with, and for the environment. Lastly, I want our team and all our work to be deeply committed to equity at all levels. This includes who we are, what we do, and the ways in which we do it.
I will work to have these values guide the decisions I make and how I engage with DIA’s other board members, staff, partners, and community. What three words will shape your year ahead? Let me know your thoughts about this or anything else about the DIA, governance, or what else is on your mind by sending me a message here.