At Convention 2019, Council approved a resolution to create a Task Force on International Governance Practices, Review and Education. The three items that the Task Force was charged with include:
- Complete a comprehensive review of the process by which members are identified as potential candidates for the Executive Board, including a review of the Position Description, Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs), and the Nominating Trustees process including composition of the committee, candidate application, candidate interview questions, and any other items related to this process;
- Study leader cultivation and election best practices, particularly within organizations that follow a governance model; and
- Develop recommendations for ways in which the Executive Board nomination and election process can be revised to more directly align with best practices for Carver Policy Governance and to achieve the democratic principles identified above. The recommendation should include a timeline for implementation of any proposed changes;
The Task Force has reviewed AOII internal documentation and current procedures, interviewed Executive Directors of NPC organizations, and referenced Carver Policy Governance materials on board membership. Based on these items, we have made the following observations and recommendations to respond to the items which we have been charged.
Review of the Current Nominating and Election Process
The Executive Board election process begins with the selection of the Nominating Trustees (“NTs”). Once these sisters are selected, the process consists of two phases in advance of the NTs presenting the eligible candidates to Council for vote: 1) candidate application and 2) candidate interviews and reference checking.
The nominating trustees (“NTs”) serve a two-year term with the objective of vetting the various executive board candidates, presenting eligible candidates to Council and selecting the next group of NTs. The NTs consist of six members, including the following: Past International President, Member of the Rituals, Traditions, and Jewelry Committee, Chapter Adviser, Alumnae Chapter President, Current or Former Member of the Executive Board, and a Member at Large. There are several minimum qualifications for NTs including that they cannot be considered a candidate for election and must be an alumna for at least three years, with one year of AOII leadership experience. At least one member of the current NTs must continue onto the next biennium, but no more than two. The primary duty of the NTs is to confirm that candidates possess the minimum requirements, qualifications, and time commitment to serve in an executive capacity for the Fraternity. The HRC Chair serves as a liaison to the NTs but does not participate in their process.
The NTs are selected by the outgoing committee of NTs. Following each Convention, the current NTs send out a call for candidates. Candidates must submit an application form to the current NTs, including a personal statement and listing of references. The selected representatives from the Past International Presidents and the Rituals, Traditions, and Jewelry Committee must also submit the application for consideration. The Nominating Trustees then review the applications and conduct reference checks on all applicants. They will select a representative from each category of members, confirm their willingness to serve, and announce the new committee.
XB Candidate Application
The candidate must complete and submit the application form, a 3-page maximum professional resume, and a professional headshot to the NTs. All applications must be received before December 1st of the year prior to International Convention without exception.
The candidate must meet general qualifications to run for a position including: education, time commitment and travel, knowledge of the Governing Documents and Ritual Principles, ability to strategize and develop goals, ability to create community and positive working relationships, and financial stewardship abilities.
The application also includes questions regarding specific positions and a 400-word maximum essay detailing why the candidate is interested in serving on the Executive Board. The candidate must provide information relevant to their AOII, professional, and community/volunteer experience. Finally, the candidate will include a summary statement detailing their future vision of AOII including her goals and personal qualities.
XB Candidate Interview and Reference Check Process
In addition to the written application, candidates must complete an interview process. The interview questions address three areas: background, skills, abilities & talents; connections and networks; and passion for AOII. The background and talents portion of the interview focuses on the candidate’s ability to commit to the position and past experiences that aid in the preparation to serve on the Executive Board. The connections and networks portion of the interview focuses on the candidate’s already existing connections and personal network within both AOII and NPC that might further benefit the Fraternity. The passion for AOII portion focuses on gauging the candidate’s passion for the organization as well as her fit for the role.
Candidates also provide references who can speak to their qualifications. The NTs contact and also interview these references for information to support the candidate’s application. The NTs may also seek references from additional members with whom the candidate has served.
Once the NTs finish reviewing and interviewing candidates and checking references, those that meet the requirements to serve on the Executive Board are included on a ballot. The ballot is presented to Council eight weeks in advance of International Convention as required by the Governing Documents.
The Executive Board published a Policy Manual in October 2019 which can be found on Fulfilling the Promise. The Policy Manual outlines four major categories of policies: Ends, Governance Process, Executive Limitations, and Board-Management Delegation. Under the Governance Process section, Policy GP-13* documents the Board’s responsibility for succession planning of board members. The policy states that the Board will identify the needs of the Board to govern well and maintain a matrix of current board members’ competencies and profiles related to those needs. The Board will then identify candidates with competencies that can fill any existing gaps, as well as to solicit candidates with characteristics needed to govern. The policy includes a list of 11 characteristics relevant to the needs of the Board.
*This document is only available to members of AOII through Fulfilling the Promise. Upon clicking the link members may be prompted to log in to AlphaLink and will then have to navigate to Fulfilling the Promise / AOFiles / Policy Governance / Executive Board Policy Manual.
Leader Cultivation and Election Best Practices under Carver Governance
Under Carver Governance, key attributes of board members range from team skills to organizational vision. This differs from an operational model, where board members are expected to have skills in areas that would assist in management of the organization. The Task Force reviewed documentation on the Carver Governance model, provided by Joe Inskeep, for best practices for board member selection. Mr. Inskeep serves as a consultant for “The Governance Coach” and has advised the Fraternity during the transition to policy governance.
In the guide “Candidates and Criteria – Looking for the Best Fit” Jannice Moore starts by reviewing the job of a governance board. She states the three crucial components are:
- “Forging and maintaining a connection with the people on whose behalf the board governs – the “owners” or shareholders.
- Developing broad policy that sets direction for the organization and assures organizational performance.
- Monitoring the CEO to ensure that the policies have been followed – that the organizational results are being achieved, and that imprudent or unethical situations are not occurring.”
These three components work within the governance model that AOII is pursuing, as the Executive Board is tasked with member connectivity, determining the Ends for the organization, as well as determining/monitoring any executive limitations.
Given the roles of a governance board, the desired attributes for board member candidates are identified. The attributes discussed by Jannice Moore to be considered include:
- Ability to connect with the membership to understand what the organization should deliver for its beneficiaries
- Ability to develop policy that sets organizational direction
- Ability to monitor compliance with policy
- Clearly understanding the role of a governance board
- Ability to work well as a team member, articulate ideas, and achieve consensus with other board members
- Passion and commitment for the organization’s mission
The current KSAs that AOII utilizes are focused on operational skills related to management of the organization, such as legal and communication skills. These attributions under policy governance focus more on the performance and direction of the organization.
Under policy governance, an organization has the ability to expand this list of attributes, and the board must articulate the attributes in a board succession policy. The organization may also consider the mix of individual characteristics. In “Board Recruitment – By Design or Default” Jannice Moore writes about Diversity of the Board Composition:
“The characteristics noted in this article do not constitute an exhaustive list but include some of the key criteria to consider when recruiting board members. In addition to the individual characteristics, boards also need to consider the total mix. Is the combination of people that collectively make up the board diverse enough to provide a range of perspectives and the depth of experience necessary for the board to do its job well? Are new members expected to bring complementary skills, experiences and thinking to the board mix? It is important to avoid adding a token member of any particular group. Rather, add diverse people to round out the fullness of the board’s ability to govern on behalf of all the owners.”
Taking all the attributes and succession plans together, Richard Stringham in “Does your electorate have the information it needs to select the best candidates?” recommends the following set of steps and ownership of the tasks:
- Determine Desirable Attributes: The board articulates in a board succession policy the attributes desired in board members.
- Attract the Right Candidates: The board ensures (usually in policy) that whoever is responsible for recruiting board candidates understands that their role is to attract candidates who have appropriate attributes.
- Advise the Electorate: If board members are elected, the electorate is advised of the attributes that the board is seeking. Candidates are invited to provide information that demonstrates how they align with the attributes the board seeks. As an example, candidates are asked to respond in writing to a series of questions based upon the attributes stated in the board’s succession policy.
- Publish Educational Q and A: The candidates’ questions and responses are published and readily accessible for the electorate.
- Advise Appointing Authority: If board members are appointed by someone other than the board, the board advises the appointing authority with regards to the attributes it seeks. If the board has any ability to screen, recommend, or prioritize candidates, it does so on the basis of the desired attributes.
AOII currently utilizes a succession planning model, where the Executive Board identifies potential candidates, in both short- and long-term planning. They publish the attributes they are seeking in the Position Description. Candidates’ questions and responses are published for membership, in a variety of different methods over the years.
NPC Governance Practices
Per NPC survey data, 14 of the 26 NPC member groups identify as following a governance model. However, they follow governance in a variety of different methods, and do not all utilize policy governance. The Task Force conducted phone interviews with the Executive Directors of the eight groups available to share information with us. While all these groups interpret governance differently, they employ many of the best practices noted in the policy governance documentation. Note that when the number of groups are referenced, they are referring to the number of groups interviewed.
Nominating and Leader Cultivation
Three of the groups interviewed utilize a Leadership Development Committee (LDC) to assist with cultivation of volunteers. In these cases, the LDC tracks immediate and long-term interests of volunteers, and advises them on building skills that would assist them in serving in volunteer roles. In these organizations, the LDC also serves as the nominating committee that slates the Executive Board.
For those groups that do not utilize a LDC, the size and composition of their nominating group varies. One group utilized a regional model, with representation from each of their regions, while the remaining groups are open to any members with varying sizes of their committee. Two of these groups also include collegiate members on their committee. Groups were split between having Council voting on the members and having the group selected by either the previous nominating group or the Executive Board. No other groups have specific delegates on their nominating committee from segments of their membership (such as PIP, RT&J, CA, AP, etc.).
Position Description and Requirements
None of the groups interviewed utilize KSAs for their Executive Board Position Description. The Task Force reviewed Position Descriptions of five NPC organizations. They use quantitative factors as qualifications, such as travel, time commitment, and previous Fraternity experience as to assess eligibility. Three of the groups interviewed require previous Fraternity volunteer experience. For those who do not, they noted that, while it is possible to get elected without Fraternity experience, it has not been prevalent.
The election process starts in late Fall for most groups, when the application process opens. Two groups note that they start interviewing candidates as application materials are received, to better manage time rather than waiting to schedule interviews once the deadline has passed. Groups interview candidates via phone or Skype. Most use a standard set of questions to ask each candidate.
Seven groups utilize a slate where there is the same number of candidates as positions to be filled. Five groups do not use an intermediary stage, where they announce the qualified candidates – they tend to go from the entire pool, to the final slate.
Slates are announced on the groups’ websites and through email correspondence. One group also announces the initial applicants through their website at the time of application. This was noted as to open communication for candidates that seek election to the Board.
After the initial slate is announced, six groups allow running from the floor; however, the candidate must declare their intent by a deadline prior to Convention and they had to have gone through the initial application process.
All groups elect their XB using in-person Council attendance at Convention, except for one that elects in the Spring prior using mail-in ballot. The voting bodies for all groups include the Collegiate and Alumnae Chapter Presidents, however some do not include network volunteers. AOII is the only group that includes Collegiate Chapter Advisers in the voting body. One group noted that their collegiate chapter vote will always constitute 51% of the vote, and alumnae count as 49% regardless of the number in attendance.
Having reviewed the existing process and best practices, we make the following recommendations:
Position Description and KSAs
- We recommend keeping quantitative qualifications, as they are stated in the current Position Description. Qualifications such as Foundation giving, alumnae chapter membership, and years of alumnae status are easily accessible. These quantitative qualifications would then be supplemented with the Ends and attributes from the governance criteria.
- We recommend removing the operational factors from the “Desired Knowledge, Skills and Abilities for Executive Board Candidates”. While Policy Governance provides for board members to bring professional and personal abilities to the board table, many of these skills reference tasks performed by our professional staff.
- See “Candidates and Criteria – Looking for the Best Fit” by Jannice Moore for reference on instead including attributes for Policy Governance.
- We recommend working with the Director of Talent and Culture so the job description is consistent with other volunteer job descriptions.
Selection and Composition
- We recommend that potential NTs complete a volunteer application form and complete an interview.
- Candidate evaluation should use a rubric and consistent set of questions.
- We recommend that the outgoing NTs conduct interviews and review applications and make a recommendation for appointments to HRC or a Neutral Body of Volunteers (ex. Outgoing XB members). The recommendation will be reviewed, and incoming NTs will be selected by HRC or a neutral body of volunteers (ex. Outgoing XB members).
- This follows our current process for volunteer appointments where supervisors make a recommendation and another body votes on the final appointment decision.
- We recommend the following qualifications and composition for the NTs:
- Must be members in good standing (either collegians or alumnae).
- Current or previous experience on council required, but no specific representation is required.
- Number of members – five, an odd number for voting purposes.
- Terms should be consistent with other volunteer appointments, two-year terms, with three terms max.
- At the conclusion of each election cycle, the outgoing NTs will document strengths and weaknesses of the process and general trends of the candidate pool. Recommendations will be submitted to HRC for review and the HRC chair or her designee will share with the incoming NT group.
- NTs will evaluate XB candidates against the Position Description. Candidate cultivation will not be part of their responsibilities to allow them to be impartial. They should work in partnership with HRC when conducting outreach to potential applicants for the XB.
- All XB candidates should participate in an interview using a rubric and consistent set of interview questions.
- All XB candidate interviews should be via Zoom or other video technology.
- NTs should still conduct reference checks, following HR best practices.
- To maintain the collaboration between HRC and the NTs, the liaison role should be maintained. However, we recommend allowing flexibility for the HRC chair to serve in the role herself or designate an alternate.
- HRC and the Director of Talent and Culture should develop the operational aspects of the nomination and election process.
- NTs and XB candidates should have a more in-depth education piece on Policy Governance. NT training should occur within one month of selection to the NT Committee. All XB candidates should receive training within one month of moving forward in the election process. Members of Council should also continue to receive basic education on Policy Governance through the Fraternities communication channels.
Convention and Elections
- We recommend that the new XB candidates should be elected at the beginning of the first business session. In accordance with our standard process for volunteer appointments, election results should be shared privately with candidates before the last business session. Winners should be announced publicly, at the end of the last business session, as we currently do.
- XB candidates need to be evaluated substantively. The “Meet the Candidates” session should be replaced by a flipbook of both written and audio answers to in depth questions posed to candidates.
- Any candidate materials should continue to be shared well in advance of Convention so all parties have access to candidate information and can discuss with their constituents in advance of Convention.
- There should be a separate education track for XB candidates at Convention. These sessions would happen concurrently with other education sessions and would cover general onboarding for future XB candidates.
Timeline for Implementation
- Any changes to the Governing Documents related to the XB Elections would be implemented for 2023-2025 elections.
- All recommendations would be submitted by October 2020 for consideration at Convention 2021.
- For the upcoming 2021-2023 election process follow the process that is outlined in the Governing Documents.
- For all recommendations from the Task Force that do not require a change to the Governing Documents these changes could be implemented with the 2021-2023 election:
- Revised job descriptions would need to be documented with the NTs, XB, Director of Talent and Culture, and HRC to match the final recommendations of the Task Force.
- Policy Governance training for the 2021 – 2023 NTs by July, and all XB Candidates once they have moved forward in the election process.
- HRC and the Director of Talent and Culture assist the NTs in creating the operational processes for the election including the interview rubric and consistent interview questions.
- Create flipbook to communicate with AOII membership on the XB candidates that has a consistent format for all candidates including written and audio questions.
Submitted by the International Governance Practices, Review and Education Task Force:
Alpha Gamma Delta
- Interview with Katie Abernathy: November 20, 2019
- Alpha Gamma Delta Volunteer Agreement
- International Council Job Description
- Elections Committee Job Description
Alpha Delta Pi
- Interview with Amanda Sloan: November 22, 2019
- Grand Council Job Description
Delta Delta Delta
- Interview with Karen White: November 15, 2019
- Volunteer Position Description: Director, Fraternity President
- Volunteer Position Description: Director, Tri Delta Executive Board
Gamma Phi Beta
- Interview with Megan Wick: November 20, 2019
- Gamma Phi Beta Member Competencies at Highest Level of Service
Kappa Alpha Theta
- Interview with Betsy Corridan: November 15, 2019
- Interview with Darlene Reyes: November 15, 2019
Pi Beta Phi
- Interview with Caroline Backer: November 20, 2019
- Pi Beta Phi Grand President Job Description
- Pi Beta Phi Leadership and Nominating Committee Chair Job Description
- Pi Beta Phi Leadership and Nominating Committee Member Job Description
- Pi Beta Phi Organizational Structure
Sigma Sigma Sigma
- Interview with Lorin Phillips: November 21, 2019
Mercier, Rose. A Few Good Ideas. REALBoard Advisor. June 2014.
Moore, Jannice. Board Recruitment – By Design or Default?. REALBoard Advisor. June 2010.
Moore, Jannice. Candidates and Criteria – Looking for the Best Fit. REALBoard Advisor. June 2014.
Draft Board of Directors Policy, Nominating Committee Charter. Inskeep, Joseph.
Stringham, Richard. Recruiting Better Board Members. October 16, 2019.
Stringham, Richard. Does your electorate have the information it needs to select the best candidates?. REALBoard Advisor. June 2014.
- Nomination/Election Task Force. Task Force ~ Report & Recommendations. June 9, 2006.
- 2015 AOII Executive Board and Foundation Board Election Council Survey Results.
Nominating Trustees Materials
- Application for Nominating Trustee for 2020-2022
- Volunteer Position Description for Nominating Trustees, September 2019
- Executive Board Search Process Interview Template, July 2018
- Candidate Interview Questions, January 2011
- Candidate Reference Questions, 2011
- 2017-2019 Nominating Trustees Committee: Elections Timeline
- Nominations Timeline 2010-2011
Executive Board Materials
- 2019-2021 Executive Board Candidate Application Form
- Executive Board KSA Document, August 2018
- Interest Form 2010-2011
- Candidate Information Form 2010-2011
- Volunteer Position Description for 2011-2013 Executive Board
- Policy Manual, October 2019