Last year, the American Association of Neuroscience Nurses successfully completed one of the most sensitive governance initiatives an association can undertake: It updated its board election process from a competitive election to a fully appointed slate. The transition took about six years and involved several steps, but according to AANN Executive Director Leah Zamora, CAE, it was worth it. The goal was to look at the board strategically, get the right people at the table, and move the organization forward.
Legacy election processes often result in a board that doesn’t fully reflect the organization’s many stakeholders. According to new DEI research developed by Trifecta Research Group for the ASAE Research Foundation, the vast majority of board members are white males between the ages of 30 and 59.
In addition, in many organizations, people are required to move up through the volunteer ranks before obtaining a board seat. This often leads to a board populated with members who are at the same point in their career and who have served the organization for a long time, but who are not necessarily representative of the membership.
“How do we get representation of the membership with a person who maybe doesn’t see themselves on a board but is a voice we need in that board seat? If we’re doing a competitive election, that’s never going to happen,” Zamora said.
For example, a nurse who lives in a small town and works at the community hospital is a much better representation of AANN’s membership. The association’s shift to a fully appointed slate has provided an opportunity for candidates who could never beat out a big name from a larger institution.