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OPEG Affiliate Week: Rachel Holbert on Updating an Affiliate’s Code or Bylaws

My name is Rachel Holbert, and I am the Secretary of OPEG, the Ohio Program Evaluators’ Group. Our AEA affiliate organization began with a Code of Regulations in 1980. Over time, the Board revised the Code, and added policy statements a nearly identical set of Bylaws as governing documents. Updating this unwieldy mess began a few years ago but stalled; last year, the Board made it a priority.

Some changes include aligning the Code with activities that the Board actually carries out (for example, adding committees the Board had created but were not “official”); updating the Treasurer’s duties to include 21st century technology (such as handling electronic payments), and continuing to develop a more inclusive policy toward student members by introducing a Board seat reserved only for students.

Our effort took about nine months altogether, with three members providing most of the work and soliciting comments from the rest of the Board during regular meetings. Our last step was to submit the changes to a vote of the entire membership, which approved the changes this May.

Hot Tip: Check online for other organizations’ Bylaws for guidance. OPEG reviewed AEA’s and other Bylaws for good examples of both content and language.

Hot Tip: Consult with a lawyer or other professional if sticky issues arise. The previous version of our Code and Bylaws required that the Treasurer be bonded and that an annual fiscal audit occur (neither of which were currently being done). A one-hour consultation with a lawyer assured us these were not legally required; in addition, he notified us that the State of Ohio requires a Code of Regulations instead of Bylaws (the State of Delaware, for example, requires Bylaws).

Hot Tip: Are you registered as an organization with your Secretary of State’s office? The lawyer advised us that OPEG was no longer actively registered with the Ohio Secretary of State’s office. Apparently the Board had gone through the registration process in 1990, but failed to follow up and registration lapsed in 1995. We have remedied that and made it a requirement in the Code that the President periodically check to ensure OPEG is registered with the State.

Rad Resource: The AEA’s Bylaws are a good place to start if you’re considering writing or rewriting your organization’s Code. You can find them at http://www.eval.org/aboutus/bylaws.asp, along with its mission, vision, and values at http://www.eval.org/aboutus/organization/aboutus.asp. OPEG’s new Code can be found at http://opeg.org/?page_id=667.

Hot Tip: Registration for OPEG’s interactive and experiential October 13th Fall Workshop, Embracing Change through Evaluation, is now open at www.OPEG.org.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating the Ohio Program Evaluators’ Group (OPEG) Affiliate Week with our colleagues in the OPEG AEA Affiliate. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our OPEG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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