OPEG Affiliate Week: Brenda Peters on Structure for an Effective Board

I am Brenda Peters and I am a volunteer Member at Large on the board of the Ohio Program Evaluators’ Group (OPEG). Working with our fabulous board to support colleagues in the region is rewarding, even when tasks seem challenging.

In case others might be thinking of trying to assemble or reinvigorate a regional association for evaluators or other type of organization, I thought I’d share some aspects of OPEG’s Board structure that have contributed to our longevity.

Hot Tip: Goldilocks had the right idea. When it comes to the size of the board, get it just right. If the board is too small they may be overwhelmed by the work or seem like a closed clique. If it is too large, getting anyone to take responsibility – even show up for a quorum – may be difficult. OPEG’s board has eleven members – President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Student Board Member, and six Members at Large. It is small enough to know one another and get a voting quorum, yet large enough to include a variety of perspectives and experience.

Hot Tip:  Watch the commitment. Appointments for life are a recipe for stagnation. Having to recruit eleven new board members every year would kill the organization quickly. OPEG’s solution is staggered terms. Two consecutive elected terms may be served. In odd-numbered years the President, Vice President, and three Members at Large positions are elected, while in even-numbered years the Secretary, Treasurer, and the other three Members at Large are elected. This reduces recruitment burden, maintains operational stability, and gives new members time to acclimate. The Student Board Member one-year term decreases intimidation and accommodates a student’s schedule.

Hot Tip:  Runners-up are valuable. Don’t forget about candidates who ‘lost’ the election after votes are tallied. They had the interest to run in the first place so they are ideal committee members. In addition, sometimes a board member must resign and having runners-up available to step in saves a lot of hassle.

Hot Tip:  Break the tie. Most board decisions are relatively easy to work through but occasionally an issue results in a deadlock. Having an odd number of board members means that a majority decision is more likely.

Hot Tip:  Spread the joy. Keep any one board member from bearing – or grabbing – too much responsibility. OPEG’s President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer all have specific tasks traditionally linked with those positions. After the election OPEG’s Members at Large distribute other jobs amongst themselves: Program Co-Chair, Election Chair, Awards Chair, Newsletter Chair, Membership Chair, and ad hoc activities.

Rad Resource: Check out OPEG’s Code of Regulations  (http://opeg.org/?page_id=667) to see other structural aspects of OPEG’s operations.

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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