Policy Governance Week: Diving Into Policy Governance by Libby Smith, Karen Jackson, & Tom Kelly

Hello! We are Tom Kelly, Libby Smith, & Karen Jackson and we were all elected to the board last year and began our service in January. Our experiences this year have been beyond what we could have imagined and we can say that the board training that we received has helped us to get up to speed quickly. 

While our service officially started January 1, the process of learning about our role began shortly after learning that we were elected. In August 2019 we each received a copy of The Policy Governance Model & the Role of the Board Member. This 48-page manual gave us an overview of PG and provided a framework for understanding our role within the board and association. In September, we had a 90 minute orientation with the presidential rotation and the Executive Director to see how the concepts we learned in the policy manual were enacted within AEA. This was the first time I (Libby) really understood how our association operates. That being said, there was so much more to learn!

The three of us, along with President-elect Tom Grayson and incoming Treasurer Felicia Bohanon participated in our first board meeting at the annual conference in Minneapolis. Our week began early Monday morning where we had an additional half day orientation, then about two full days worth of board meetings. While we were non-voting members, I think that I can speak for all three of us in saying that we each felt like full participants in that first meeting because we had been so well prepared. 

We share this all as a reflection on the evolution of the board. We were the first cohort to receive this extensive training to prepare us for board service under PG. 

Here are some of our Lessons Learned:

Karen: Remaining focused on the AEA ends goals while simultaneously monitoring the AEA’s performance is time intensive and just plain challenging. As a PG board we are brought together to think about the members of the association and our capacity for serving them. However, like any practice steeped in theory, PG is most useful when thoughtfully and carefully applied equitably and in context. In my time on the board, I have found that PG principles provide guidance on how to lead the organization in a manner that encourages us to judge fairly, be disciplined, assess risks, and build trust.

Tom: I experienced the PG and Govern for Impact training as familiar and very aligned with our work as evaluators. Defining ends policies in terms of “(a) the results, changes, or benefits that should come about for (b) specified recipients, beneficiaries, or other targeted groups, and (c) at what cost or relative priority for the various benefits or various beneficiaries” is one of the critical ways we engage evaluation stakeholders. This keeps the board focused on the results, policies, and principles and supporting staff to operationalize these in ways that support all members to engage, participate and be the AEA collectively. 

This week, AEA365 is celebrating Policy Governance during which our AEA Board members and Executive Director will help readers understand this approach to association management. 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.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.