Policy Governance Week: Through the Executive Director’s Lens by Anisha Lewis

Hello, I’m Anisha Lewis, the Executive Director for AEA. So, what does Policy Governance look like from the Executive Director’s perspective? I see this governing structure as an opportunity to have collective rather than individual decisions that include diverse viewpoints.  Governance is a function of ownership, not management. Therefore, the viewpoints of members are crucial when making critical decisions.

Policy governance is considered a revolutionary approach to organizational management. Under this structure, the Executive Director and Board of Directors collaborate to focus on Ends and Means, through board approved policies called Executive Limitations.

The “ends” are the results that the board expects, in accordance with the association’s “Ends Policies.” This is one way in which the board provides strategic leadership, by stating what is to be accomplished, for whom, and with what worth, cost or priority.

The means, also known as the governance process, are policies that outline how the board directs the Executive Director to achieve the “ends”. The means are safeguarded through Executive Limitations, which are policies that define what methods cannot be used to achieve results.

In order for this governance process to be successful, the Executive Director must have a tremendous amount of respect for the owners (members) of the association, and in turn, the board and membership must have trust in the executive director to operate within the approved executive limitations.

Under Policy Governance, there is a clear distinction of board and executive director roles, and a keen focus on strategic leadership over administrative detail. My work with the AEA Board is very collaborative, and is based on trust, accountability and good communication. Good governance requires accountability, which ensures that the organization outlines the duties that they expect individuals in each role to perform. The board is responsible for oversight, financial issues, risk management, strategic planning and issues related to people and programs. As executive director, I am largely responsible for implementing the board’s plans and managing the daily operations of the organization. Together, we perform our duties collaboratively to ensure that we work in ways that ensure legal and ethical integrity, and the trust of our members.

This responsibility requires all board members to perform their board duties in ways that ensure legal and ethical integrity and ensures member trust. We work through a common lens of ensuring that the operations of the AEA stay aligned with the mission, vision and values of the organization.  This is our recipe for good governance; as we continue to identify ways to improve member engagement, diversity and inclusion.

Here are some Rad Resources for getting up to speed on Policy Governance within AEA:

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.

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