Board Blogs: Building the Board of the Future

The Board of Directors of Washington Women’s Foundation will be welcoming five new members in January! Our new directors will position us well as we accelerate the implementation of our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion work and our Strategic Framework 2020.

This year, the Governance Committee expended significant time and thought to ensure that our Board recruiting and nomination process was more inclusive and transparent to all our members.  In the spirit of greater transparency, we wanted to share this overview of our process with our full community.

First, the Governance Committee reviewed Board roles and responsibilities in light of our commitment to building a strong and inclusive collective of informed women who together influence community transformation. We looked at the behaviors and commitments we expect of Board members to help us become a true multicultural organization. This includes, but is not limited to, building relationships internally and externally, elevating and amplifying the power of all who identify as women, sharing power, advancing equity and being in community both within the foundation and the broader community.  We also looked at skill and experience gaps on the current Board that we needed to fill to execute the responsibilities of the Board while representing as many perspectives as possible.

From that discussion, the Governance Committee created a new Statement of Interest, which candidates were asked to complete, and we refreshed our “interview” process to have structured, consistent conversations with each candidate. We then put out an open invitation to all members of the Foundation for the nomination of candidates.  We received more nominations, including self-nominations, than we could bring on to the Board in a single year. 

Members of the Governance Committee conducted one-on-one interviews with each candidate over the course of the summer and provided feedback to the full Committee. The Committee then assessed the feedback and came to a consensus on which candidates to invite to stand for election this fall.  That impressive group of five women is the slate that was sent out to the full membership at the end of September and was voted upon at our Annual Meeting this week.  The Governance Committee believes that together, these women round out our Board with the needed skills, perspectives, and capabilities that will allow us to carry out our governance responsibilities.

The candidates who were not put forward on this year’s slate were an incredibly impressive group, and we are deeply appreciative to them for participating in our process.  At least one Committee member had a meaningful conversation with each candidate and explored expanded ways for them to contribute to the work of the Foundation.  If Washington Women’s Foundation is to be a truly strong and inclusive collective of informed women, then we do need more members to step forward, year after year, in this way.

In addition to updating our recruiting and nomination process, the Governance Committee also is trying to improve our onboard and orientation process for new Board members.  With the Board engaging deeply in DEI training and working to execute our Strategic Framework 2020, we are asking our new Board members to join us in DEI work, build strong relationships with other Board members, staff, Committee leaders and members of our Foundation, and find specific ways to engage in the leadership of Washington Women’s Foundation.

This new process is just a start. As a learning organization, we are committed to adapting and evolving over time.  We anticipate additional adjustments to the process and hope to build on this foundation in future years.

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