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Guidelines for Effective Board Membership

Approved January 23, 2018

Board Member Participation

  1. Board members are expected to participate in all five regularly scheduled meetings of the full Board of Directors each year. Members who are unable to attend in person may participate online or by phone using instructions included with each agenda. Board members who miss more than two meetings in a year may be asked to yield their seats to others.
  2. Each board member will serve one or more of ELA’s standing committees. Standing committees include Conference, Education, Finance, Membership, Outreach, Publications, and Trustees.
  3. New members are encouraged to review documents important to the organization, which include ELA’s mission statement, vision statement, strategic plan, and bylaws, and to reach out to the Executive Director and other board members with questions.
  4. Board members who identify potential conflicts of interest will notify the board of the conflict and will remove themselves from the discussions or votes in question. Whatever advantages board membership may confer, Board Members’ duty in that role is to advance the good of the organization ahead of their own.
  5. It is important to maintain communications between meetings. Members should read and respond promptly to emails whose subject lines include the words “Action Required.”
  6. Board members accept their positions believing they can fulfill the commitments; however, circumstances sometimes change. Know the limits of your participation and communicate them to the Executive Director. If you are not able to participate at the level you had expected, there is no shame in cycling off the board until circumstances improve.

Board Meetings

  1. Out of respect for everyone’s time, meetings will begin promptly at scheduled times. Board members are encouraged to arrive early.
  2. Your full participation is vital – if you can’t attend a meeting in person, you are encouraged to use remote participation options. If you cannot participate, or if you expect to arrive late, please notify the executive director as soon as possible.
  3. To keep meetings focused on issues that require the full board’s attention, the board may refer exploratory, logistical, and sensitive discussions to committees or breakout groups.
  4. Agendas and associated documents will generally be distributed by email before meetings. Please review these documents before the meeting begins, and feel free to ask questions at any time. ELA does not distribute hard copies of most documents, but board members may print copies for their own reference.
  5. Board members will communicate respectfully, positively, and professionally – especially when disagreeing.
  6. ELA’s board and some of its committees follow Robert’s Rules of Order; other committees work more informally.
  7. Electronic devices can be useful during meetings, but should not become distracting.