It’s that time of year again! That’s right: It’s election season for our board of directors. Time to contemplate the future of the 107 Independent Supporters Trust and everyone’s individual involvement in it. The intent of this post is to summarize what we, as a board, both collectively and individually, feel we may need moving forward. If any of this speaks to you personally, or if you feel you have other skills that are applicable to accomplishing our mission, we invite you to run.
Two of three board members up for election are not running. Please join us in thanking both Mike and Lexi for their terms of service to the 107ist. Neither plans to disappear, by any means. They will both continue in different capacities that better align with where they are in their lives. As the board member in charge of TA tifo, Mike has done a great job of making sure there is a quality leadership team in place. As secretary, comms, and tech, Lexi’s current role is a different one to try to fill and likely won’t be the work of one person. Having someone with strong, applicable skills is important to the org. There is the possibility of separating the secretary position into an appointed one, similar to what we’ve done with the treasurer, but that’s a long-term discussion. Ultimately, the new board will work together to organize roles as best we can once we know who the new members are.
One question asked every year by Josh Barrett, long-time member and part of the 107IST Legal team, is whether we a working board or a strategic board. The answer has long been: We’re a bit of both, with a stronger emphasis on the working side. As a board, we feel this is at more of a tipping point than it has been in the past as we take on some broader goals and have matured more as an organization.
A ton’s been going on outside the stadium over this past year, too. For one, we have successfully negotiated the extension of our leases for the warehouse (five years) and the Fanladen (three years). While this gives us a little grace period to plan long-term facilities solutions, it’s not time to rest on our laurels by any means. We’re talking millions of dollars here, and we need to do this right. We have recently gone through the process of hiring professional bookkeeper services with a nonprofit focus that will take a bit of the the workload off the treasurer and provide further legitimacy as we pursue the capital campaign.
Over this past year especially, we’ve changed and grown organizationally. A good formula for success has long been to come out of a specific area of the organization to take on a leadership role in that area. In several key areas, there are now highly effective leaders that are not on the board. While there is still strong communication with the board on key issues, the board doesn’t need to provide direct oversight over minutiae. Of note, this in no way excludes any of the people in those areas from running to better perform that functional link.
We’ve been talking to a lot of members who’ve been thinking about running. As always, there’s a lot of hesitation from members who we, as a board, feel would be great contributors. Many know and respect the amount of work it is to be on the board, but are intimidated by the added workload and/or by the effort it takes to run. We all know, intimately, the process of running and can understand people’s reservations. Know this: No one knows everything about every facet of the organization. Go with what you know. Go with what you can bring to the table. That is what people want to see.
With the direction we’re growing, having someone with experience working with nonprofits — and strong bonus points for large capital campaigning experience — is a big need for us, as it’s starting to permeate many facets of our focus. Similarly, we could use someone with a solid project management background. If that’s you, really think about it.
As supporters culture is so close to who we are, we know many long-time members that have been taking more of a back seat for myriad reasons. Maybe family or work life took over; maybe other passions drew you in. Now maybe you’re in a better place to reassess your involvement. Could be the kids are finally out of the house. Maybe you’re settled into your job after finishing school or on an extended sabbatical. Maybe you’re retired and are getting bored with your bucket list and want to stay sharp on your game (you know about the studies). Our culture is a living breathing thing and it should be a struggle to keep it going. It’s a big part of what we do. Not saying it needs to be the old man at the end of the bar or someone who beat pickle buckets, but connections to our past as we move into the future will continually be valued.
One important role of the 107ist board are our deliberations. It can be tough sometimes, and friendships have been damaged over the years (temporarily, anyway). When called on to do so, the board has done a really good job of keeping the debate scholarly and putting the real work into finding the best solution. Some of the best qualities for this are the ability to be thoughtful, rational, and process-oriented. The board doesn’t deliberate in a vacuum, even if it may seem like that from some points of view. This is another area where someone with nonprofit experience could be valuable. Same with cultural experience.
Running for the board isn’t really about winning. It’s about willingness. It’s about being an active participant as we define who we are and what direction we should go. Think back on any of the other 107ist elections you can remember. How different were the priorities each year? It has a huge impact and carries directly into the Annual General Meeting. The more candidates we have, the better that dialogue can be. That said, if elected you will be expected to work, be responsive, and follow through.
Look, there’s no one perfect candidate (well, maybe there is but they’re not running … we asked). Any of you introspectively trying to tick all the boxes, just stop trying. The best way to halt a candidacy is to start making stuff up about stuff you don’t know. We all ask questions. None of us are alone in this. It’s the value of all our combined strengths as an org, well beyond the board, that makes us the force that we are. If you got what it takes, step on up and let’s do this.