Forward Together envisions a diverse, responsive, and inclusive Board of Directors. Currently only four members of the Executive Board are directly elected by the full membership: the president, president elect, immediate past president, and treasurer. In Forward Together, the majority of board members, twelve, will be directly elected by the membership, and an additional five positions will be appointed by the Board of Directors with the help of the Nominating Committee and Leadership Development Committee. These appointments will be made to ensure a diverse and inclusive board that incorporates skills, library types, and backgrounds not represented by elected members. The Board of Directors will continue to receive funding from the association for Board-related activities, including travel to meetings and conferences, reducing economic barriers to participation. Direct election of the majority of Board members places accountability of elected leaders of the association in the hands of the many, rather than the current multi-step process that results in less than 200 members selecting the majority of the Executive Board. The current multi-step process includes the election of eight at-large Executive Board members by and from ALA Council, some of whom were elected by the full membership, some by round table membership, some by division membership, and some by chapter membership. A single governing body with direct accountability to members as is proposed in the Board of Directors will enable Board members to take a larger view of the association rather than represent and promote the interests of one particular area.
Accountability is paramount to the role of the Board of Directors. Members of the Board are accountable to the association’s membership, regardless of whether they have been elected or voted onto the Board. This accountability to members requires Board members to listen to and create action on behalf of members and be able to articulate and explain their actions to members for transparency and trust.
This accountability and trust is also represented in the proposed name change from “Executive Board” to “Board of Directors.” The name change is intended to reset expectations of the Board. The Board of Directors as envisioned here is accountable directly to the membership and will receive critical, ongoing input from general members and assemblies of leaders. Moreover, the name change denotes the Board’s existing and increased accountability for legal, financial, and administrative responsibilities and direction given to the ALA executive director, whom the board is responsible for hiring. The new name also further distinguishes the Board of Directors from the Executive Committee, a five member subgroup of the Boardmade up of the ALA president, president elect, immediate past president, treasurer, and executive director.
Each Board member, as they do now, will have a direct liaison responsibility with a committee of the Board, leadership assembly, and area of the association (offices, divisions, round tables, etc.). These liaison roles are intended to provide direct input to the Board of Directors, and communication will be regular and timely. Board members will not only report out to their designated groups, they will bring back suggestions, requests, and expertise to inform and influence Board decisions. These two way relationships are intended to not only improve communication between the Board of Directors, member leaders, and members, but also to encourage accountability and allow for larger numbers of members to voice their support or opposition to association policy, legislative issues, and more.