Our Governance & Board of Trustees
2016- 2017 Board of Trustees
John Mulligan (President)
An Overview of WES Governance
Note: Governance Documents (e.g., Constitution, Bylaws) links are at the bottom of this page.
Like other ethical societies, the membership of WES has the highest level of authority within the organization. The membership makes significant decisions during all-member business meetings. To manage WES operations between membership meetings, several committees act on the membership’s behalf:
- The Board of Trustees conducts the business of the Society, much of it via delegation to the Senior Leader and through her to other paid staff1 and volunteers. See below for more details on how this delegation works in practice.
- The Lay Leadership Development Committee (LLDC) trains/supports lay leaders and nominates members for election to the Board
- The Community Relations Committee (CRC) is charged with fostering a congregation-wide culture of open, honest, and healthy communication about all topics.
- The Endowment Committee manages/invests our (currently nominal) endowment
The membership delegates to the Board the responsibility to work with and supervise the Senior Leader.
- Cognizant of the special role of clergy, the Board and Senior Leader work as equal partners in matters of visioning and planning.
- On the other hand, when it comes to oversight, evaluation, and salary/benefit conversations, the Board functions in a more supervisory role vis-à-vis the Senior Leader.
As noted above, the membership delegates to the Board and Amanda the responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the Society. In turn, the Board delegates much of that responsibility to the Senior Leader through policies it establishes – thus, it is “policy-based” governance.
- The Board retains responsibility for
- Its self-governance
- Engagement with its constituency, the membership
- Creation/maintenance of over-arching policies
- Cultivation of an effective relationship with the Senior Leader
- Visioning/planning in collaboration with the Leader(s) and others
- Assistance with fund-raising
- The Senior Leader is responsible for
- Visioning/planning in collaboration with any other Leader(s), the Board, and others
- The day-to-day affairs of the society, either directly or through delegation to others
- Creation/maintenance of operational policies
The Senior Leader serves as the linkage point between the Board and other paid staff and volunteers. This ensures clarity of organizational relationships. Most Board meetings are open to the membership, but meetings held to resolve grievances or address personnel matters are held in executive session.
The above provides a general framework of WES’s governance; the specifics are spelled out in WES’s governing documents themselves (see below). The documents still leave room for interpretation and for creative tension. Here are several examples:
- Some decisions, e.g. whether to pursue solar panels for the roof, fall within the Senior Leader’s purview, but are of sufficient significance to bring to the Board for input.
- Some decisions, e.g. whether to pursue a new capital campaign, may fall within the Board’s purview, but are of sufficient significance to bring to the full membership for input.
- When it comes to policy creation, there is a fuzzy boundary between what is “overarching” (and within the Board’s purview) and what is “operational” (and within the Senior Leader’s). Often it is necessary to work together to determine where the Board should give way to the Senior Leader regarding policy creation or operational discretion.
WES Governance Documents