There are many things to like in the new governance plan, which you can read about here. I’ll highlight two of them. First, it will free up Regional Directors to focus on the local chapter and member issues in their regions. Currently, RDs are the only national board members with two jobs, supporting chapters and SPJ members in their region on the one hand, while participating in all of the full national board meetings. That’s a heavy burden that prevents them from giving their all to the members of the region.
But the big idea that sparked this debate early last year was the critical need for more long-term strategic thinking. Indeed, I told the January Executive Committee meeting — which included all of the SPJ officers and some committee chairs — that I believed it was detrimental to the society not to have a three- to five-year strategic plan. The sheer size of the board, with 23 members, is what’s holding us back. Full-day board meetings can include tangents that have nothing to do with long-term strategy. Yet the best brainstorming often gets done in groups the size of a good dinner party — and nine board members strikes me as an ideal number.
The national board has traveled a long road to reach this point. We’ve been intensely debating the restructuring plan for a year and a half. We’ve shot down some ideas while endorsing others. Many of us (including your’s truly) participated in focus groups to hone the proposal. In the end, we overwhelmingly approved the plan that delegates will vote on in Anaheim. Although the delegates may want to debate aspects of this complex proposal at the convention, I now believe the plan to be completely sound and extremely well thought out.