StreamLink Software and BoardSource are teaming up to present a multi-part blog series entitled a 360 Degree View from the Board.
“Some aspects of board service are constant. Each player in the boardroom, whether it’s the board chair, board member, or chief executive, has a role to fulfill and a set of expectations to meet. Other aspects change with the times. Committee structures change, processes are refined, and strategic plans help both board and staff members refocus organizational direction and work toward greater impact. In recent years, the rise of smartphones and other technology have created a culture accustomed to having any and all data within reach at all times. Have these technological developments changed the way that nonprofit boards interact during and between meetings? Are boards doing all they can to use technological tools to maximize efficiency and focus on exceptional governance?”
Danielle M. Henry
Communications Coordinator, BoardSource
Part Five: A View from an Executive Vice President
The following questions were presented to Michael Weamer, Executive Vice President of the American Heart Association.
What role-specific activities do you have to do in order to prepare for a board meeting, and what is the level of time and effort required?
I look at board preparation like producing a Broadway play. Once the meeting kicks off, ideally I say very little and can just watch all the preparation help drive a very successful meeting. I spend most of my time making sure that we have a highly interactive meeting that focuses on “Mission at Heart” and the “Business of the Business.” I also make certain that we have social opportunities planned and the experience around the meeting is as positive as the meeting itself. Key to success is also working with your Chairman to make certain you are on the same page, there are no surprises and you plan for potential difficulties that may occur.
What’s the biggest challenge in your role as it relates to the board?
My biggest challenge is making certain that I have the absolute best volunteer talent that money can’t buy! I am constantly looking for future directors and officers as having a strong succession plan is critical. I am still a fan of a larger board as long as the members are productive so I also probably have more politics in play than smaller boards.
In what area do you see the most need for process improvement?
I guess what I struggle with most is having board members well informed about all aspects of mission. American Heart Association is a very complicated, large organization and we often do not have the time to fully educate our Directors and this becomes evident when we consider mission related opportunities.
How has technology changed the way you conduct board business?
Absolutely, we use board management software and have virtually gone paperless over the past several years. We also have far less need for storage. And we no longer have to create an endless number of spreadsheets to help in decision making and performance monitoring.
Image Source: Michigan Municipal League
About Michael Weamer
Michael serves as Executive Vice President of the American Heart Association – Founders Affiliate (Northeast Region). Michael has dedicated his career to work with nonprofit organizations. Before joining the AHA, he was president of the National Society to Prevent Blindness and an executive director with the National Easter Seal Society.
Michael and his wife Karen live in Connecticut. They have four children (Mollie, Caitlin, Sean and Daniel), a grandson (Max) and a dog (Jackson). Michael holds a BS in Community Development and Broadcasting from Pennsylvania State University.
Read the Other Interviews in the Series:
Learn strategies to better engage your board in our free ebook, Maximizing Board Engagement and Effectiveness.