Number of National Officers: Proposal Three

THESE PROPOSALS ARE TO DISCUSS CONCEPTS ONLY.  ACTUAL LANGUAGE WILL BE DRAFTED AT A LATER TIME.

Watch the webinar recording for Number of National Officers and Size & Election of National Board.  

We encourage you to use the PowerPoint presented at the webinar and the Structure Modernization Discussion Guide to help facilitate conversations in your networks.  


 Officers are paid for travel only, hire Executive Director to run National Action Center:

  • One executive salary only
  • Professional staff with experience to run the NAC
  • Officers can travel to assist states and chapters with organizing

Pros:

  • ED can be consistent “face” of organization in DC; build and strengthen relationships
  • ED would have the skill set needed to manage a non-profit
  • ED would be hired and fired by NOW President

Cons:

  • Potential conflict between Officers & ED
  • Need a strong Board, strong Officers to support the work of an ED
  • Decrease the perception that NOW is a grassroots organization
  • Less grassroots input into day-to-day operations and decision-making

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5. Be creative and don’t be afraid to say what you think! It is vital that you share your opinions — in order to create the best proposals possible we need to know what all of the members think! This site is for YOU to have your voices heard.

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25 thoughts on “Number of National Officers: Proposal Three

  1. I like the paid staff running the organization’s activities and the elected Officers overseeing them.

    I noticed that five employees are classified as non-exempt. From my 15 years HR management experience, a Field Organizer is an exempt position. Depending on the salary and the % of time doing press coordination, the President Assistant/ Press Coordinator could be exempt as well. The Accounting Associate is usually non-exempt but their duties need to be analyzed since there is no actual CFO position. If this staff member is doing non-supervised professional work than the job could potentially be exempt. It should be looked at.

    I also believe the the Membership System Director and the Network Administrator should be merged. The IT person should be able to run reports and manage a database on the server. The Membership Associate position and the unfilled Communication Associate could be merged to create an e-Marketing position which is exempt. I would like to see the entire organization including every chapter in the nation use Office 365. This will reduce the amount of work for the Network Admin and help use keep in close contact with each other.

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  2. I like this proposal. It runs more like a company with the daily activities being performed by paid employees and the direction, oversight and hire/fire responsibilities coming from the Officers.

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  3. I agree that that we need an office manager and that we should have 3 officers but I think the officers need to be based in DC otherwise whoever is in the DC office is going to be considered in charged of NOW. Being an officer of National NOW is a full time job. If there is money in the budget we should get a Development Director to help with fundraising.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I posted this under Proposal Two but think it really fits in better under this proposal: This is my “thinking outside of the box”, but I’m throwing it out for what it is worth. What if we hired a development director/office manager who is stationed in our D.C. office. We could continue to have 3 officers (I am now leaning towards 3 which is a change from what I said previously), with the President being “the voice of NOW”, and still have membership and action VP’s. None of the officers would have to move to D.C.. Pay would be much lower for the officers, but the Pres may have significant travel expenses. The officers would have no office responsibilities so they could devote their time to membership development. Part of the development director/office manager’s compensation could be based on measured performance. This would allow the VP’s to work more closely with local and state chapters, and free the Pres to really be “out there”. I think membership would increase and $$ would flow in more because people would see that NOW, both locally and nationally really does things (I am sometimes asked if NOW really does anything anymore; people say they used to hear about it a lot, but no longer do). And somebody devoting at least 50% of her time to development should help significantly.

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  5. Theresa Bergen, member Rockland NOW, NY
    When I vote for NOW leadership I am voting for political leaders. I expect them to hire the help they need to run the office. If the office manager needs a title call them an ED or a chief of staff. But I do not want any unelected person in charge of any part of NOW.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I agree with Theresa, except that I think “office manager” is, in itself, a title., and the only one needed for this job. If the problem is that we need someone to see that the day to day clerical work, etc. is getting done, then that’s what we should be talking about…which is a very different thing from hiring an “Executive Director”. I assume that what we want is someone who will always be in the office during the normal working day, and that this person would be making sure that the staff and interns are able to complete their tasks, working with them in assisting and clarifying as needed.
      An office manager may be needed because the president, who is certainly “the public face of NOW”, must often be busy elsewhere, and the VPs have enough on their plates overseeing actions, membership, etc.
      BUT an “Executive director” is and does much more than this, and we should not move in that direction if we intend (as I think we should) to continue as a grassroots organization governed by its members who elect its officers.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Judi Polson, NOW-NYC:

        I completely agree with Susan. It is critical to have a consistent presence in the office–call her an office manager, a Chief of Staff, or a Chief Operating Officer as you will–that ensures that the day-to-day work gets done in alignment with the operating rules and other direction from the leadership. This is a skill that can be hired, and probably is better hired than elected, as the operational skillset is not necessarily the same as that for campaigning and providing political leadership.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Whenever talk has turned to an Executive Director on the national or state level, I have wondered how we could still be grassroots. It only makes sense to have an office manager. The officers need an entirely different skill set to operate on the political stage. So pay a manager and take those duties away from the elected officers so they can do what they need to do.
        I don’t know what the salaries these days are but if they followed the path they were going, it’s time to scale back. It wouldn’t hurt to look at the benefit package, too.

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  6. With other boards I’ve served on it has been the board who chose the ED. This seemed to work well as there was a diversity of opinion. Because the Executive Committee has to work closely with the ED (more closely than other board members) I do think they should be perhaps given greater weight in the decision of who to hire as ED; perhaps the Exec. Comm. could have “veto power”. Also, it wouldn’t necessarily have to be the entire board; there could be a search committee made up of several board members.

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  7. Marian Bradley, NW Regional Director, Montana NOW

    I am not in favor of the Executive Committee hiring the ED. I really believe it should be the National Board. I do believe the ED should have the ability to run the organization from a business perspective and the officers should be the “face” of NOW and handle our grassroots work.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Charlotte Klasson
    National Board Member, Mid South Region
    Louisiana

    I would like to speak to why the “Executive Director” idea was proposed and that I believe there is some kind of misunderstanding as to why people don’t think it is a good idea.

    One of the problems that people have complained about over the years is that there seems to be extreme pressure on officers to have all of the skill sets to run not only a highly functioning national office, complete with personnel experience and business acumen….. BUT to also be a dynamo activist who is an expert in all of the issues.

    These people exist, but they are rare and chances are they will have to choose which skill set that will get their primary energy in order to fulfill their positions during their term. I would say we are lucky if we elect someone who fits only one section of these skill sets well and even then we don’t review their resumes as voting members…. we choose a slate and rely on personal statements. Yet what we are doing is “HIRING” these people for four years and offering excellent salaries and benefits without so much as a check of professional references. No, I’m not a hard ass about thinking that is the way we should elect someone, but I’m pointing out that it is a weakness for our current system that isn’t being addressed.

    It isn’t fair to the officer slate to be put in a position that will undoubtedly bring major stress and the chance to be constantly reminded that they “can’t do it all”, but that is what we are expecting of them time and again.

    The idea for an ED stems from the fact that this position would be HIRED by the Board to fulfill the purpose of running an office, handling personnel needs, reviewing contractual issues and maintaining the activities necessary to serve chapters around the country and the national goals. Those skills and requirements are pretty solid in a job market and can be measurable for employment.

    Since officers are not hired in this manner, their ability to “maintain a national office” is not scored over their term. HOWEVER, if their inability to address “the business of running the office” falls down in any way, then these are problems that come out at some point and, as we have found, usually in very bad ways.

    Officers should be enthusiastic “experts” in the issues and should expect to spend their time directing the activism of NOW and being the faces of NOW. An executive director (IMO) doesn’t have to be. But we would expect to hire an ED from the ranks of feminists because we would want someone who understands the goals of NOW.

    I hope this gives a perspective that answers some of the concern about one way to consider that kind of arrangement.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Theresa Bergen, Rokland NOW NY
      Charlotte, if you’re saying the Executive Committee should hire a Executive Director/ or what Patricia Ireland called a chief of staff then of course that’s a great idea. But it is not what has been proposed.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I have an overwhelmingly negative response to the traditional executive director model. The ED would indeed become the face and the spokesperson for NOW, and therein lies the problem. The very fact that an ED can be fired makes them inherently more conservative in dealing with friends and foes in DC. You can’t disrupt the status quo if you depend on it for your next job. Making change requires making people uncomfortable, including our allies. An ED wanting to sure she can be hired somewhere else if she’s fired is much more likely, in my experience with national organizations, to go along with the then-current conventional wisdom, to push only for what others think is politically possible. Our officers historically have been willing to advocate for what we really believe and by doing so, changed the political climate over time.

    Perhaps when we have the money, we need not only a development director but also a chief of staff.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I like the chief of staff idea! That would free up the officers to focus more on “Action” which is what put NOW on the map in the first place. Also, it would free officers up to help with grassroots organizing and building stronger state organizations.

      This is my personal opinion. I am not speaking on behalf of any chapters

      Nancy Mead
      President, Central Oregon Coast NOW
      NOW-Oregon Board Member
      NOW- National Board Member

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  10. I want to propose a variation on the Executive Director model. I think it would be great if NOW enacted a grassroots version of what other successful nonprofits do. Most nonprofits have a self-selecting board that hires and oversees an Executive Director. The Executive Director hires and manages staff. This model works. A grassroots version of that could be as follows:

    NOW could elect one officer only to be the President, who would have the responsibilities of an Executive Director does, including hiring and managing staff. NOW would also elect its board.

    It is based on a non-profit model that is successful for nearly all non-profits. It is a grassroots version because both the President and Board are elected, plus NOW members continue to drive the direction of the organization. It is simple and agile; it enables the organization to change as needed and as the membership wishes without having to redo its bylaws or structure everytime members want a new direction.

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  11. Executive Director
    I am opposed to having an Executive Director because of my observations, experience and understanding of power. I believe that power flows to the person who is literally there. We use expressions like: “position of power”, “place in the hierarchy”, “power behind the throne” because power is related to one’s position. Being there is in and of itself a source of power. An ED would be the person on the spot, the person having the conversation, the person going to the meeting. These are the actions that build and aid in the accumulation of power. The person doing these things and accumulating the power and influence should be the elected officers.

    The PROS
    #1 The first Pro a reason NOT to have an ED. The president of NOW and the other officers should be the “face of NOW.

    #2 We are not a non-profit in any way but an IRS definition. We are a grass roots political and social force. I don’t know where in the world one would develop the skill set needed to run NOW except inside NOW.

    #3 I don’t understand this as part of a Pro and con.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. We are accustomed to expecting our NOW officers to devote their time to the organization. I want to continue in that tradition, and therefore I think it is unreasonable for members to expect an unpaid officer to do grassroots travel and also supervise an ED. Having said that, I do think this that officer salaries could be reduced. Also, I think that an ED in charge of the staff, but not policy decisions, could free up paid officers to concentrate on policy. Seems that the grassroots travel suggested in this proposal could be a big plus. Rather than a ‘con’, I think officers assisting at the local level with organizing could mean more grassroots input, rather than less.

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  13. I am a little bit appalled at even seeing this being proposed as it is obviously geared towards anything but grassroots and equality.

    The ED who is hired, not elected, would be in charge of people who are not being paid, only reimbursed. When it comes to such a huge commitment as this, it sounds like NOW would not be placing any value on their actual time. This doesn’t seem fair and is by far my least favorite proposal as it favors those who are in a position to not rely on money and have the luxury of taking what amounts to unpaid jobs.

    Jeni Tanner-Jordan
    Greater Birmingham NOW
    AL0060

    Liked by 1 person

  14. LIS HARPER, member of HOUSTON AREA NOW (TX0190) and PAC COMMITTEE MEMBER:
    I think it’s worth considering offer more than just a travel stipend to officers, but I disagree with those who think this would absolutely create a top-down structure. If the ED ran the DC office and staff, and the role at National was to participate in coalitions and support chapters, I think this model could actually enhance the focus on the grassroots. With officers and a board coming from the membership and elected leaders within NOW, the policies would still be those approved by members, and the ED could be fired by the Board if necessary. It’s really difficult for officers to relocate to DC every 4 years and the budget of the organization with officer salary is, to me, the problem statement we need to address. I think this proposal does that well and I would only adjust it to say that officers would get some salary as well as travel funds. I think that we as members could craft this in a way that would work for our structure and in a manner that empowers the grassroots. I have a hard time imagining that our chapters and states would really begin taking direction from and ED since that’s just not how we’re structured, so I’m not sure I see that as an issue.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I am against having an ED, we are a grass roots organization we elect our leaders not hire them. Not paying our officers means that only wealthy women could afford to be National officers leaving most NOW members unable to run even if they are qualified, willing and able. If our officers have to keep their jobs they will not have time to travel and attend events representing NOW. In essence this will make the President a figure head and the ED the actual leader of NOW, this is unacceptable.

    Gaby Moreno – NOW-NYC Chapter

    Liked by 3 people

  16. I am afraid I don’t understand this. Is it saying that only an Executive Director will be paid and no one else? How are other people supposed to live if they are not being paid?

    Also, a misspelling – bellow should be below.

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