Dear MidAmerica Region Board of Trustees and Delegates:
The MidAmerica Region (MAR) Nominating Committee is pleased to submit the following Committee Report and proposed slate for consideration at the 2018 Annual Business Meeting.
For the development of the 2018 Regional slate, the committee started to meet in July 2017. President Eric Huffer joined us for the meeting and expressed that this was a watershed moment for the Region to work toward achieving racial and ethnic diversity. He expressed that the Board works hard at lifting up marginalized communities. However, racially and ethnically diverse voices are missing. The by-laws state that “[t]he Nominating Committee shall endeavor to nominate individuals so that the membership of the Board of Trustees and each elected committee reflects the full diversity of the Region, especially in regard to historically marginalized communities, but also balancing amongst size of congregation, lay and ordained, geography, age (including youth and young adults), and gender, among others.” Most other marginalized groups are well-represented.
There was an immediate vacancy on the Board created by the resignation of Vice President Doug Cauble. There was a year left in the Vice-President’s position. Trustee-At-Large David Lauth agreed to move into the Vice-President’s position and he was appointed by the Board, leaving a Trustee-At-Large Vacancy. There were 2 years left in the Trustee-At-Large’s position. We had 3 potential candidates. Rev. Mitra Jafarzadeh was nominated to fill the Trustee-At-Large vacancy and appointed by the Board of Trustees. The Committee retained the other candidates who were qualified and added to the Maybe Next Time List.
We met monthly via conference call beginning in the fall of 2017 and increased frequency to bi-weekly in January and to weekly in February, March and part of April 2018, with e-mail conversation in between meetings. We used a Dropbox to share, store, and exchange files. We gathered a good set of documents (including sample emails, the Questionnaire, Board Description, Maybe Next Year List of potential candidates, among other documents). We are well into establishing a solid process for the MidAmerica Region.
This was a difficult year. The Nominating Committee suffered resignations of 3 people from its committee for various reasons. The remaining members worked diligently and faithfully attended meetings. I am lucky to have worked with such a dedicated group of committee members. Once the immediate vacancy was filled, we met to orient our new members and outlined our previous process of finding candidates and how we might change that process to fulfill our charge to find more a more racially and ethnically diverse set of candidates.
We reviewed pending vacancies on the Board of Trustees, Nominating Committee, and Midwest UU Conference (MUUC) Board of Directors due to term limits or other reasons. We also contacted individuals whose terms were ending but would be eligible to continue in their current or different positions to determine their interest in remaining in their current position.
We made contact with several groups requesting nominations. These groups included contacts to Black Lives UU, UU Allies for Racial Equity, Diverse & Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries (DRUUMM), and Church of the Larger Fellowship. We missed sending an email to all Presidents and Ministers as we have in the past. We also asked current board members and potential candidates if they had any names. We sought names from MidAmerica Regional staff. We had difficulty getting names of candidates. Rev. Sharon Dittmar and Andrew Zallar on MAR staff provided several names. We contacted more than 17 people about their interest. In the end, we were able to fill all the positions except a one-year term on the Nominating Committee.
The Nominating Committee discussed at length the succession of Board members. We felt that the by-laws aren’t clear on whether the officers have their own term. The course of conduct has been as follows: when an officer leaves, their term needs to be filled; when a Board member moves into an officer position, their term is vacant and needs to be filled. Since officer positions are usually filled by another board member, we became confused about which terms were remaining and maintaining the proper rotation. In addition, we need to keep track of how many partial terms were served by each Board member and found it to be a daunting task. We agreed that the By-laws are not clear on this issue and we recommend that the Board consider a re-write of the By-laws to simplify the Nominating Committee’s task.
As you will see from the proposed slate, we were not able to propose persons for every position. We are pleased that one member of the Nominating Committee has volunteered for another term, as have two members of the Board of Trustees, and two members of MUUC.
While this slate of candidates is done, we will continue our work per MAR bylaws. We are looking for a nominee for Camp UniStar; we will have a vacancy to fill by June 30th.
We want to express our deepest gratitude to all those willing to serve, to those who are continuing to serve, and to those whose terms have ended. We would like to extend a special thank you to the Board, in particular, Eric Huffer for his support and encouragement. We would also like to thank MAR Staff for their assistance: Rev. Sharon Dittmar and Andrew Zallar for the names of potential candidates, and to Peggy Boccard and Gretchen Ohmann for quick assistance in adding/removing members from the email list and providing contact information for the Board, Committees, Presidents, and Ministers.