In April, I was able to attend AJLI’s Organizational Development Institute (ODI) as one of JL Boston’s delegates. It was an exciting opportunity to understand our work in the context of what our parent and sister organizations do, as well as to dive deep into what our new governance model, which we adopt on July 1, will mean for the coming years.
Each ODI delegate is able to select an educational track to attend. I chose Governing for Excellence, facilitated by Kathleen Demro. Over two days, we learned about how non-profit governance works generally, and about how governance principles are specifically adapted to Junior Leagues. As one of the first Executive Management Team (EMT) members for the Boston League, I was eager to hear about what to expect from the new model, in which the strategically-focused Board is a separate entity from the tactically-focused EMT. Here are my main takeaways:
- When implemented correctly, the bifurcated governance model should facilitate quicker decisions and actions. Because the Board has determined the “what” of our strategy, the EMT is empowered to figure out the “how” of our tactics.
- By clarifying and streamlining responsibilities, this governance structure should be less taxing on the women in each leadership position. While serving as a JL Boston leader is a significant commitment, this model should help each person better focus her time where it’s needed, so that each hour is spent more effectively.
- The model is intended to improve harmony and synergy between the various programs within the League. Since each team will be working under the same clearly defined strategy, the tactics should work together.
- There’s a huge toolkit of Junior League resources, both from AJLI and within our own League, that can be leveraged for guidance. I wasn’t aware of the depth of these resources and will be diving in over the summer to see what I can learn.
Perhaps most helpful of all was hearing from members of other Leagues that have already adopted this governance model about its benefits and their best practices.
The Memphis ODI also overlapped with the AJLI Annual Meeting, so we had the opportunity to mingle with the leaders of Leagues from around the world. We were also thrilled to see the JL Boston honored with a Public Policy and Advocacy Award for our “Women Moving Our Community Forward – A Discussion on Public Advocacy” Conference.