So, you've seen the pictures of the national executive council (NEC) hard at work by now, and you have an idea of what we look like as we discuss association issues. Not very exciting pictures, I know. But beneath that unexciting exterior there's lots of neat stuff going on. These quarterly summaries will give you a brief, informal resumé of what we did during the most recent meeting. If you want more info, you can read the official minutes when they are posted.
Halifax, June 2013
As I write this I find myself slipping into happy reverie as I remember the succulent, buttery lobster we enjoyed at the conference banquet in Halifax. This year's conference was an amazing feat for a twig to pull off, and we'll be singing sea shanties memorializing the affair for years to come, I'm sure. And they said it couldn't be done…
But it wasn't all about noshing, hobnobbing and mastering new skills for the hard-working members of the national executive council (NEC).
Preparation for the conference actually started weeks beforehand with planning the annual general meeting (AGM). One of our toughest tasks was keeping a certain agenda item a secret from the president, Greg Ioannou. Since the president creates the agenda and chairs the AGM, this required a Mission Impossible level of covert ops. You see, Lee d'Anjou had secretly nominated Greg Ioannou for Honorary Life Membership in the association. With timing that would rival even the best of caper films, we pulled off a masterful feat. After I wrestled the chairing responsibilities away from a stunned Greg, Lee made her motion, several people tried to second it (even though we only needed one seconder), and the unanimous vote ended in a standing ovation. Congratulations, Greg!
While the terrific pre-conference sessions presented by the Quebec/Atlantic Canada branch and Nova Scotia twig got underway on Friday, the NEC found itself locked away for an all-day meeting. As they say, no rest for the wicked!
After the regular housekeeping motions were dealt with, we got to the meat of that day's meeting. Nominations for the various NEC and national committee positions were finalized for presentation to the membership at the AGM. Nominating committee chair Michelle Boulton lamented the lack of input from the branches in populating these posts and suggested keeping the nominating committee active all year. We want (and need) your suggestions for these important roles throughout the year!
Next up, everyone's favourite topic: finances. Financially healthy branches are the mainstay of a healthy association so national is always looking for ways to help the branches function and improve their financial situations. We discussed concerns regularly raised by branches, such as less revenue from local initiatives, difficulties developing and keeping volunteers, and loss of income for some members because of government cutbacks. National treasurer Danielle Arbuckle and executive director Carolyn L Burke will review the current formula for calculating transfer payments to the branches to see how changing that formula in the branches' favour would affect national's 2014 budget.
One of the NEC's preoccupations is effective communication with the branches and twigs. We presently have two directors of branches and twigs: one for the eastern region and one for the west. These directors do a great job liaising between their local groups and the NEC, but there's always room for improvement. What can we do to enrich communications between the local groups and national? Here are some suggestions.
- Have all branch chairs represented directly at the NEC table (NB: this has proven very effective in the past, but it is costly and unwieldy with such a large group).
- Use online conferencing more.
- Use social media to raise and discuss common issues.
- Find the budget for an annual stand-alone NEC/Branch-Twig meeting.
Can you think of any more? Let us know! Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jacquie Dinsmore, President-Elect
P.S. Thanks to everyone who voted for me. Or, er…acclaimed me, as it were. I guess it's the thought that counts!