by Heather Kinion, CMQG Past President and Region 3 Representative on the Board of Directors of the worldwide MQG
Recently, you received an email from the Modern Quilt Guild HQ with links to vote for the Region 3 Representative to the Board of Directors for the worldwide MQG. Maybe you read it, maybe you filed it, maybe it is sitting right there in your email to come back to, but here is a summary of why it is important to vote and some ideas of what to think about when you make your choice.
What the Board of Directors does
The Board of Directors (BoD) is responsible for the fiduciary health of the organization, so the BoD make decisions for the long term health of the organization financially (so we don’t run out of money and cease to exist, so we have stable cash flow and reserves that let’s us pay our staff and continue supporting member programming of all sorts). Since the MQG is a 501c3 non-profit, the directors are also charged with making sure the organization is following all applicable laws–including making sure the BoD members do not have or clearly declare conflicts of interest while they are making major decisions, which may mean having BoD members abstain from some votes or discussions or processes.
The BoD also makes decisions about what the organization will do long term and creates and evaluates strategic goals like what types of programming staff should be directed to focus on, where can our organization grow and why would we choose to grow that way, how to use our resources of both time and personpower, and what kind of organization do we want to be. These strategic goals and ideas are then placed in the care of the Executive Director (ED) who works with the staff to put them in action, and the ED reports to the BoD who have the power to hire and fire the ED and determine the ED’s salary, etc. BUT the day to day decisions are made by the ED and the staff, but are regularly evaluated against strategic plans and goals by the BoD.
The MQG BoD has 5 members who are directly elected by the membership and about as many members who are elected by the BoD (right now this lines up 5 + 4 for 9 total members). Often these BoD elected members are selected due to special skills or knowledge or professional backgrounds, like the current MQG Treasurer who is a CPA who works professionally as an accountant specializing in large non-profits (and is a long time member of the Music City MQG) whereas the member elected Representatives are brought forth from the membership and are voted in by the members in their geographically assigned regions.
So what does a Rep do?
They mostly go to lots of meetings of the Board as a whole and of committees and task forces, all online and all volunteer. Through those meetings and their experiences and knowledge of the greater community, they make decisions on what the MQG is going to be today, tomorrow, and in the far off future. They pay their own way to Quiltcon, including food and lodging and any and all classes or lectures they might take–with the exception of one dinner that gathers the whole board together. This time probably takes up an average of 2-12 hours per month with a large ebb and flow in the busiest and least busy months in their entire 3 year term.
What should you look for in casting your vote for a Regional Rep?
- Commitment – this role requires someone willing to make the time in their life to commit to active involvement for at least the next three years of their term
- Conscience – someone who can be counted on to thoughtfully make decisions even (and especially) in cases where they might have to weigh the impacts on multiple conflicting interests affecting various members of our wider community
- Connection – someone who you feel sees the MQG in a way that matches your own vision because they will be deciding what the MQG will become in the future AND especially in the ways they see the MQG beyond just Quiltcon (the flagship event, but an event that the majority of our members do not participate in personally).
The MQG does not allow for electioneering, but they do provide all the candidates (up to three in any election and two in this current election) with the space to answer questions in both video and text formats that should help you get a sense of their backgrounds and the way they think of themselves as members of the MQG and of the MQG and modern quilting into the future.
As your current Region 3 Rep, and a past President of the Board of Directors, I want everyone to know that these votes are the biggest impact most of us will have on our organization, and they only happen every 3 or 6 years. The last one happened when my second grader was 1! It is possible the next one will not happen until she is an 8th grader!!* The MQG is really as good as we make it, and it takes all of our participation to make it the best that it can be.
*The terms are for 3 years with the BoD confirming a second term IF the Rep chooses to pursue a second term. Since the BoD members do not impact day to day decisions like a political representative, it would be damaging to the fiduciary health of the organization if half of the BoD members were unable to pursue longer terms. It is a best practice of non-profits to have an avenue for BoD members having the ability to stay long enough for the BoD to have an institutional memory and to serve as officers on the Executive Committee of the BoD. This practice allows for these roles to be filled by member elected reps as well as board elected BoD members while having a check in the BoD being able to not confirm for a second terms when it is in the best interest of the organization.
Heather Kinion is the current Region 3 Representative on the Board of Directors of the worldwide MQG. She is a past President of both the Chicago MQG and the worldwide MQG Board of Directors as well as past Chair of Special Events Programming (Chicago MQG), past Chair of the Leadership Handbook Task Force (worldwide MQG), and she has served on the Governance Committee (the worldwide MQG Board of Directors), the Scholarship Committee (worldwide MQG), and the Nomination Committee (worldwide MQG). She is looking forward to attending fewer meetings on Zoom and Google Meet when her term ends at the end of this year.