Update to Membership, Post 2020 Mid-Year Board Meeting

Greetings, AORE community,

I’m sitting here with my shoulder in a sling after a gnarly unplanned dismount off of my mountain bike. People in this community keep telling me that mountain biking is fun, but my skepticism grows with every softball-sized bruise and (likely) torn ligament…

But I digress…

The purpose of this update is to recap the work that took place in June during the mid-year AORE Board of Directors meeting. For those of you who are new to the Association or unfamiliar with its governance structure, the Board meets in-person twice annually, in addition to monthly calls, as part of its governance responsibilities. This year, in light of the ongoing global pandemic, we opted for virtual meetings.

This year, the Board’s goals for our midyear meeting were as follows:

  1. Approve Bylaw Alignment Taskforce (BAT) recommendations

  2. Develop communication/education plan for membership re: BAT recommendations

  3. Confirm succession planning/board recruitment

  4. Set 2021 priorities for the Association

In addition to these outcomes, the Board also received an update from the National Office staff related to the state of the Association (which included member, staffing, and financial impacts from COVID-19) and ongoing initiatives--this type of Association business happens at every mid-year and pre-conference board meeting.

It will come as no surprise that in our given climate, AORE is facing many unprecedented challenges and opportunities as it navigates moving beyond traditional in-person programs and services (namely, our annual conference) into a new, expanded virtual space.

Help move AORE forward. 


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

AORE, as an association, as well as the volunteer and paid individuals who guide the association, are evaluating and reconciling our role(s) in perpetuating and dismantling systems of oppression that exist within our Association and our industry. Speaking only for myself, it is deeply complex AND uncomfortable AND necessary work to examine complicit behavior and identify opportunities for anti-racist and inclusive action. I have a lot to learn.

I invite you to join our conversation on July 17th, hosted by members of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, AORE Board of Directors, and AORE National Office. Register here: http://mms.aore.org/Calendar/moreinfo.php?eventid=24548

I feel like I’m jumping around all over the place in this Chair update, so thanks for bearing with me. 

Association Bylaws Alignment

I’d like to circle back to the Bylaw Alignment Taskforce--for some of you, this may be the first that you’ve heard of it. I’ll do my best to give the abridged version (as other members of the Taskforce will provide context and updates in future communications).

If you’ve attended an Annual Business Meeting (ABM) at an AORE conference in the past decade, you’ll know that the Association is governed by a set of bylaws. You can find them here. In the 20 years since the bylaws were originally written by our founding members and AORE legal team, member needs and the non-profit climate in which we operate has changed significantly. To that end, we were advised by a member of our legal counsel (who, coincidentally, was one of the individuals responsible for drafting the original bylaws), that our bylaws contained contradictory and/or outdated directives that could create governance and/or liability issues for the Association. These inconsistencies exist, in part, because the bylaws have been updated in a piecemeal fashion; for example, if the BOD or membership identified a clause that was no longer relevant to the association, that specific clause might have been altered or removed; however, in doing so, it could (and in several instances has) create a contradiction in bylaw execution. 

Still with me? These are things my bachelor’s degree in history didn’t prepare me for…

After submitting our existing bylaws to our Governance Committee and legal counsel, we were advised that it was time for a realignment of our bylaws in order to follow non-profit governance best practices (which have changed in the last two decades) as well as to remove contradictions and inconsistencies within our current bylaws.

Hence, the Bylaw Alignment Taskforce was created. 

AORE invited several past presidents, current BOD members, and an external facilitator (Onuka Ibe, from La Piana Consulting) to serve on the BAT. The BAT was chaired by Victoria Lopez-Hererra, a current member of the BOD with non-profit governance experience in other associations. Over the course of the past several months, the BAT met several times to review the existing bylaws, identify needs, and redraft a new set of bylaws that would bring Association governance in line with best-practices for nonprofit organizations in the current climate. 

I’m happy to report that through many challenging and productive conversations, the BAT was able to agree on a set of realigned bylaws, which were delivered to the BOD at the mid-year meeting, and the BOD voted to move the proposed bylaws forward to membership. Adopting the new proposed bylaws will require a vote by the membership. The BOD used the mid-year meeting to develop a communication and education plan to the membership--of which one of the first touchpoints is this letter from me.

Over the next several months, you can expect a variety of updates, forums, and resources to be released by AORE informing members of the bylaw alignment process, best practices for non-profit governance, opportunities to have conversations with AORE leadership about the bylaws (through virtual town halls), and a timeline/steps for the voting process. We discussed this process on a recent Association Chat (Mid-year Recap). You can find the recording after logging into our Members' Area and proceeding to Online Learning.

The board is working on pulling together resources, including a FAQ that provides context for the recommended changes to bylaws, that will be available shortly. We are also working on scheduling one town hall in the month of July and one town hall in the month of August. The voting period for the bylaw proposal will take place online from September 1 - September 30th. More information on the voting process will be sent out to membership eligible to vote between now and that time.

In the meantime, you can find a copy of the proposed bylaws here. While reading the realigned bylaws, you’ll find a comprehensive list of changes and the rationale for those changes on the last page. On your member portal, you will find a page dedicated to bylaw alignment resources - please take time to review those items. Additionally, you can navigate to the Governance Page for more governance resources.

2021 Association Priorities

The BOD agreed that in light of our current climate, a critical goal for AORE moving forward is to remain fiscally solvent. That said, the BOD committed to using the Association’s 4 strategic anchors: advocacy, professional development, networking, career advancement to guide the Association during this challenging time. 

We will focus on membership (opening doors, shifting our culture), programming (what should start, what should stop, what should continue?), leadership cultivation and recruitment (speaking of which, if you or a member of your network may be interested in serving on the BOD in the coming years, please reach out to a current board member!), and exploring other revenue streams. While you read through the realigned bylaws, please note that the proposed updated mission statement is included, as well as the Association’s Articles of Incorporation. By explicitly including both of these elements in our realigned bylaws, AORE will be able to serve and learn from a wider, more diverse membership base, which will in turn enhance the experience of organizations and members who have been a part of this Association for some time. 

As the Association has historically relied on the annual conference and membership fees to generate revenue, AORE will need to consider how it may diversify its revenue streams (or other methods of program delivery) if traditional offerings are disrupted or no longer relevant.

Thanks for taking the time to read this update, and please feel free to reach out to me, another BOD member, or the National Office with questions or comments. Thanks for your continued support of the Association.




Kellie Gerbers
AORE Board Chair