Who Do I Want On The Board (Besides Me, Of Course)?

Jerry Baumchen asked the question (in a comment) “Have you given any thought as to who else YOU want to see on the BOD?” Yes, I have, but I certainly don’t have a final list yet. For one thing, I don’t know how many of those folks will actually end up on the ballot.

If anyone’s hoping I’ll name names, I won’t. Not now, and not even right before the elections. Maybe if we chat in person you’ll get some names out of me, but I’m not the type to campaign by putting any of my opinions on the candidates down in writing – positive or negative. I’d rather have voters form their own opinions, not copy mine.

That said, here’s some of the characteristics I’d like to see from potential board members:

1) A willingness to engage in open and honest dialog with the membership in a variety of forums. At the meeting in February, some board members openly sneered at the idea of online forums. Well, it’s 2008 and for all its flaws, dropzone.com is a leading source of information in the skydiving community worldwide, and among the USPA board’s constituency. Additionally, if I see a board member at a dropzone or at a boogie, I want to feel like he or she is accessible and willing to be approached to chat about USPA issues, not hanging around with a few elite friends ignoring the masses. Sorry, bud, you represent the masses. Regional director candidates who make a commitment to visiting as many DZs in their region as possible are worthy of a strong look. If I write you an email, are you going to write me back or does this newfangled technology confuse you?

2) Financial interest in the sport. This is an interesting one. Watching the board in action for at least one meeting and having talked to several offline, I’m not entirely convinced that DZO=evil and non-DZO=good on the board. Some of the more thoughtful, committed folks on the board are also DZOs. Some of the folks that I don’t think have members’ best interests in mind are not DZOs. So it’s not that simple, but I do wonder how DZOs, who have to manage their own dropzones every weekend, can manage to get out and about to meet with jumpers at other dropzones. I do wish we had a much better balance on the board, and as I’ve said that’s one of the reasons I’m running. Pay attention to peoples’ background and influences.

3) If they’re an incumbent, do they care enough to update their personal statement much from two years ago? It’s easy enough to check (here’s the bios from 2006) and it’s a good indication of whether they’re engaged in the process or “phoning it in.” For that matter, does the statement actually say anything about what they’re going to do on the board or is it just a list of skydiving accomplishments designed to impress you? If you run into them in person and ask them why you should vote for them – do they give you the time of day? Do they have a compelling answer?

4) If they are willing to address questions online (and I think all prospective candidates should be) do they also show the ability to engage in a proactive and mature dialog about the issues despite attempts that other users might make to bait them into angry responses? Being on the board requires a certain amount of political savvy, and part of that savvy is knowing when to keep your mouth shut.

I’ll probably add more to this list as I think about it more, but those are some initial things that sit right with me early in the process. And some of it is just gut instinct – call it a slime detector. That’s hard to put into practice for all the candidates I haven’t met yet (and there are many I haven’t met).


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