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2021 ESA Governance Redesign: Proposed Committee Structure and Processes

ESA’s standing committees support the Society by providing leadership, oversight, programs. Committees operate at the intersection of the Governing Board, professional staff, and membership. Some committees are directly tied to the fiduciary oversight, some committees are tied directly to core Society programs, and some committees are tied to specific program administration. Their composition, leaders, and reporting vary from committee to committee, with certain requirements established in the bylaws.

While the purpose and value of committees remains unchanged, this structure has created challenges as the Society has grown:

  • The committee reporting structure has created gaps between the Society’s business needs and Governing Board responsibilities.
  • Because Vice Presidents also chair committees, this structure places a heavier burden on Vice Presidents and limits the engagement of Members-at-Large. It also limits committee leadership (chair) opportunities.
  • Because the committee structure is prescribed in the Bylaws, it is more difficult for the governance structure to adapt to changing circumstances.

Current ESA Committee Structure

Vice President for FinanceVice President for ScienceVice President for Public AffairsVice President for Education and Human ResourcesSecretaryGoverning Board
Science CommitteePublic Affairs CommitteeCommittee on Diversity and EducationTellers CommitteeAudit Committee
Meetings CommitteeAwards CommitteeHistorical Records CommitteeNominations Committee
Publications CommitteeCommittee on Professional Ethics and AppealsLong-range Planning Grants Committee
Vegetation Classification PanelBoard of Professional CertificationExecutive Review and Compensation Committee

Recommendation 2. Align committees into board, program, and administrative committees with appropriate reporting and supervising lines.

The Governance Subcommittee has proposed that:

  • Standing committees be reorganized into three channels:
    1. Board committees that provide leadership and oversight
    2. Program committees that support strategy and implementation of core programs
    3. Administrative committees that implement specific programs
Detail of new committee structure into three lines of reporting and responsibility; Committees of the Governing Board will include the Audit Committee, Finance Committee, Nominations Committee, Professional Ethics and Appeals Committee, Executive Review and Compensation Committee and Tellers Committee, as well as the new Diversity Committee; Program Committees will include the Science Committee, Meetings Committee, Publications Committee, Public Affairs Committee, Education Committee and Awards Committee; administrative committees will include the Vegetation Classification Panel, Board of Professional Certification and Historical Records Committee

Detail of new committee structure into three lines of reporting and responsibility; click to enlarge

  • Standing committees are all authorized by and accountable to the Governing Board. They continue to be supported by the CEO and professional staff.

Recommendation 3. Refresh committee processes—how committees are charged, who creates committees, committee report out to the Council

  • The process by which committee chairs and members are appointed be restructured in keeping with their different channels:

Proposed Committee Leadership and Membership Structure

Board CommitteesProgram CommitteesAdministrative Committees
ChairBoard Member
Nominated by ESA President
Approved by Governing Board
Non-Board Member
Nominated by ESA President in consultation with others
Non-Board member
Chair appointment depends on specific rules of committee
MembersMostly Board members
Nominated by chair
Approved by ESA President
Mostly non-Board members
Nominated by chair
Approved by ESA President
Non-Board members
Members depend on specific rules of committee

At its May 2021 meeting, the Governing Board made two other changes to standing committees. It established a Finance Committee, and it split the Committee on Diversity and Education into two committees (The Diversity Committee would be a board committee, and the Education Committee would be a program committee).

Once the Bylaws revisions have been approved by Council, an Ad Hoc Leadership & Governance Committee will review and update all committee charters and the Committee Leadership Manual to reflect these changes.