ESA Updating its Governance to Better Serve Its Members

Osvaldo Sala, ESA President
Jessica Gurevitch, ESA Secretary
Evan DeLucia, ESA Vice President for Finance

Over the past year, the ESA Governing Board has been working to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of the Society’s governance, with efforts resulting in proposed changes to our governing documents. Many changes have occurred in the 23 years since the most recent constitution and bylaws were put into place, and parts of those documents have become out dated and lack the necessary elements to meet the Society’s current needs. These efforts are taking place in several steps.

Working closely with staff in Phase 1, the Governing Board seeks to streamline and update the structure and contents of the Society’s Bylaws and create a handbook on policies and procedures that better reflect how ESA’s mission and operations are carried out. The goals are to create a governance structure that reflects the actual functioning of the Society and better serves ESA as a modern, professionally managed organization. Phase I of this process advanced over the summer, when the Council discussed the scope of this work, and they voted to endorse this path forward and bring the proposed changes to a vote of the entire membership.

We are pleased to report that membership approved the first phase of this reform process. In the 2019 ESA election, which was completed Nov. 4, ESA members overwhelmingly voted (87%) in favor of dissolving the constitution to make way for the revised, more modern and comprehensive Bylaws. The Governing Board will formally advance these for review by the Council in December; and, if the Council formally accepts them, they will be officially enacted in March 2020 bringing Phase 1 to a close.

With the bylaws updated to properly reflect the roles and responsibilities within ESA’s leadership, the Governing Board and staff will continue to examine the Society’s overall structure and function in a Phase II that will continue over the next several years. Part of this process will be to unambiguously identify the responsibilities of the appropriate bodies (the Governing Board, the Council, the standing committees, etc.) and increase clarity, communication, and continuity in the Society’s leadership. The Governing Board will continue to engage the membership as we move through this process. Through improved governance and strategic planning, we will improve not only how ESA functions as an organization, but we will also provide better service to our membership and community and have greater impact as the advocate for ecological science.

We thank the membership for their embrace of this process for our Society, and we look forward to the positive work that we’ll be able to accomplish together under our revised governance structure.