Learn About Proposed Changes to ESA’s Governance for the Fall Ballot
Periodically, the Ecological Society of America reviews its priorities for serving its members and the discipline of ecology. Over the past year, the Governing Board and staff leadership conducted a review resulting in a new strategic plan to focus ESA’s effort and resources. During the review, we also realized that our governance documents were outdated and in need of modernization to increase transparency, communication, and broad participation by members in the Society.
Currently, the Society’s governance is laid out in a Constitution and detailed Bylaws. These documents are incomplete in some places, outdated in some areas of technical (legal) compliance, and contradictory in a few important respects. The Governing Board, whose members are elected by the ESA membership, formed a Governance Subcommittee to review and recommend changes to update ESA’s governance structure.
After extensive discussions, review, and consultation over the past year, the Governing Board recommends two major steps toward improving the governing documents for the Society:
- Dissolve the Constitution (an outmoded form of governing document), while moving all relevant governance provisions to the updated, proposed Bylaws. The membership will vote to dissolve the Constitution as part of the annual ballot in September – October.
- Streamline the Bylaws to retain the key governance provisions, while updating required legal practices and strengthening some aspects of governance and oversight. The Council will vote electronically to approve the new bylaws in November – December.
Overall, the proposed changes will create a governance structure that better serves the large, complex, professionally managed society we have become. Some revisions will move responsibility to more appropriate locations within our structure; for example, formal approval of the annual budget will now be carried out by the Governing Board, whose members are elected by the entire Society and who bear fiduciary responsibility for ESA. Other revisions are designed to increase clarity, communication, and continuity in the Society’s leadership (e.g., changing the terms of elected Members-at-Large from 2 to 3 years).
In order to revise and improve ESA’s governing documents, a vote of the membership is necessary to dissolve the Constitution and then a vote of the Council is necessary to approve the revised Bylaws. At its meeting in Louisville, the ESA Council endorsed this proposed governance reform, including dissolving the Constitution to replace it with merged and modernized Bylaws. We aim to include the first step of this reform, the dissolution of the Constitution, on the 2019 election ballot that will be shared with all members in September.
The documents linked below provide you with background on where we started and what we recommend:
- A Governance Renovation FAQ Sheet that will accompany the formal voting package distributed this fall.
- The proposed Bylaws are organized to follow modern bylaws for a nonprofit association.
- The Combined Bylaws & Constitution—Track Changes show how the current Constitution and Bylaws were combined and what changes were made to the original provisions.
Please share your thoughts on the following form by Sept. 9.