This was one of the basic questions discussed by Rev. David Pyle in a workshop he led last May in Channing Hall! David is a UUA consultant who specializes in church governance. Participants in his workshop on “How to Be a Strategic Board” came from a number of UU congregations in our region, including ours.
As David Pyle described it, in some congregations, the board makes all the decisions on program and operations. At the opposite end of the continuum, boards focus their attention on strategic tasks such as policy and strategic planning. Many boards fall somewhere in between.
If the board doesn’t make those program and operational decisions, who does? According to David Pyle, it’s the staff in some congregations, typically the largest. Other congregations rely on a program council of committee chairs, similar to our Program Coordinating Council. Another approach described by David Pyle is the “executive team model.” The executive team usually consists of 3-5 lay leaders and staff, appointed by the board, and is responsible for implementing policy and priorities established by the board.
In the Governance Working Group’s vision of future governance for Albany UU, we call this body “the Program Team.” The Program Team would hold the overall responsibility for program and operational management. The Program Team would delegate the authority to manage specific activities and programs to volunteer teams, just as our committees manage activities and programs today. But in this future vision, when teams want to start a new program or resolve an issue, they would bring their questions to the Program Team, instead of asking the Board
The Board of Trustees has charged the Governance Working Group with developing a plan for implementing this new governance vision. The GWG intends to meet with committees and hold congregational conversations to share more of these ideas and get broad feedback. We are considering piloting the Program Team model, or other aspects of this governance vision, in order to better understand what might work for Albany UU. After these steps, the refined governance vision will be translated into new bylaws that will be presented for congregational approval and new policies for the Board to approve.
The members of the Governance Working Group — Molly Daniels, Jon Newell, Peggy Sherman and Sam Trumbore – welcome your questions and comments. It’s still early in the process, and we are happy to hear from any member of the congregation on this topic.