The primary function of the Nominating Committee under the Bylaws is the nomination at the Annual Meeting to fill any openings among the nine at-large Standing Committee members who serve for three-year terms, plus the Treasurer, Clerk and Moderator, all of which are for one-year terms.
In the case of the at-large members, we are looking for people who have visibly demonstrated participation in and leadership of First Parish committees and/or leadership in groups similar to the SC. They have functioned effectively and productively and acted in accordance with UU principles. We also want to make sure that they are interested in the longer-range, more abstract tasks of governance: visioning, strategy, discernment and oversight. Some years we have other sources to consider – this year we had a needs documents from the SC – and we seek a representative diversity from the membership.
With these characteristics in mind, we gather as wide a pool of names as possible, using first-hand knowledge, referrals and outreach; the relative emphasis of these has changed from year to year. We go through this pool and discuss who to put on the initial list. If you know someone, including yourself that you feel is a candidate for this list, contact any NC member.
We send this list (in no particular order) to the Executive Team for vetting. This is advisable because they have privileged information about members’ personal situations that may lead them to suggest deferring that person from the list for the current year only. The NC always reviews such recommendations the following year to see if the person can come back on the list.
The NC then prioritizes the vetted list, starting with the person who most closely matches the characteristics described above, perceived needs and current circumstances. After prioritizing, a member of the NC calls the person who is first on the list and asks whether she or he would be willing to open a conversation on what it means to be a member of the SC. We describe, we answer questions, we recommend other people to contact.
After a period of time between a few minutes and a few days, the potential candidate lets us know whether or not they can take on the position. If the answer is no for this year we then move on to consider another candidate from our list. As our former intern Erik Wikstrom wrote, “No is as sacred as Yes.” We want a person who makes this commitment because it will be of spiritual benefit to them as well as to us.
Eventually we do find people who can say yes – and we are very happy to present these people to you as nominees.
The process for the Treasurer, Clerk and Moderator is the same, although the characteristics include the specialized skill sets for each position.
The Nominating Committee also offers leadership succession planning assistance to committees and assists the staff and Standing Committee in parish leadership development.