ALA Aligned

Frequently Asked Questions — Proposed Changes to ALA's Regional Structure and Governance

  1. Why is a change to the regional structure and composition of the Board of Directors being proposed?
  2. How does this change to the regional structure impact me?
  3. How does this change affect those currently serving on a Regional Leadership Team?
  4. How will the Chapter Resource Team be composed?
  5. Will the nomination process change?
  6. Doesn’t this change to the regional structure just give more control or power to ALA’s Board?
  7. Don’t members lose our regional/chapter voice in the new Board structure?
  8. If regions are being eliminated, is the Board also considering changes to the chapter structure?
  9. In the proposed change to the regional structure, couldn’t all the at-large directors come from one area of the country?
  10. What is the financial impact of this change to the regional structure?
  11. Does the Chapter Resource Team have an adequate number of members to do its job?
  12. Will Board terms be affected by this change to the regional structure?
  13. Will the job of at-large directors change?
  14. Is this proposed change to the regional structure in some way related to the Define Our Identity initiative?
  15. What prompted the amendment to Sections 6.7 and 6.10 regarding officer vacancies?
  16. What is the minimum number of votes required for the amendment to pass?
  17. For any members who were not able to participate in a Town Hall session, is there a plan to hold additional sessions?
  18. How much time do I have to review the proposed amendment and contemplate the potential impact on the organization?
  19. What does this proposed change mean for independent members?

Have more questions? Please contact the ALA Board of Directors at BoardOfDirectors@alanet.org.

1. Why is a change to the regional structure and composition of the Board of Directors being proposed?

  • Given the accelerated change in the industry, the increasing expectations of our members and the critical role of chapters in ALA, we need the ability to access the volunteers and provide the most effective chapter support structure possible.
  • The role of Regional Leadership Teams has evolved over time, moving away from task-oriented administration to today’s role of chapter mentor and adviser. To align with that evolution of purpose, we need to restructure this group so that it is better positioned to serve the current and future needs of the chapters.
  • Regional borders have proven to have no correlation to the issues and needs of our chapters and members, nor the allocation of Association resources. The existing regional structure has created situations in which we did not have applicants from a particular region or the most qualified applicants were excluded because they resided outside a specific region. The proposed change is the outcome of observations and self-evaluation of the existing structure by ALA leadership over several recent generations of Boards, by our Association’s outside counsel and guidance from Association governance experts and best practices.

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2. How does this change to the regional structure impact me?

  • The Association will be able to provide opportunities for more members to engage with greater impact and provide a more positive volunteer experience. Leadership role definitions — and ultimately nominations — will be founded on clearly articulated skill sets and experience (rather than geographic location).
  • Volunteers participating under this new structure will engage with focus on consultative support of the chapters, providing a more meaningful opportunity to engage and develop leadership capabilities. This will benefit the volunteering individual and their organization (firm, law department, etc.).
  • The Chapter Resource Team, composed of experienced current and former chapter leaders, will be able to provide more substantive direction and targeted support for chapters (bottom-up versus top-down) in an efficient and timely manner.
  • Independent ALA members can always reach out to the Board of Directors with any questions, feedback or needs by emailing BoardofDirectors@alanet.org.

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3. How does this change impact those currently serving as a regional representative?

  • Current Regional Representatives will constitute the initial makeup of the newly created Chapter Resource Team.

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4. How will the Chapter Resource Team be composed?

  • The Immediate Past President will become Chair of the Chapter Resource Team.
  • Chapter Resource Team members will be vetted by the Nominating Committee relative to the skills, knowledge and experience requirements defined for this position.

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5. Will the nomination process change?

  • No. Chapter Resource Team volunteer candidates will be nominated through the existing open process.

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6. Does this change to the regional structure just give more control or power to ALA’s Board?

  • No. The nomination and selection process will continue to be conducted independent of the sitting Board of Directors by regular Association members serving on a single-term Nominating Committee. This change provides no additional control or authority to the Board or staff. The revised structure is designed to more effectively place Association leadership in the hands of our volunteers.
  • This structure increases flexibility and, through that, enhances efficiency and effectiveness by affording every director the opportunity to focus on the overall strategy of the Association and therefore serve all members.

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7. Do members lose their regional/chapter voice in the new Board structure?

  • No. This change is designed to empower the voice of chapters/members in any location by giving them direct access to the full resources of every volunteer leader on the Board and the Chapter Resource Team, regardless of geographic location.
  • As originally written, the ALA bylaws do not reference, nor do they intend to create, a regional representation structure for the Association. Rather, the regional structure was originally conceptualized to assist the Board in administering to and communicating with its chapters and members. A revised approach to the criteria for leadership selection (broadening it) is the only element of change in this proposed restructure.
  • A Chapter Resource Team that is unrestricted by a regional boundary creates a resource available to serve any and all chapters and enables more effective use of our member volunteers’ skills and experience.
  • Chapter and independent ALA members alike can always reach out to the Board of Directors with any questions, feedback or needs by emailing BoardofDirectors@alanet.org.

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8. If regions are being eliminated, is the Board also considering changes to the chapter structure?

  • No. There has been no consideration of any change to the role and structure of chapters.
  • Chapters exist and are organized to provide direct value to members on a local level; Regional Leadership Teams were never designed for such a role but were instead created to assist the Board and staff with of the Association.
  • Chapters provide unique local member engagement experiences that cannot be replicated regionally or by ALA headquarters.

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9. In the proposed change to the regional structure, could all the at-large directors come from one area of the country?

  • Such an occurrence would be highly unlikely (though it is technically possible). At-large director nominees will continue to come from across the entire Association, and there are nine (9) total positions to be filled. Although regions won’t exist, geographic coverage can be a factor considered by the Nominating Committee.
  • ALA leadership roles will be filled based on the skills the Association needs to best serve members and chapters, which provides a more relevant and representative criteria than limitations based on where that volunteer resides or works.

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10. What is the financial impact of this change to the regional structure?

  • At this time, no financial impact is anticipated because the Chapter Resource Team will initially consist of the current Regional Leadership Team members. The Board of Directors will be unchanged in total size.

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11. Does the Chapter Resource Team have an adequate number of members to do its job?

  • We believe that the current number of regional leadership team members transitioning to the Chapter Resource Team will provide sufficient resources to respond to the present level of need.
  • Feedback from chapters will be important to validate this assumption. The composition of the Chapter Resource Team is subject to revision by the Board as necessary to respond to chapter needs.

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12. Will Board terms be affected by this change to the regional structure?

  • There is currently no proposal to change Board terms.
  • The evaluation of our governance structure is an ongoing strategy to ensure that our Association is keeping pace with the changing needs of our members and industry.

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13. Will the job of at-large directors change?

  • The proposed changes in governance structure will not change the scope of duties of the at-large directors, other than to free them from any real or perceived regional restrictions to more fully serve the entire Association.

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14. Is this proposed change to the regional structure in some way related to the Define Our Identity initiative?

  • The proposed change will better allow ALA to define and align its organizational identity to meet its needs.

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15. What prompted the amendment to Sections 6.7 and 6.10 regarding officer vacancies?

  • Given the short duration of the term, it is not uncommon for the individual holding the office of Secretary/Treasurer to be asked to serve an additional term. This adjustment allows for that reappointment to occur.
  • The Board referred to the bylaws upon receiving the recent resignation of an Immediate Past President. They discovered that while addressing vacancies in all other offices, the bylaws were silent on how to handle a vacancy in the office of Immediate Past President.

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16. What is the minimum number of votes required for the amendment to pass?

According to Article XIV of the bylaws regarding amendments, a simple majority vote is all that is needed for an amendment to pass and there is no minimum requirement for the number of total votes cast. Article XIV reads as follows:

These bylaws may be altered, amended or repealed and new Bylaws may be adopted by a majority vote of the voting members casting ballots, provided that such alteration, amendment or repeal has been approved by the Board of Directors and submitted in writing to the membership not more than sixty (60) and not less than ten (10) days prior to the date by which the same is to be considered.

PLEASE NOTE, during the January 28 and 29 town hall sessions there was an inaccurate reference to a 10% minimum vote requirement. That minimum reflects the quorum requirements for a meeting of the membership (Article V), but not for the purposes of executing amendments. We apologize for misstating this during the town hall sessions.

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17. For any members who were not able to participate in a Town Hall session, is there a plan to hold additional sessions?

Currently there are not plans to hold any additional town hall session. PLEASE NOTE, the Town Hall sessions held on January 28 and 29 were recorded and are available for on-demand viewing on the ALA Governance webpage.

If you have additional questions or feedback regarding the proposed ALA governance changes, or if you would like to speak with a Board member directly, please feel free to send an email to BoardOfDirectors@alanet.org. The Board welcomes any and all feedback and is ready to answer questions.

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18. How much time do I have to review the proposed amendment and contemplate the potential impact on the organization?

The overall timing for this process is dictated by ALA bylaws; that includes guidelines that begin with notification of membership through the closing of the voting period. ALA’s bylaws address the notification period required for amendments as follows:

These bylaws may be altered, amended or repealed and new Bylaws may be adopted by a majority vote of the voting members casting ballots, provided that such alteration, amendment or repeal has been approved by the Board of Directors and submitted in writing to the membership not more than sixty (60) and not less than ten (10) days prior to the date by which the same is to be considered.

Based on the parameters above required by the bylaws:

  • ALA membership was made aware of the Board’s intent on Friday, January 25
  • Voting opens to all ALA members on Monday, February 4
  • Voting ALA members must cast their ballot by 11:59 p.m. Central Time on Sunday, February 24

If you have additional questions or feedback regarding the proposed ALA governance changes, or if you would like to speak with a Board member directly, please feel free to send an email to BoardOfDirectors@alanet.org. The Board welcomes any and all feedback and is ready to answer questions.

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19. How much time do I have to review the proposed amendment and contemplate the potential impact on the organization?

  • The Association will be able to provide opportunities for more members to engage with greater impact and provide a more positive volunteer experience. Leadership role definitions — and ultimately nominations — will be founded on clearly articulated skill sets and experience (rather than geographic location).
  • ALA leadership roles will be filled based on the skills the Association needs to best serve members and chapters, which provides a more relevant and representative criteria than limitations based on where that volunteer resides or works.
  • Independent ALA members can always reach out to the Board of Directors with any questions, feedback or needs by emailing BoardofDirectors@alanet.org.

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