Our board members learn their role quickly, even after a year of service. Here are the latest items of advice from the group:
Executive Director, Texas Tribune
- Be curious. Ask questions, both publicly in meetings and privately with staff and fellow board members.
- Get proximate. Do your best to learn about all the facets of ONA by participating and observing. Attend your local chapter meetings. Volunteer for board committees or ONA conference activities that are out of your comfort zone.Get comfortable with being a newbie. Be a sponge and soak up everything.
- Mark off time to prepare for the meetings. The board meetings are streamlined, and they cover a lot of ground. Do your homework before the meeting by reviewing all of the prep materials and thinking about what questions or ideas you want to get across.
- Take advantage of your mentor. The board mentor relationship is valuable — don’t squander it. Set up times to check in with your mentor every quarter or so, if only to chit-chat. At the least, you’ll bond with a more experienced board member. At the most, you’ll learn something that helps you be a better board member.
- Exploit your own networks for ONA’s benefit. As you’ll learn, ONA’s tentacles reach in all sorts of directions. Boost its reach by amplifying ONA’s needs and messages across your own networks, both public and private.
Former ONA Board President
- Read everything carefully before each meeting, as it isn’t easy to keep up once we get going.
- Ask a lot of questions, there are no dumb ones!
- Think early on about how invested you want to be in the board experience. Do you want to run a committee or be heavily involved in particular program? Do you want to be an officer? It’s good to be thinking of these things toward the end of your first year of your first term.
- No matter how new you may be to the Board, it is important for you to speak up. Sometimes we really need new eyes and POVs to tell us we are looking at a situation all wrong. I was so unsure of myself in my first year and didn’t really speak up as much as I should have.
ONA Board Vice-President
Don’t wait. Jump in. You’re here because you want to serve the ONA community, and the ONA community has backed you up. We are not a board that stands on ceremony, so please don’t hold back on any questions or ideas you might have. As a board, we are at our best when we’re actively debating or surfacing multiple points of view — this has been the most reliable process for generating the best outcomes for ONA, and guide ONA toward having the greatest impact for digital journalists. Help us do that! (& welcome!!)