Friday, August 19, 2011

Free Geek 2011 AGM

Hi all,

Free Geek held its 4th formal Annual General Meeting yesterday evening at the Maritime Labour Centre just down the street. In Free Geek fashion we dismantled the orderly rows of chairs, ignored the raised podium and microphones, and sat in a circle. The AGM is the yearly changing of the guard where the old board of directors steps down and a new board is chosen. Here's one quick report on how it went.

Being director of a non-profit is a difficult job. Directors are not paid for their work and are broadly responsible for the ongoing stewardship of the organization at a high level. They get all the tough jobs -- if there's a legal problem, or dysfunction at a lower level of decision-making, it goes to the directors. Free Geek's consensus decision-making process adds an additional complication, in that the directors cannot simply make and enforce difficult decisions without getting a lot of push-back from the community.

For all of these reasons, please hug a director if you see one.

The 2010-2011 Board of Directors -- Jordan, Luke, Mark, Ali, Chris -- have done a spectacular job. Free Geek, to my volunteer eyes, appears to be running smoothly through relatively clear waters. Thanks, guys.

The new board consists of a larger and pleasantly diverse group: Karen Nygaard, Joshua Caldwell, Scott Nelson, Rod Brennan, Devenne Drege, Wayne Fung, Bill McGrath, and Christine Ho. Two of these are previous directors -- Christine Ho, 2009-2010, and Scott Nelson, who is one of Free Geek Vancouver's founders from sometime in the mists of pre-history, or 2006, whichever is more recent.

All of the candidates, without exception, had something valuable to add to Free Geek Vancouver and as with any selection process it's difficult to choose who to include. This was Free Geek's first AGM to run by the newly-modified bylaws -- see a prior post on this -- and while the process functioned in a broad sense, i.e. in my opinion a good board has been chosen, it wasn't always fair or harmless to those involved. I'll be involved in proposing a few tweaks to make it better for next time. A good process is one that results in good outcomes in spite of itself and we're only partway there.

We also have a number of positive trends that are worth highlighting. We have never before had so many candidates from which to choose a board. We have never chosen a board this large, which will hopefully allow for work to be delegated evenly and lightly amongst directors and in accord with their various superhero abilities. (That's a trend Free Geek Portland is following as well.) We have two returning board members, which is unprecedented and will help bring both continuity and long-term thinking to the board. And though it's subjective, I don't think we've ever had a board this diverse and experienced.

So, in the name of ghastly puns, welcome a board. Let's see what we can accomplish in the next year. And thanks, everyone -- staff, volunteers, and candidates -- for participating in the steering of Free Geek Vancouver.

(Meeting minutes will be listed here when they are available. Thanks to Tim and Luke for their respective sales and financial reports.)

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