14 May 2009

Contributing to the Creation of a “Greener” RID

Submitted by RID Region Representatives; Rebekah Barkowitz, Lisa Schaefermeyer, Kelly Flores, Amie Seiberlich and Jonathan Webb

The concept of “going green is one that is gaining more global momentum. While the term is used most frequently when discussing energy, renewable resources and recycling, in its broadest sense, it can also mean efficient use of existing resources. And in order for existing resources to be used in the most efficient fashion – whether they are people, money, collective intelligence and/or policies and procedures, those that consume these resources must know exactly what is at their disposal.

RID has grown to more than 14,000 members in its brief 45 year history. What was once an organization governed by a handful of members is now an organization that seeks to actively incorporate the voices of as many of these members as possible in the decision making process. What was once an organization working to make do with one paid position and an office housed by the Deaf community, first at NAD and later at Gallaudet University, is now an organization housed in its own building and run by both national office staff and the national board of directors. It is critical to ensuring that RID remains “green” – and makes the most efficient use of the resources at its disposal.

Those in the national office and on the board of directors continually work to improve the efficiency of this relationship. The board realizes, however, that this relationship could be even more “green” if members had more information about how the national office and board work in tandem to provide support to members. This relationship is often talked about in associations as the difference between “governance” and “operations.”

Generally speaking, the board of directors is responsible for the governance of the organization and the national office is responsible for the operations. It may be helpful to think about governance as the “big picture” – governance includes ensuring that RID remains faithful to its guiding documents (philosophy, mission, goal and diversity statements) and compliant with relevant federal and state laws and regulations. Governance also includes setting the organization’s priorities and course and helping to shape its strategies, plans and decisions. Through interaction with members, the board keeps one foot in the here and now, yet looks forward to meeting the future needs of the association. Members of the board are certified members of the association who volunteer their time toward the governance of the organization.

The operations side of RID is the purview of those in the national office, under the direction of the executive director, Clay Nettles. Operations can be thought of as the daily functions that keep the organization on its feet. The nuts and bolts of testing, certification, finance, membership, publications, communications and education all fall under the operations of RID. The staff working in the national office are experts in the field of association management and function in a paid capacity.

Looking at the relationship between the national office and the board of directors, one can see that the leaders elected to the board guide those in the national office to carry out the will of membership in creating it’s ideal vision for RID. The work done at the national office – or the operations of RID is accomplished only through constant communication between the board and the national office staff.

One of the ways in which the will of the membership is carried out, that serves as a framework for continual communication, is through the establishment of our Strategic Plan. Much has been shared over the past year about RID’s Strategic Plan. What is important in terms of running a “green” or efficient organization is that there is a broad understanding that this is one of the resources at our disposal. The strategic plan is a statement of the big picture, or governance, as laid out by the board of directors with input from the national office. And, it also serves as a template for operations so that the staff in the national office can put the big picture into everyday practice.

For example, one of the Strategic Challenges outlined in the March 2008 President’s column of the VIEWS is to “Clearly define membership, voting and credential categories while addressing the underlying membership and certification connected issues.” This strategic challenge was crafted in response to member concerns at the 2007 RID National Conference Business meeting. The board of directors established a task force – the Strategic Challenges Bylaws Review Task Force (SCBRTF) – as a means to begin accomplishing this big picture challenge. The SCBRTF is currently in the process of gathering member feedback on their initial work, and with 14,000+ members this is no small feat! Once the member input process is complete, the task force will finalize their recommendations; these recommendations will go back to the board and the membership for final review. Recommendations that are adopted will then go to the national office – or the operations side of the organization. The national office staff will then take these adopted recommendations and work on the logistics of putting them into place.

In order to keep RID running efficiently, or in a “green” manner, the board of directors and the national office work closely in this manner to ensure that each corner of the garden is cared for in a meticulous manner. Members of RID, through the board, plant the seeds, programs and ideas that will take root and grow; members of the national office tend to these programs to ensure that they continue to grow in a healthy, upright manner.

So What Can Members Do to Contribute to a “Greener” RID?

Keep informed – read the region reports on the RID Web site, the monthly
RID e-NEWS, and the quarterly copies of the VIEWS,

Participate - in local and state events and meetings,

Communicate – with members of the interpreting and Deaf communities
about the vision for the organization and then with leaders about making
that vision a reality,

Spread the word – about how the organization functions, and

Encourage – others to contribute to an efficient and “green” RID!

With member support, RID can continue to function at peak efficiency and ensure support of its 14,000 plus members.

The Views,
Spring 2009,
Vol. 26, #2
, p. 40-41

Thank you, the Views, for the permission to post this article on EcoDeaf.

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