Free Geek's governance structure was shifted in accordance with the 2011 governance proposal, constructed by the Governance Advisory Study Group and approved by both council and board in April 2011. As of October 2011, the transition is ongoing, so some of this may not yet be fully descriptive.
The division of authority between the board and the staff is envisioned as a division between strategic and operational realms, with the board being in charge of strategic decision making and the staff in charge of operational decisions.
Free Geek's board consists of members elected by core volunteers (volunteer representatives) and other people appointed by the board to represent interests and skills we consider desirable. There will also be one liaison each from collective and noncollective staff, who are not board members but paid participants. Apart from this, the status quo remains in effect (for example, the board is assumed to still make decisions via Formal Consensus) until and unless the board decides to change these policies.
The board will develop clear guidelines and procedures for their operations, and policies regarding board discipline.
The board will meet monthly.
The town hall meeting
Free Geek will have a regular (at least annual) large, structured, facilitated event for volunteers, staff, and board to fulfill the following functions:
- elect core volunteer board seats
- increase FG volunteer community's familiarity with board members and function, other volunteers, staff
- provide a framework for volunteers to be involved in the vision generation piece of strategic planning.
Both candidates to represent core volunteers and those eligible to participate in selecting them will be core volunteers, who have donated 30 hours of volunteer work in the last year. The board will be responsible for seeing that this event is appropriately planned and that community input generated at these meetings is integrated into the organization's plans for the future.
Selection and Recruitment
At all times, the board is directed to strive for balance among the categories (volunteers, clients, skills, interests), with at least 25% elected volunteers. The remaining seats will be selected by the board as a whole. As noted above, most of the status quo will remain, for example the staggered 2-year terms specified in the bylaws.
Role descriptions will be developed to assist in filling board member positions -- a general description for all members, and specific descriptions for individual seats. These role descriptions are subject to revision as the board sees fit.
The staff collective and the non-collective staff groups select their own liaisons to the board.
Recruitment of other board members will be the purview of the board's nomination committee, which may consist of whoever the board selects.
Responsibilities and communications
The job descriptions mentioned above will clarify many of the responsibilities of board members. Some materials for these descriptions may be pulled from the existing Bylaws, New Director Agreement, and Conflict of Interest Policy. The roles of board officers will also be more codified to ensure better record-keeping and agenda-planning.
In addition, it is the responsibility of the board to define goals for the organization that meet SMART criteria (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound). This will make feedback/reporting both easier and more useful.
It is the board's responsibility to maintain an agenda that addresses organizational issues and goals, and to make that agenda widely available in a timely manner. Directors will have the right to request information from staff and expect a timely response. Staff have the responsibility to respond reasonably and in a timely manner to such requests.
It is the right and responsibility of board members to receive ongoing training in relevant skills and areas of knowledge.
The organization is responsible for providing ongoing training to board members in the relevant skills and areas of knowledge. The directors are responsible for engaging in the aforementioned training.
As currently, the board meetings will be open to the community except for discussions of certain issues that need to be closed due to legal and confidentiality reasons. When this occurs, there will be a clearly stated reason for closing that segment of the meeting and/or redacting minutes. It is the board's responsibility to make minutes available widely, and to balance the integrity of sensitive information with transparency.