President’s Report: December 2018

by Tom Doe, Board President

I am writing this as I am a plane returning from a business trip in the Bay Area. Last night I stayed near the Sacramento airport, and I had a chance to chat with the shuttle driver. She was describing how the hotel had been accommodating many displaced people from the California wild fires, being only an hour’s drive south of Chino, which is the largest town close to the Camp Fire. Somehow, I had imagined climate change affecting habitat in a more gradual way, but the past two years of smoky Augusts in the Pacific Northwest shows that the process may be more sudden and catastrophic. We are fortunate to have a strong base of interest and activity in this issue within our church and I hope we will see that grow in response to the issue’s increased urgency.

As to Board matters, it is with much regret that I share the news that Uzma Butte has left the Board to focus her volunteer time on social justice issues outside of ESUC. On behalf of the Board I would like to thank Uzma for her service and especially for stepping in as vice-president and, for a time, acting president last Spring. Uzma’s departure opens an at-large position on the Board. Under our bylaws, the Board has the responsibility for filling positions that open mid-term. There is no set process for how the Board does this, and we will be discussing this topic at both the executive committee and the full Board meetings in December. I have asked for volunteers from the Board to take on this task. I expect we will be working with Connie Hirnle, the Nominating Committee chair, as well as with the Beloved Racial Justice group, as a very important consideration in filling this position will be increasing the diversity on the Board. In addition to the open position, Connie will be leading a discussion on the nominating process over the upcoming months. The Board welcomes any suggestions for both the process and for potential candidate names (self nomination is encouraged!). I hope to be voting on the position at our January Board meeting.

The focus of the November Board meeting was a presentation from the Right Relations Board task force. The Board has been using its own budget funds to support Pam Orbach, our restorative justice consultant, in her work with that task force. Pam’s work using talking circles has received very positive reviews from the Beloved Racial Justice and Right Relations groups, and the Board heard a proposal to expand her scope and funding to include talking circles with the Board. This proposal will be under discussion at the Board’s December meeting.

December Board Meeting Announcement and Preliminary Agenda

The December meeting of the Board of Trustees will be held in the North room at 7:00 p.m. on December 18. All members and friends are welcome to attend. The agenda for the December Board meeting will include several important issues. We will have a report from the Nominating Committee on their calendar for developing the Board and Nominating Committee slates for the June congregational meeting, and we will also discuss our process for filling the current open board position. While our bylaws give the responsibility for fulfilling open positions the middle of terms to the Board, we are soliciting the help of the Nominating Committee and expect to reach out further to use this as an opportunity to expand the Board’s diversity. If you have an interest, please contact any Board member. We hope to fill that position by the January Board meeting. At the November meeting, the Right Relations Committee made a proposal to continue Pam Orbach’s work at a cost of $20k on an expanded hours retainer basis. The Board will be voting on that proposal. The Board will be having discussions on strategizing our newly adopted goals and assigning responsibilities for their fulfillment.The Holly House Task Force will be on the agenda to discuss a timeline for reaching a congregational meeting and vote by the end of the first quarter. The Board will be deliberating and likely deciding in January about whether or not the Board will take a position and make a recommendation on the Holly House vote.

As president, I apologize for being remiss in not publicizing in a timely manner our monthly board meetings and their agendas. With this communication I hope to correct that deficiency, and I plan to continue doing this on a monthly basis. Additional topics are welcome. The final agenda may deviate from what I’ve described above, but I hope not significantly.