Summit Reporting from the Global Voices Board

The Global Voices board responds to questions at the 2017 Community meeting. Photo: Jer Clarke, published under a CC-BY license.

One of the sessions we held at GV Summit Community Meeting in Sri Lanka was a large group discussion with our board members. Our goal was to remind the community of the role and obligations of the board in plain language, and to provide an opportunity for people to comment and ask questions.

The work of a board can be dry and legalistic, but we feel it's important to unpack its functions as best we can. That’s what I’ll be trying to do in this post!

During the session we touched on many topics, but as with many of the Summit sessions, we didn’t have nearly enough time to cover everything we could have. After the Summit, we compiled questions from the board session and the “Ask the Core Team” session, and over the coming weeks and months we're aiming to provide comprehensive answers in a series of Community blog posts, and also update the Global Voices Guide where necessary.

Of the many questions we've received, most fall into a couple of large categories:

  • Board governance: what the board does, and what authority it has
  • Strategic: how we decide the vision and direction of Global Voices
  • Financial: how we find and allocate funds, and how we share information about our finances
  • Programmatic: how we set priorities and design projects and sections
  • Editorial: how we decide what what topics to cover, what languages to work in, and how we organize editorial workflow
  • Personnel: how we decide which categories of work needs to be paid and how we make hiring decisions

For starters, here's a brief review on the board's governance functions:

The primary responsibility of the Global Voices board is to meet four times per year and record its discussions in official minutes. After each board meeting, we  share a public version of those minutes on our community lists, in order to make our board processes and activities as visible and as public as possible.The meeting minutes we share with the community include everything we've discussed in the meeting, except for sensitive information such as safety and security, some personnel matters, some financial information, and details of the board's executive session. Board meetings are attended by the nine board representatives, and the managing and executive directors. You can find the community board minutes from the Summit board meeting in the attached PDF.

The main functions of the board are:

  • to meet quarterly
  • to review annual budgets and quarterly and annual expenditures
  • to set pay rates for the executive director and managing director and review pay rates and processes for others
  • to authorize, to review and approve an annual audit
  • to discuss, support and help set strategic direction for the organization
  • to provide contacts, ideas and review of fundraising processes
  • to review and confirm that Global Voices policies, procedures, certifications and legal status conforms with relevant laws and regulations
  • to renew itself through appointment of other board members, including overseeing the election of community representatives to the board

The board is currently comprised of two permanent members, Global Voices founders Rebecca MacKinnon and Ethan Zuckerman; three elected community representatives, currently Annie Zaman, Laura Vidal and Marianne Diaz Hernandez; and four appointed members, currently Sue Gardner, Miguel Paz, James Deane and our chair, Mohamed Nanabhay.

Community representative are always available to respond to questions, and to present ideas, questions or concerns to the board. Please reach out—we're here to help!

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