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Ed Fund Update: Finding the Next Generation of Board Members

Posted by Will Rice (will) on Nov 07 2011 at 5:10 PM
FALL 2011 >>

By Cheryl C. Kagan

Those of us working for and with Americans for Democratic Action and the ADA Education Fund are rightfully proud of our organizations’ long history of progressive leadership.   Our founders and early board members included such liberal icons as Eleanor Roosevelt, John Kenneth Galbraith, Walter Reuther, and Hubert Humprhey.

More recently, our leaders have included groundbreaking pioneers like Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), Barney Frank (D-MA), the late Rep. Jim Jontz (D-IN), and ADA’s current president, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA). 

But effective organizational leadership extends below whoever is on top.  There must be a deep board, full of dedicated and energetic volunteers, ready to donate their time, expertise and financial resources to the organization.  And that board must be continually rejuvenated with fresh members offering fresh enthusiasm and ideas.

Recruiting our organizations’ future leaders is one of the most vital challenges facing ADA and the Ed Fund.  I have been connected with ADA my entire adult life, and am proud to have started an ADA Youth Caucus chapter when I was in college.  Thirty years ago, I was the one of the young leaders ADA needed.

And while I am delighted to still be deeply engaged with both organizations, it’s probably time for me and others who have served for many decades to move aside.  We must make room for new leaders with new ideas about these organizations’ future. We need to ensure that our future is secure by finding new board members in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s who can ensure that ADA and the Ed Fund will thrive in the coming decades.

Who do you know who could serve our agenda well?  Consider geographic, gender, ethnic, and professional diversity in formulating a recommendation.  Also think about the skills we need—fundraising, advocacy, social media, event planning.  Identify people who are well-connected in your community.  We need to find leaders who can reach out to others and bring them into our ADA family.

We can be confident that we will be faced with political and legislative challenges in the years ahead.  Will we be ready?  Can we count on you to help us prepare?

For suggestions on new ADA board members, please contact National Director Michael J. Wilson (mjw@ adaction.org).  For suggestions on new ADA Education Fund board members, please contact me (cheryl@cherylkagan.org).

Cheryl C. Kagan is Executive Director of the ADA Education Fund, and a long-time member of the ADA National Board.