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AAE Board Transformation Initiative

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The Board Transformation Initiative is the AAE's critically important plan to increase the diversity and inclusion, as well as enhance the efficiency, of AAE’s Board, which has been proven possible after a great deal of research and insight into high-performing boards.

Changes to the AAE Constitution and Bylaws, as outlined here, will be voted on during the General Assembly at AAE21. Access to the General Assembly is included in AAE21 registrations for all AAE members, and access to the voting system will be granted to registered voting members. 

Background

Over the past several years, the AAE Board has dedicated considerable effort to examining its composition, and processes by which leaders are identified and developed.

The AAE’s Board has long endeavored to introduce more diversity. In November 2019, the Board approved moving forward with utilizing Association Management Center (AMC) as consultants to lead the AAE through its Board Transformation Initiative. AMC provided the association with recognized top experts in association governance with first-hand knowledge of leading research on board composition practices. The Constitution and Bylaws Committee was assigned to this project and asked to bring a recommended structure to the Board for consideration. The approach utilized throughout the project considered leading practices while maintaining sensitivity to the culture of the AAE.

Methodology included a thorough review of AAE governance practices; interviews and surveys with key stakeholders, including current and past leaders of the organization as well as members from each District who have been engaged in the AAE’s governance processes; and consideration of leading practices of high-performing boards as identified in the broader research on this topic.

A foundational decision of the committee was that in order to build an efficient and diverse board, the AAE must streamline the size of its Board and move towards the leading practice of considering diversity elements in selecting Board members. These diversity elements include gender, years in practice, race, ethnicity, practice type, geographical location, as well as specific skills and abilities possessed by the individual – for example, financial acumen, strategic planning, ambassadorship.

Dive into the Board Transformation Initiative with Drs. Alan Gluskin and Alan Law on the Endo Voices Podcast.

Overview + Rationale

The AAE Board reviewed and approved the committee’s recommendation at its 2020 Interim Meeting. These changes will be presented to the 2021 General Assembly for a vote.

The following is an overview and rationale explaining the importance of pursuing these changes.

Increased diversity and better membership representation is critically needed on the AAE Board.

This is a long-held conviction of our Board. As part of its annual self-assessment, the AAE Board consistently identified board composition as an opportunity for improvement. It became clear that the only clear path to achieving and sustaining greater diversity, in its many different forms, is to transform the very manner by which our Board is composed.

Board composition relates to the Board’s success in building a board made up of individuals who truly represent the membership and contribute critically needed skills, experience and perspective to the association. Additionally, this responsibility includes a well-conceived plan to help the board identify and recruit members and cultivate officers, while examining and addressing gaps in areas of diversity such as expertise, race, ethnicity, age, and gender. The AAE Board desires to introduce more diversity on the Board. The AAE firmly believes that increasing diversity will strengthen the AAE Board and result in all members feeling that their perspectives and experiences are represented by the leadership.

The AAE Board can enhance its efficiency through structural changes.

The high-performance board, like the high-performance team, is diverse, competent, collegial and focused. Such entities do not simply evolve; they must be constructed. This is why we have taken the time to put forth a detailed and carefully considered plan that ensures heightened Board diversity and efficiency, and sets the AAE up for success – for the long run.

Research has shown that high performing boards average 15 members in size, and the method in which members of high performing boards are selected has shifted from a popular vote system to a an expertise-based system. Reducing the AAE Board’s size will enhance strategic discussions and the Board’s ability to be nimble in acting on behalf of the specialty.

The AAE Board reviewed and approved the committee’s recommendations at its 2020 Interim Meeting. These changes will be presented to the 2021 General Assembly for a vote.

Our Proposed Plan

The Board recognizes that the seven AAE regional districts have a historical importance, but that geographic location has become just one of many representational factors of importance to be considered when building a Board that represents the specialty as a whole. Further, how geography is categorized (states or urban vs. rural) may differ in relevance today when compared to the environment at the time the association’s original structure was developed.

The Board recommends a transition from a geographical representation of district directors to an entirely at-large director structure, with a total of nine directors selected based on demographic and skill-based diversity factors. Geography will be one of the diversity factors considered.

The AAE Board believes that these recommended changes will improve the AAE Board’s composition by streamlining its size and formally ensuring diversity of demographics and skills. The recommended changes apply leading practices to the organization’s governance structure and leadership development approach. They also position us as a forward-thinking and high performing board – in short, best-in-class.

The General Assembly is asked to approve the  recommended changes to the AAE Constitution and Bylaws.

It is advisable to see the Recommended AAE Board Composition and Selection below for a full summary of the proposed changes. The AAE will publish the proposed amendments to the Constitution and Bylaws in February 2021.

A detailed transition plan has been developed. Of note, Districts that are due to select directors for terms beginning in 2022 will conduct their regular nomination processes. The remaining structural changes will be phased in as current terms end, and 2025-2026 will be the first year with a fully re-formed Board in line with the new recommended structure.

Members with additional questions about this initiative may contact governance@aae.org.

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