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AAE Leads: A Fresh Look at the AAE’s Critically Important Board Transformation Initiative

We have a hunger of the mind which asks for knowledge of all around us.—Maria Mitchell

Last week, I gave a lecture to the residents at the University of Minnesota, and I took a photo with them (and Dr. W. Craig Noblett):

The diversity present within even this small group is evident – from the photograph itself, but also from conversations with each person. They hail from different backgrounds with an abundance of varied experiences and stories. As I looked at this picture, I was more inspired than ever to recharge the AAE’s Board Transformation Initiative discussion.

At the 2021 General Assembly, testimony was provided in support of, and in opposition to, proposed Constitution and Bylaws changes relating to the Board Transformation Initiative Following discussion on the proposed changes, the Assembly voted to refer the initiative for further study, with a report back to the 2022 General Assembly.

Allow me to officially revisit this discussion, as a special committee has formed and will, over the next several months, enlighten you on this important endeavor to ensure you have ample opportunity for input and information going into our 2022 General Assembly on April 29.

As part of its annual self-assessment, the AAE Board has consistently identified board composition and selection as an opportunity for improvement. Board composition relates to the Board’s success in building a board made up of individuals who contribute critically needed skills, experience and perspective to the association. Additionally, this responsibility includes a well-conceived plan to identify and recruit members and cultivate officers, while ensuring that various representational factors are considered.

This objective was referred to the AAE’s Constitution and Bylaws Committee in 2019 for review, with the Committee’s recommended changes approved by the AAE Board of Directors in 2020.

We have a fresh opportunity now with this initiative to exact change that will impact future generations of our specialty and identify several key multi-representational factors for our Board of tomorrow — such as demographic characteristics, education, career stage, practice setting, and geographic location. There are a plethora of other factors to consider as well.

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 an expertise-based system. Our AAE Special Committee on the Board Transformation Initiative is evaluating the possibility of reducing the AAE Board’s size and bringing selection processes in line with leading practices to enhance strategic discussions and the Board’s ability to be nimble in acting on behalf of the specialty.

The recommended changes to Board composition are being developed to align the AAE with leading practices and will enhance the Board’s diversity and efficiency.

Your Board Transformation Initiative: What to Expect Next

We recognize that citing research on high performing boards is not enough. As we continue to develop our governance, we want to emphasize that your voice counts when it comes to shaping our Board Transformation Initiative – this is your Board Transformation Initiative. Allow me to share a brief timeline of what’s next:

September 2021 – Survey: We will gather members’ input to help inform our proposed plan.

November/December  2021 – Town Hall Meeting: We will gather virtually and have an open forum with meaningful discussion. Members will have two opportunities to participate during  Town Hall Meetings on the evenings of November 30 and December 14.

February 2022 – Proposed Bylaws changes will officially be shared with members.

April 2022 – The General Assembly, and a vote on proposed Constitution and Bylaw changes, will take place during AAE22.

As you consider what the Board Transformation Initiative means to you, you will likely have questions — and that’s a good thing. Please direct those to and we’ll respond as soon as possible.

Our strategic planning meeting takes place this month, and one thing is certain: as an Association, we must remain forward-thinking.  It is imperative that our membership remains engaged when it comes to this important topic of Board transformation. Please take the time to get to know our initiative and share your feedback. I look forward to seeing you at the next General Assembly!