A Board Member’s Perspective on Building a Network
This blog is a part of our monthly Board Member series.
I’m sitting down to write this having just wrapped up our most recent executive committee conference call, the first after our YNPN board retreat in Baltimore late last month. At that retreat, we came to terms with what it means for YNPN --now and in the future-- to be a network, and not an association. Or, since every movement has elements of both, what it means to be more like a network and less like an association.
Like most executive committees, our role is to synthesize and prioritize all the issues facing the organization so that the full board can act effectively and efficiently. Maybe it’s because I haven’t had lunch yet, but to me, the challenge before us now is about spicing up our work, in big ways and small, with more network ingredients and fewer association ingredients. Providing a platform for connecting chapters? Keep that in. Programming for members? Leave it out; the chapters have that handled. Questions like “how can we make financial decisions that affect a network as a network?” will have to be answered. And even more questions will come up: “if we can spend resources as a network, what does that mean for building up more resources as a network?”
"In building a network, as with cooking, it's easy to get lost in the process and forget about the amazing meal you're going to enjoy when you're done."
If these questions and answers are the ingredients, then the affiliation agreement that we’ve been creating and refining with chapter leaders is our YNPN recipe, it’s the framework that guides us and lets us know who is adding the ingredients, and when. And where is Chapter Congress in all this? It’s our test kitchen. It’s where we build the next recipe, pick out the best ingredients for our network.
In building a network, as with cooking, it’s easy to get lost in the process and forget about the amazing meal you’re going to enjoy when you’re done. So it’s good to take moments like these, after talking through the details of building a network, to remember all the things a living, breathing network can accomplish once the ingredients are in place. The one thing that’s easiest to forget as we talk website development and lawyer fees and the odyssey that is updating the signers on our bank account, and as chapters talk space rental and sign-in sheets and speakers, is that what we’re cooking here (last time, I promise) is meant to make the communities we live, work, and play in better. And there aren’t too many networks or associations that have the potential to do what we’re going to do. But first, lunch.
Kari Mirkin is the Treasurer of the YNPN Board of Directors and co-founder of the YNPN Cleveland Chapter. She is a native of Youngstown, Ohio and lifelong history buff and museum junkie, has a passion for discovering innovative solutions to the challenges facing organizations that provide public access to education, the arts, and other historical and cultural assets. Read more about Kari's background here.