BONUS FEATURE: Demystifying the STC Board

When you hear the term “STC Board”, what comes to mind? A group of mysterious beings sitting around a leather-covered table and shrouded in smoke from afar? STC Director Alisa Bonsignore explains what the Board does.

What the STC Board Does

“In addition to the decision-making and guidance that the board provides as a group, the Directors also serve as liaisons to committees and task forces,” Alisa explains. “We have monthly board meetings online, and two face-to-face meetings: at Summit and a two-day intensive face-to-face meeting at STC headquarters in suburban DC.”

The Board also discusses and debates various topics via email, as well as reviews documents and financials. “It requires a significant amount of engagement, research, and general awareness of the industry as well as trends within the nonprofit space,” Alisa explains. “We’re in an interesting time for membership associations. The model that worked for the Society at its founding 65 years ago is not a model that makes sense today.”

Evolution of STC to Serve its Members

Alisa addresses how STC continues to evolve and serve its members. “In the past year, I’ve been part of a team of committed volunteers who have been looking outside the box to develop new market-driven, innovative approaches that empower our members and give them the resources needed to succeed.” Alisa says. “It’s been incredibly exciting to explore new possibilities that can carry the Society into the future.”

People – Heart of the Matter

Alisa reflects further about an important aspect of serving on the Board – the people who comprise STC at all levels. “I’m incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with some amazing people, and for the broader connections that I’ve made through involvement with committees and communities. STC brings together such an interesting, engaged, and intelligent group of people from a wide range of industries and experiences. That intellectual diversity makes STC vibrant and interesting. The Board is a reflection of that, and I admire the way we work together to approach challenges as a team.”

Misconception #1:  Unapproachable Board

Alisa also addresses a common misconception that the Board seems unapproachable and distant from the members they represent. “I think there’s a misconception that the board is closed-off and not open to suggestions,” Alisa says. “That’s absolutely untrue. I think this stems from people coming to us with ideas or projects that are very near and dear to their hearts, and they become discouraged or offended when we don’t implement them. Oftentimes, these are great ideas!”

Alisa explains why not all ideas are considered. “In an organization like STC, every project requires money and volunteers. We don’t have an abundance of either, and that limits the type and number of projects that we can implement in any given year. But that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad idea!” Alisa explains what members could do to increase their chances of ideas becoming realities. “The best approach is to come to us with not only an idea, but also a leader or team, and ideas for funding.”

Misconception #2:  Lucrative Service

Alisa also addresses another misconception that serving on the board is somehow lucrative. “This is not the case at all,” Alisa says. “While we are eligible to receive a small stipend for Summit and the face-to-face meeting in DC, it doesn’t come close to covering the expenses for either — and some of us don’t feel comfortable taking the stipend at all. In reality, Board service requires a great deal of personal time and personal expense, more than I really anticipated before my first year of service.”

“I think that’s the important thing to know about Board service: it’s not about what you get from being on the Board, it’s about what you think you can give'” Alisa reflects. “It’s absolutely critical to understand that you’re one of nine people, and there isn’t room for personal agendas. This is about doing what’s right for the Society within the constraints that we have around budget, staff, and volunteers. While healthy debate is encouraged, at the end of the day we all have to be working together to row the boat in the same direction.”