by Robin Russell
The success of the Dumb Friends League is dependent on many factors – key among them are the generosity of donors and the efforts of its team members: the Board of Directors, staff and volunteers. We’re familiar with staff and volunteer roles, but what about the Board of Directors? To better understand their role, I interviewed Board Chairwoman, Amanda Phillips-DeSaverio.
How did you get involved with the Dumb Friends League?
My introduction to the League came through a former colleague who was a DFL board member. This former board member introduced me to Bob Rohde and the team to take a tour and learn more about the invaluable work done here.
The tour was all it took for me to fall in love with the mission of the League to end pet homelessness and animal suffering. I was excited to gain a better understanding of the programs and services DFL has to offer and the impact it makes not only in pets’ lives but also in peoples’ lives.
From there I started the interview process to become a board member and was honored when I was asked to join in October 2015.
What would you like us to know about being Chairwoman of the Board of Directors?
First, it is an honor to have the trust and support of my fellow board members and the executive staff of DFL. I don’t perceive my role as Chairwoman much differently than my role as “just another board member”. I take great pride and accountability for my contribution and the impact it has on others within and outside the organization. As a board, we have the privilege of making decisions on how the League uses its resources to further the mission. You might be interested to know it is also a legal responsibility. Our donors trust us to use the funds they give to do good things, and it is not something we take lightly.
We are very lucky to have Apryl as our President and CEO, along with her executive staff leading the organization. They have tough jobs, and often have to make difficult decisions, but their passion for DFL and its mission are at the core of every decision and recommendation they make.
In addition to our staff, as an organization we are truly blessed to have the support of our community and network of donors and volunteers.
Please define the role of the Board of Directors and its resultant responsibilities.
The role and responsibilities of the Board of Directors are to:
– Determine and support the mission and goals of the Dumb Friend League
– Select and support the CEO and assess his/her performance
– Ensure effective organizational planning
– Ensure adequate resources and raise money
– Exercise fiduciary responsibility and oversight of DFL assets
– Determine, monitor and strengthen the organization’s programs and services
– Enhance the organization’s public standing by advocating its mission and goals to the community
– Ensure legal and ethical integrity and maintain accountability
– Recruit and orient new board members and assess board performance
– Include DFL in our estate plans
Multiple committees carry out tasks and functions related to the responsibilities noted above. Those committees are Finance/Administration, Governance, Development, and Audit. They are comprised of members identified to possess important skills that will allow them to contribute to the overall substance and ultimate recommendations of that committee.
One of our most important responsibilities is to let our donors know how much we appreciate them and their support. We often make personal phone calls or send handwritten notes. I still recall the first time I received a phone call from DFL thanking me for my donation. It certainly left a lasting impression.
How are board members chosen?
It is an honor and privilege to serve on the DFL Board of Directors. We have a disciplined process when it comes to identifying and adding new members to our board.
If a member has someone to recommend, Apryl meets with him or her and gives a tour of the Quebec Street Shelter. If interested in becoming a board member, they are asked to complete a questionnaire about their professional and personal skills. We strive to have a well-rounded board with varying core competencies so that we can be dynamic and thoughtful in the execution of our responsibilities.
The Governance Committee reviews the questionnaire and holds a meeting on whether the person should be put forward for further consideration by the entire board and Apryl.
The personal qualities that make an effective board member are a passion for the DFL mission, integrity, a collaborative mindset, strong communication, solid judgement, motivation and courage in their convictions – just to name a few.
I understand board members aren’t compensated and can’t volunteer in other DFL positions.
Both are true.
Our volunteer work for the League occurs through our board service. We are responsible for determining the mission and strategic direction of the organization. Participating in day to day operations could create undue bias with the potential to impact how we make decisions, which may not result in what’s best for the League’s future.
Is there anything you’d like to say to volunteers?
THANK YOU!! The League would not be able to make the impact it does in our community and animal welfare in general through our mission to end animal suffering without our team of amazing volunteers. The quantity and quality of the work you provide is staggering and appreciated immensely.
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