The “Tone at the Top”

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dawn mancusoI want to share with the hydrocephalus community how excited I am right now. We recently completed our first meeting of the Hydrocephalus Association’s board of directors for 2013, and I am so proud to report that our board consists of a group of dedicated individuals who are unequivocally engaged and committed to meeting our mission – to eliminate the challenges of hydrocephalus.

This meeting is a great case in point:

  • All 17 board members participated in the meeting. You might say this isn’t extraordinary – that the job of a board member is to attend meetings. You would be right. When you consider, however, just how jam-packed our lives all are, that board members come from all parts of the United States, and add to that the possibility that anyone, at any time, could have a member of their family experiencing a complication related to their health, then having 100% attendance at a meeting is certainly a palpable marker of the individual and collective dedication found among our board members. (Of note: two board members even participated in the entire 6-1/2 hour meeting via speaker phone!)
  • Two outstanding individuals joined our board for the first time: Cliff Goldman from Roslyn, New York, and Shannon O’Connor, from Centennial, Colorado. We will be sharing more in-depth introductions to Cliff and Shannon in future blogs, but we are thrilled to have both of these smart, enterprising and passionate people joining our leadership team!
  • Prior to the board meeting, we started off with a formal new board member orientation program, followed by an Open House for all board members and the local community here at HA headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland. This was a marvelous way to provide an opportunity for our local members to get to know the directors and staff, and to engage everyone in informal dialogue about the organization.
  • The agenda for this board meeting featured the start of a strategic dialogue among the board members identifying and prioritizing the key challenges facing the association in the next 3 – 5 years. Our current Strategic Plan, which was developed and approved in 2009, covers the 5 year time period from 2009 – 2013. Thus, the board has started the process of developing a revised plan for 2014 and beyond. We will be sharing more very soon about the process being used, the opportunities for member input into that plan, and the goals to be developed. For now, we came away with lots of great ideas for avenues to explore and issues to address, thanks to the engaging and focused work of the board members.
  • As part of this strategic discussion, we posted a message on Facebook during the meeting, asking members of our community what they would like the board to be thinking about. We received quite a few responses that were shared with the board in real-time. As a result, we were able to factor these ideas into the discussions on the spot. Thanks to all who participated by sending us your thoughts! If you missed this Facebook post, do not worry…there will be other opportunities in the coming months to provide your input as well!

Business management textbooks talk a lot about how the “tone at the top” sets the culture for an organization. If this is true, than I am very proud to work for an organization where the board takes its role seriously while constantly seeking feedback from the membership in order to assure that we are all moving in the right direction.

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