Board and Staff Responsibilities
Welcome to the Collections Caretaker e-Newsletter from Northern States Conservation Center. The newsletter is designed to bring you timely and helpful content that is pertinent to situations we all encounter in our museum and archives work. Feel free to let us know what topics you would like to see featured in Collections Caretaker or even contribute an article.
In This Issue

The Roles and Responsibilities of the Board Chair and Executive Director
Featured Courses
May 2018 Online Courses
June 2018 Online Courses
Workshops
Conferences and Meetings
The Roles and Responsibilities of the Board Chair and Executive Director
By Joan Garry
 
In most companies, there is a hierarchy of power. Typically, the CEO is at the top and it goes down from there.
 
Nonprofits are different. There are a lot of power centers. The board. The staff. Donors. Volunteers. Clients. Constituents. And on and on.
 
Yes, the board does have the ability to hire and fire the CEO or Executive Director. But the best run nonprofits run like a twin-engine jet with the ED and board chair acting as co-pilots. Leadership is shared.
 
But that doesn't mean all decisions get made in tandem. There are certain things the ED must handle and other things that are the purview of the board chair.
 
Today, I'm going to break it all down for you:
  1. The responsibilities of the Executive Director
  2. The responsibilities of the board chair
  3. The grey area where the two need to work together
 
Here we go...
FIRST, DOWNLOAD THE OVERVIEW
Before we dive into the details, for your convenience I've created a one-page overview of the roles of the board chair and Executive Director. My hope is that you'll review it ­together at your next board meeting to help you get on the same page - and stay there.

Provide your email address and I'll send it to your inbox with the subject line "Roles and Responsibilities."
 
WHEN IS THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR IN CHARGE?
There are three key buckets into which E.D. decisions fall. The key words are: hiring, evaluating, managing, operationalizing. These are the places where the Executive Director should be running the show. And if the board chair is stepping into these places, she has overstepped her bounds. She is micromanaging. She risks demoralizing the Executive Director.
 
The board chair needs to keep an eye on all of it, communicate regularly, and file away observations and assessments about HOW the E.D. is handling these responsibilities in order to provide a detailed evaluation with lots of examples.
 
1) The Staff: Hiring, Management, and Supervision
Listen up board chairs: Who gets hired, how they are managed and evaluated, and whether they stay or go is the job of the E.D. Full stop.
 
What if a Board Chair sees that the E.D. has made a terrible hiring mistake or a staff member is going rogue?
 
Can she raise a concern? You bet.
 
Can she direct the E.D. to fire that person? Nope.
 
2) Managing to the Budget
The Executive Director needs to understand both the macro (what the numbers mean, trends, etc.) and has to manage the weeds.
 
The E.D. has to be on top of the numbers all the time. Even if there is a Director of Finance, your staff leader should understand what the numbers are saying, needs to be able to anticipate challenges, communicate them in a timely fashion, and in a way that all board members can understand.
 
3) Bring the Strategic Plan to Life
The Executive Director needs to develop and execute a set of annual goals aligned with the strategic plan, especially around program design, execution and success.
 
A presentation to the board at the start of each year and an explanation of how these goals will help achieve the overall goals of the plan are essential. Then the work, the "how," the operationalizing of these goals, sits with the Executive Director.
 
WHEN IS THE BOARD CHAIR IN CHARGE?
The four key items listed below are led by the board chair and often, by virtue of regular communications with the E.D., the chair has the greatest amount of information and context to add.
 
1) Hiring and Evaluating The Executive Director
Board chairs can often have a tendency to swoop in and supervise rather than provide oversight or just simply assess as the year progresses. But "swooping" is a problem because it gives the board little opportunity to evaluate the E.D.'s performance fairly.
 
2) Approving Strategy
The board chair must ensure that there is a solid process in place and lead the board to approve a strategy that makes sense and can be owned and championed by all leaders in the organization.
 
3) Approving Annual Budget
While certainly not the sole responsibility of the chair, the chair must provide clear direction to the Finance Committee to create a process with integrity and to be sure that board members have what they need to make an informed decision as they vote.
 
4) Building a Strong and Accountable Board
The board chair is the coach of the board team. She is responsible for making sure that everyone plays by the rules and must hold each board member accountable to the vast array of responsibilities they have - from meeting attendance, to committee service, to fundraising.

In that spirit, the board chair is responsible for providing oversight to ensure a high performing governance function that evaluates board member performance and also identifies and recruits high quality board members.
 
HERE'S WHERE THE TROUBLE STARTS
So I've just identified the big things that are very clearly in one court or the other. Now I will say something that may annoy you:
 
Thought partners share and talk a lot before one or the other makes a decision that is rightfully theirs to make. This can easily turn black and white into gray.
 
For example:
Executive Director: I'm having a hard time with Sarah. I really think it might be time to let her go.
 
Board Chair Thought Balloon: WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN WAITING FOR? SARAH IS INCOMPETENT AND SCORCHING THE EARTH!
 
Mature Board Chair Response: I have seen some evidence that she is a challenge. Happy to offer some input here if you like. What do you need?
 
E.D. Thought Balloon: I really want to know but I sure don't want my board chair in my staffing decisions.
 
Mature E.D. Response: Thanks. Your input would be helpful as I make a decision.
 
In this scenario, the mature Executive Director has alerted the co-pilot (the board chair) that she sees the storm ahead. The mature board chair has validated it and offered to be of help. The mature E.D. makes it clear that the decision is hers and that input would be of value.
 
The two of you need to approach BLACK & WHITE roles in just this way. Using words like "How can I be of help?" " Would you like some input" "I'm struggling and interested in your point of view as I decide what path to take."
 
Start practicing this kind of language. It is the language of co-pilots, the language of partners.
 
But there are still a few things that aren't quite so black and white...
 
THE REAL HONEST-TO-GOODNESS GRAY AREAS
There are four places where the roles aren't so clear. Where the decision making is way more joint that it is separate.
 
1) Board Composition
Stay with my airplane metaphor. Each co-pilot needs to care about both engines and the E.D. has to be engaged in the board engine in terms of defining the skills, attributes, and competencies that are most needed for the organization to thrive. No discussion of the ideal board should ever happen without the voice of the E.D. at the table.
 
2) Finding Great Board Members
Once you have built the model for your ideal board and have identified the gaps, the E.D. may in fact be your very best source of prospects and should be at the table regularly. In fact, the E.D. should have as close to a vote as you can get.
 
I used to frame it in the converse, talking about a kind of veto power. I could say something like, "I really can't live with that candidate because..." and the board trusted and respected my point of view. It's important that I made statements like these infrequently, reserving them for when I felt particularly strongly. But the truth is because I was an active part of the process all along the way, I hardly remember it ever coming to that.
 
3) Strategy Development
I'm working with a client now that has hit a difficult fork in the road. There seems to be two possible strategies to viability. The board chair and the E.D. are grappling with the fact that neither of them can live with one of the strategies. And the board has asked to review two budgets and will make a decision that will set the strategy in one of these two directions.
 
They are struggling - individually and as co-pilots.
 
Yes the planning process has been flawed here for sure. But my point is that the E.D. and the board chair must be completely in sync. They are flying in a bad storm and they need to be on the same page. They have turned to me to help them navigate together.
 
Strategy defines the organization in a profound way and in this endeavor, the E.D. and the board chair must work as partners. Because they lead together.
 
4) Board Engagement / Board Meetings
Board meetings are not a "necessary evil." Not at all.
 
I see them as an organization's best opportunity to enrich, inform, and engage board members so that they are ignited to invite folks to know and do more for your organization.
 
It is not just a meeting. It must be designed with intention to meet the bar I have just set.
 
And it must be more than a collection of business items. And that demands that the co-pilots plan it together. What do we want to accomplish? What does the board need? What does the board need to do? What does it need from the staff to deliver? What is the staff able to deliver?
 
This is the work of partners.
 
And so I hope this clarifies the roles of the staff and board leaders. It's a lack of clarity on this that makes too many nonprofits less effective than they could be. The relationship between the board chair and CEO is critical. In fact, I often say that relationship is the single most critical sign of a healthy nonprofit.

Joan Garry works with nonprofit leaders, assisting with crisis management, executive coaching and the building of strong management teams to support the work of the CEO. She also teaches nonprofit media strategy as a professor at the  Annenberg School for Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, and is a blogger for  The Huffington Post. For more information visit her website at https://www.joangarry.com/. Reprinted with permission.
Featured Course: Care of Furniture and Wood Artifacts

Caring for furniture and wood artifacts demands an understanding of how and
why wood deteriorates. This course offers a simplified explanation of the chemistry and structure of wood as well as the finished wooden object; be it either a totem pole, plow or a French polished table. Care of Furniture and Wood Artifacts teaches students to identify woods, finishes and furniture styles, write condition reports, and understand the agents of deterioration that are harmful to wood both in storage and on exhibit. Topics include preparing wood artifacts for storage and exhibit, the use of archival materials with wood artifacts, housekeeping techniques for furniture and large objects on open display, basic repairs and three dimensional supports for storage or exhibit.

Most of us have wooden artifacts in our collections.  Do you need some assistance to properly care for them?  This class is for you! Join Diana Komejan for MS226: Care of Furniture and Wood Artifacts starting May 7, 2018. 
Featured Course: Care of Photographs

Photographic materials cover a diverse range, everything from the
daguerreotypes and wet plate negatives of the 19th century to the gelatin silver, chromogenic and inkjet prints of the 20th and now 21st century. Care of Photographs offers a broad introduction to the history, technology, identification, and care of these and other photographic materials. Topics include environmental monitoring, the effects of temperature and relative humidity, and the importance of cold storage for certain photographic materials. It is intended to help those caring for photographic materials to gain a better understanding of their collections and how to care for them.

Want to learn more about your photographs?  Join Gawain Weaver for  MS222: Care of Photographs starting June 18, 2018. 
Early Bird Discounts Available for Full Length Courses
 
An Early Bird Discount is available for anyone who signs up for a full length course from museumclasses.org 30 days prior to the start of that course.  
 
Sign up for a full length course up to 30 days prior to its start and save $100.00!
 
For our course list or to sign up: http://www.collectioncare.org/course-list  
 
To take advantage of this discount, you must enter coupon code EARLYBIRD at checkout at collectioncare.org
 
The Early Bird Discount deadline for June courses is May 19, 2018   
May 2018 Courses
 
May 7 to 18, 2018
Instructor:  Karin Hostetter
Description:
Self-guided brochures, exhibit labels, docent led tours, guest speakers, and audio tours are only a few of the methods available to guide visitors through an exhibit. Explore the strengths and challenges of many different methods and garner resources for further information. Learn how to determine which method works best with which exhibits and how to provide variety to enhance the visitor experience.
 
May 7 to June 15, 2018
Instructor:  Ernest Conrad
Description:
The museum's brick exterior wall is crumbling. The powder coated metal storage shelves have active rust under the foam padding. Objects in fur storage are covered in mold. It is raining in the exhibit hall. This is the damage that occurs to museum buildings or collection when staff do not understand preservation environments. Preservation Environments is essential knowledge for any collecting institution. Everyone should understand how humidity and temperature are controlled by a building and its mechanical system. For museum staff considering a new building - and any institution planning to expand or rebuild an existing one - Preservation Environments provide important information for calculating whether the proposed improvements will actually improve the environmental control of your protective enclosure. Participants learn the advantages and disadvantages of numerous methods of temperature and humidity control. Preservation Environments does not try to turn museum professionals into engineers. Rather, it arms them with the knowledge they need to work with engineers and maintenance professionals. And helps explain why damaged occurred and how to keep it from happening again.
 
May 7 to June 1, 2018
Instructor:  Ann Coppinger
Description:
Caring for textiles demands an understanding of how and why they deteriorate. This course offers a simplified explanation of the origin and structure of textile fibers as well as the finished textile object; be it either a piece of whole cloth or a finished garment. Care of Textiles teaches students to identify fibers, fabric structures and finishes, write condition reports, and understand the agents of deterioration that are harmful to various fabrics both in storage on exhibit. Topics include preparing textiles for storage and exhibit, the use of archival materials with textiles, and three dimensional supports.
 
May 7 to June 1, 2018
Instructor:  Diana Komejan
Description:
Caring for furniture and wood artifacts demands an understanding of how and why wood deteriorates. This course offers a simplified explanation of the chemistry and structure of wood as well as the finished wooden object; be it either a totem pole, plow or a French polished table. Care of Furniture and Wood Artifacts teaches students to identify woods, finishes and furniture styles, write condition reports, and understand the agents of deterioration that are harmful to wood both in storage and on exhibit. Topics include preparing wood artifacts for storage and exhibit, the use of archival materials with wood artifacts, housekeeping techniques for furniture and large objects on open display, basic repairs and three dimensional supports for storage or exhibit.
 
May 7 to June 1, 2018
Instructor:  Jennifer Edwards
Description:
Archives include flat paper, photographs, bound pamphlets, books, small 3-dimensional objects, and magnetic media. The Archives Management course covers an introduction to the materials found in archives and typical use of these materials including use patterns, retrieval needs, finding aids, handling and exhibition. The last half of the course details optimum storage options for archival materials. Storage includes furniture, storage techniques, standardized and specialized housing such as folders and boxes and custom-made housings.
 
 
June 2018 Courses
 
June 18 to August 3, 2018
Instructor:  Gawain Weaver
Description:
Photographic materials cover a diverse range, everything from the daguerreotypes and wet plate negatives of the 19th century to the gelatin silver, chromogenic and inkjet prints of the 20th and now 21st century. Care of Photographs offers a broad introduction to the history, technology, identification, and care of these and other photographic materials. Topics include environmental monitoring, the effects of temperature and relative humidity, and the importance of cold storage for certain photographic materials. It is intended to help those caring for photographic materials to gain a better understanding of their collections and how to care for them.
Workshops

FREE WORKSHOP!  "How to Build a Thriving Nonprofit"
Joan Garry Consulting has a free workshop coming up starting on 
April 17. Learn more at www.thrivingnonprofit.org

Care and ID of Photographs

UCLA Library Special Collections, Los Angeles, CA
May 21-24, 2018
Presented by Gawain Weaver, Photograph Conservator
Conferences and Meetings
 
2018  
Texas Association of Museums, Houston, TX
April 18-21, 2018
 
Museum Store Association, Washington, DC
April 27 to 30, 2018
 
American Alliance of Museums, Phoenix, AZ
May 6-9, 2018
   
AAMG & UMAC Conference 2018, Miami, FL
June 21-24, 2018
 
 
Association of Midwest Museums, Chicago, IL
July 18-21, 2018
 
Society of American Archivists, Washington, DC
August 12-18, 2018
 
Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, Dunedin, New Zealand
August 25-September 2, 2018 

Mountain-Plains Museums Association, Billings, MT
September 11-September 15, 2018
 
 
Oklahoma Museums Association, Edmond, OK
September 19-21, 2018
 

 
   
American Association of State and Local History, Kansas City, MO 
September 26-29, 2018  
 
Southeastern Museums Conference, 2018 Annual Meeting, Jackson, MS
October 8-10, 2018
 
 
International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection, Hearst Castle in San Simeon, CA
October 13-17, 2018 
 
Western Museums Association, Tacoma, WA
October 21-24, 2018 
 
New England Museum Association, Stamford, CT
November 7-9, 2018
 
National Association for Interpretation,  
New Orleans, LA
November 27-December 1, 2018
 
2019  
National Association for Interpretation, Denver, Colorado
November 12-16, 2019

2020
National Association for Interpretation,
Saint Augustine, FL
November 10-14, 2020
 


Submissions and Comments
How to submit an article or upcoming workshops for inclusion in the Newsletter:  
If you would like to submit an article, notice of an organizational meeting or upcoming workshop for an upcoming Collections Caretaker Newsletter, send your submission to peggy@collectioncare.org .  
 
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Have a comment or suggestion?   
 
Northern States Conservation Center (NSCC) provides training, collection care, preservation and conservation treatment services. NSCC offers online museum studies classes at   museumclasses.org in Collections Management & Care, Museum Administration & Management, Exhibit Practices and Museum Facilities Management.
 
Sincerely,
Helen Alten, Director
Peggy Schaller, Publications Manager