Hello. We hope you are all enjoying the holiday season and finding time with family and friends. We know this is a busy time of year for everyone. We also recognize that the decisions related to the moratorium and the Testing and Certification Risk Assessment (RA) are on the forefront of many of your minds – interpreters, consumers, and stakeholders alike. As President Whitcher is engaged in the final planning for the Board meeting, I agreed to do this vlog on her behalf. It’s all about teamwork!
Since receipt of the RA, the RID Board has been reviewing the materials in preparation for face-to-face discussions that will occur at the upcoming December Board meeting, on the campus of Gallaudet University from December 15-20. Some members have expressed the desire to have that meeting open and live-streamed so that members can have direct access to the Board’s process, communications, and decision-making. Given that the majority of this particular Board meeting must occur in closed session, due to the nature of privileged information being discussed and its implication on the topic being considered, conducting the meeting publicly is not an option.
We understand that conducting business in closed session can stimulate or fuel frustration about a lack of transparency among the membership. Certainly that is not the intent. The reality is that the obligation of the Board is to conduct the sensitive business of the association in a professional and responsible manner. As the elected officials of the corporation, the Board has a fiduciary duty to keep certain types of information confidential in its ongoing commitment to protect the interests of RID as a whole. Closed sessions are an important tool for all non-profit Boards of Directors in providing a forum for Board members to talk openly about topics that warrant special treatment, for fostering robust discourse about privileged information, and for strengthening trust and communication among Board members. And, because the administrative and operational aspects of the testing and certification system are deeply entwined with privileged fiscal and legal information, it is simply not possible—at this particular juncture—to talk about any one aspect of the risk assessment without also discussing the privileged aspects. So, in order for the Board to move forward in addressing difficult and challenging issues before them, the majority of the Board meeting will be conducted in closed session.
This decision marks our current juncture in our organization’s evolution. We are in a state of significant flux, transition, and vulnerability. We have been dealing with active lawsuits, engaged in a variety of personnel matters, addressing fiscal losses and shortages, among other real challenges. As a result, more business than usual has been of a privileged nature and resulted in a higher incidence of closed session for Board meetings than is our norm. At such junctures there is an increased responsibility for the Board of Directors to exercise due diligence in our conduct. This is the duty of the Board—even when doing so is not popular or desired. And as such, our ability to be as transparent as we would like to be is not possible.
This leads to important questions about the “membership-driven” nature of RID. This is a term that gets used frequently in our organizational discourse but is not necessarily a term that we have sufficiently defined or around which we have a common understanding.
Membership-driven refers to the significant influence the membership yields through its various forms of engagement within the association. Membership-driven speaks to the volunteer leadership nature of RID at the local, state, and national levels [Boards, committees, councils, task forces, etc,] and the voting rights of its members. It is through these aspects of our organizational structure that members can make the most impact on the association’s direction.
In times of crisis, significant transition, or change—when there is more privileged information to be addressed and managed–it is membership involvement through volunteer leadership roles that becomes the backbone of our decision-making. Members become even more dependent on the volunteer leadership to exercise its unique duties, insights, and influence to make responsible choices on behalf of the association as a whole. This then is why it is long-before a Board is elected that members must be actively engaged in fostering, encouraging, promoting, and nominating individuals to the Board of Directors who they are prepared to trust and who they believe will be the most representative and responsible during these critical times.
So, it is with this background that we set the stage for the important engagement of the RID Board of Directors next week to address a range of recommendations relating to the administration, operation, finances, and governance of the testing and certification system. As we become clear on next steps and the best options before us, we will begin expanding the number of members engaged in the process of charting the future of testing and certification. Thank you for your continued support and understanding.