Hello, I’m Melvin Walker, President of RID. The purpose of this video is to discuss the search process for the position of RID CEO. This topic has generated a large amount of discussion on social media. The Board wants to share what information we can. I’m sure many of you have experienced situations in your own professional careers working with agencies, companies, and businesses where certain types of information cannot be shared. Many things happen in an interview process that must remain confidential. This is for the protection of the candidates who were interviewed and also the organization. We recognize that there are some RID members and also some individuals in the Deaf community who are asking for more transparency, such as why a particular person was not selected or why the search committee only recommended two people to advance to the second interview stage. We recognize these individuals’ desire for specific answers, but the Board has an obligation to keep confidentiality to protect both the applicants and the organization.
Now, let’s talk about the process. Many of you have seen previous videos that explained parts of the process. This search really began in November 2017 at the Board’s face-to-face meeting at RID Headquarters. The Board met with the purpose of working on the strategic plan using information gathered during the SLC conference. During this meeting, we realized the need for the organizational structure to shift from an Executive Director (ED) to a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and a Chief Operating Officer (COO).
Once the CEO and COO decision was made, the following process was implemented:
● The Board hosted a leadership webinar to share our intentions with RID leadership.
● The Board established a search committee with three (3) Board members and one (1) staff member.
● A video announcement of the CEO position was sent via email to allied and stakeholder organizations who were asked to share; our intention was to pull in as many qualified people as possible.
● The search committee developed a rubric for evaluating application packets.
● The search committee developed a rubric for evaluating the first round of interviews.
● The search committee developed interview questions for the first round of interviews.
● Six (6) applications were received and all six applicants were interviewed during the first round.
● Two (2) applicants were recommended by the search committee to advance to the next stage.
● The Board accepted this recommendation and reached out to both candidates.
● An announcement to the membership was made in which video introductions and resumes of the candidates were shared.
● Online feedback was solicited from the membership.
● Second round face-to-face interviews at Headquarters were set up with both Board and staff.
● Headquarters staff met with each candidate in small groups and completed an online survey to provide their feedback on the candidates.
● Affiliate Chapter presidents, Member Section chairs, and the Councils were asked for feedback as leaders of their respective groups.
● The second round interview process with the Board was conducted at the Board’s face-to-face meeting in April. At that interview, we asked the candidates to:
○ Perform a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis of RID based on materials supplied to them previously. (20 mins)
○ Provide a financial presentation using provided materials, namely, the 2016 and 2017 annual reports and the 2013-2016 strategic plan. Using past budgets and reports, they were to provide a financial analysis of RID and present opportunities for cost savings and revenue growth. (20 mins)
○ Make a presentation titled “The Future of RID”; each candidate was asked to present ideas to the Board on how RID can achieve its mission and vision as well as be responsive to the member feedback collected in SLC. (30 mins)
○ Answer any remaining Board questions. (30 mins)
● Information was gathered from all stages including the video recordings of the first round interviews.
● The following data points for each candidate were taken into consideration:
○ CEO job description
○ Resume/Curriculum Vitae
○ Letter of Interest (ASL and English)
○ First round of interviews (recorded)
○ Video introduction to membership
○ Member survey feedback (from 1,514 participants)
○ Staff survey feedback
○ Second round interviews
● The following questions were asked in making our determination:
○ Does the candidate’s education, experience, and background prepare them to fulfill the CEO job description?
○ Can we live with the candidate’s weaknesses? Can we provide resources through the organization to improve those weaknesses?
○ Can this person serve a diverse membership?
○ Can we trust the candidate in a remote management position with a high level of authority?
○ Will the staff and membership respond to their leadership?
Our goal was to find someone who can lead our organization and recognize that it is a business. When we prioritized what we were looking for, the number one factor was to find someone who could do the job of CEO. If the candidate brought anything else to the table, that is a bonus. We considered if we, as a Board, could set the candidate up for success as CEO. We would never want to set a candidate up for failure.
Now I would like to discuss the “Finish Enough” blog that has been shared on social media, discussing RID and the CEO position. From my reading, it seems that there are a few facts presented, mixed with statements that are either misrepresentations, misinformation, or personal opinion. It is fine for the author to express their opinion and better if they acknowledge that it is their opinion. There were accusations made that were unfair, not only to the candidates but also to other people who were directly named.
One such accusation I would like to point out is that the Board did not take Deaf candidates seriously or discriminated against Deaf candidates. Those statements are simply not true. I can speak for myself, Melvin Walker, in that I have dedicated my professional career to honoring my Deaf parents. I am a CODA, both of my parents are Deaf, as well as many other members of my family. I want to honor my amazing parents for the wonderful life that I have had. After seeing my parents fight for their rights at work and in other areas of their life, my goal has been to empower others. In 2018, we should be doing a better job. I work to help, support, empower, and then step back so that others can take the lead. I know my fellow Board members feel the same way, and our goal in the CEO search was to find the right person to lead our organization – a person who could step in and continue to make improvements that we have been working on for several years now. A person who could help make RID a solid organization again with a focus on certification and a strong testing program through CASLI. These programs need to continue to grow in strength. The organization needs to become effective again. We want a robust organization with good policies, a strong test, and a solid membership. This leads to more empowerment of the Deaf community, and better provision of the services and support that are needed. That is our goal.
To the author of the blog, I have no opinion about your choice to remain anonymous. Actually, I respect your need to do so and recognize your comments about not feeling safe to reveal yourself. What I take issue with is misinformation being published as fact. I am truly bothered by the inaccuracies that have been promulgated on social media.
I would like to end on a positive note. I want to recognize Dr. Naomi Sheneman, a wonderful woman who has done so much for the profession of interpreting, the organization, and the community. I also want to recognize her latest accomplishment of receiving her Ph.D. while life went on around her, as it does for all of us. What an honor it must have been to be asked to speak during the Gallaudet University graduation ceremony. The video that Dr. Sheneman recently posted demonstrates her first-class character. I truly appreciate her positive attitude, her willingness to complete her commitments to the organization, and her desire to continue helping new interpreters grow and develop their skills, which directly impacts the Deaf community. I look forward to seeing what opportunities arise for Dr. Sheneman in the near future that provide her with the space to continue growing, developing, and doing good work.
The Board’s perspective is that the CEO position is not the right fit for Dr. Sheneman at this moment in time. This is not meant to be a negative reflection on Dr. Sheneman as a person or as a professional. Our goal is to find a candidate who we can set up for success. We would never want to bring in a candidate and inadvertently set them up for failure. It would not be fair to the person or to the organization. We really want to thank Dr. Sheneman for her work and look forward to RID working with her again in the future.
In closing, thank you for watching this rather lengthy video. We wanted to take the time to discuss our process and explain how that process has led the organization to where we are now. I also wanted to openly discuss the anonymous blog and correct some misinformation that has been distributed, and clarify the accusations of discrimination. I especially want to recognize and thank Dr. Sheneman for her work and participation; we look forward to the wonderful things that will come from her in the many years ahead.
Again, thank you for your time. I hope that this addresses some of your questions and concerns. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have further questions. If I can answer them, I will and if I can’t due to confidentiality, I will tell you that as well. I want to continue the conversation. The more people know, the more power we all have, and the more we will all feel engaged with the organization.
I hope to see you all at Region conferences this summer. Thank you, and take care!
We appreciate your attention to this important message.
The outcome of the CEO Search Process will be announced to the membership on Monday, June 4, 2018.