It is very heartening to be part of an energetic and vibrant society – soon to be celebrating its 50th anniversary. Our society is filled with amazing individuals who are passionate about their profession and its future. This passion is what attracted me to the society when I first joined. The Community Development Society’s resiliency, especially in an ever-changing culture, is credited to the visionary efforts of its prior leadership and engaged membership. It is in honor of these leaders and membership efforts that we evaluate the current and future needs of our professional colleagues.
Recently, our officers and board of directors critically examined the CDS leadership structure in concert with the current and future needs of its membership. This was an insightful process, as our society strives to engage multigenerational members from diverse disciplinary and cultural backgrounds. It raised the recurrent question, “How does CDS best serve its current and future membership?” The answer lies in our Principles of Good Practice:
- Promote active and representative participation toward enabling all community members to meaningfully influence the decisions that affect their lives.
- Engage community members in learning about and understanding community issues, and the economic, social, environmental, political, psychological, and other impacts associated with alternative courses of action.
- Incorporate the diverse interests and cultures of the community in the community development process; and disengage from support of any effort that is likely to adversely affect the disadvantaged members of a community.
- Work actively to enhance the leadership capacity of community members, leaders, and groups within the community.
- Be open to using the full range of action strategies to work toward the long-term sustainability and well-being of the community.
We began by examining our foundational bylaws. During this process, we found that there could be revisions made to mainstream the CDS leadership structure which would, “Incorporate the diverse interests and cultures of the community in the community development process.” The first included adding the office of Past President. In June, 2016, the board of directors voted to add an office of Past President, yet the offices roles and responsibilities were not clearly defined. We now propose a more defined role for the new office.
We also recommend combining the offices of Vice President of Operations and the Office of Vice President of Programs into one Vice President position. The Vice President would oversee operational and maintenance functions of committees, and Board Liaisons. The Vice President would Chair the Program Planning Committee and assist in the facilitation of correlating sub-committees. Furthermore, the Treasurer would chair the Finance Committee and correlating sub-committees and the Secretary would chair the Communications Committee and correlating sub-committees. These changes would enhance officer leadership roles by allowing them to deepen their engagement with membership. Their primary committees could be more dynamic as they develop purposeful sub-committees to address membership needs. This would also allow board members to engage with committees and sub-committees that are of interest to them, rather than potentially chairing a committee of limited interest. These recommendations would, “Promote active and representative participation toward enabling all community members to meaningfully influence the decisions that affect the society.” as well as, “Enhance the leadership capacity of CDS members, leaders, and groups within the society.” The proposed changes are incorporated into the following figure:
Lastly, we propose the deletion of action clusters and broadening the focus of CDS chapters and sections to be both place based and interest based. As we have seen, our membership often coincides regarding community issues, or topics of interest. This amendment allows us to better meet the needs of global membership.
As previously stated, we believe that the recommended changes will greatly enhance societal engagement and membership agency. Our process and efforts are based on our founding principles of good practice and we hope you will provide your thoughts, insights and comments regarding our recommendations. To do so, please view our proposed changes and add any comments/suggestions you have. To view the proposed bylaws please click on the following link:
The board and I truly appreciate your input as we continue our efforts to meet our diverse membership.