Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Are you on board, fellow?

A little over a year ago, a second-year student named Brian asked the first-year members of Q+ (the LGBT club at school) if anyone would be interested in succeeding him for a year-long stint on the board of CABO, the state's first and only LGBT chamber of commerce. I said I would, and it was done. Now, in the blink of an eye, my commitment is nearly at an end.

I have therefore been asked to pass the torch. But rather than just pluck another gay guy from the first-year class and cross my fingers that this system is sustainable, I'm proposing that CABO participate in something at school called the Nonprofit Board Fellows Club. Actually, one of the leaders of this club suggested I approach CABO about this last fall, but sometimes it takes my brain a few months to process a simple piece of information.

This is a club that matches first-year students with nonprofit boards in New Haven. The purpose is, according to the club's materials, threefold -- to give a student a chance to experience board service, to give boards an MBA resource, and to strengthen ties between the school and the community. Because this is a program that's very in line with SOM's mission and will in theory exist going forward, I think joining forces makes sense.

I've said in this blog repeatedly that I was over-committed this year, and I don't think any of my commitments suffered more for this than CABO. Because I never see the fellow board members other than at meetings -- in other words, because I don't bump into them in the hall -- it was easy to prioritize this work below more immediate and pressing concerns at school. Not that I was totally useless, mind you; I used some of my multimedia editing skills several times, scrutinized some budgets and publication materials, attended a regional summit one weekend in Philadelphia (and thereby missed the Spring Formal), manned the front desk at a few mixers and am trying to get some members on campus to speak to students. When I put it that way, maybe I wasn't such a bad board member after all! But I feel like I should have been setting aside, say, one Saturday a month to stuff envelopes and make tons of phone calls. That's what it sounds like Brian did. But that never really happened.

I'm glad I did this, though, because I enjoyed learning more about CABO and board service more generally. I also liked the people on the board a lot and was glad to spend time with them. One takeaway, though, is that if I am going to sit on another board in the future, I will make sure I'm not simultaneously juggling a dozen other things. It's not fair to the board if each seat isn't being occupied by someone with a lot of drive, passion and, most importantly, time.

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