BSA Election Processes, Outcomes, and Recommendations for Reform
Catrina Adams, Min Ya, Imeña Valdes, and Brenda Molano-Flores
The Botanical Society of America’s capstone project is focused on improving our leadership election process. Although as a society we have election-related bylaws, policies, and instructions that are codified and publicly available, the lack of proper documentation and ambiguity regarding the final selection criteria for candidates to leadership positions has created confusion for the Election Committee and BSA Board members. As a working group composed of BSA staff, leadership, members and future leaders, we gathered data via interviews with current BSA staff and past leadership, reviewed all written documents having to do with our election process, and conducted trend analyses associated with our leadership and nomination process. The primary goal of these efforts was for the Election Committee and its members to have repeatable, transparent, and equitable processes and guidelines for the selection of candidates.
As a result of this assessment process our Team came up with a series of recommendations:
- Clarify the categories of values, skills, and characteristics of BSA leaders most important to the membership and provide the membership with sufficient information about candidates to fairly evaluate those criteria when casting their votes.
- Be more transparent about qualifications/targeted recruitment needs for leadership positions, benefits and responsibilities of leadership positions, and the election process.
- Be more intentional about leadership recruitment – recruit for a balanced board over time.
- Make changes to the nomination process to provide more standardized information about nominees to the Election Committee.
- Create clear, transparent guidelines for the Election Committee.
Conducting this exercise has provided a pathway forward to reform our election process and to make it repeatable, transparent, and equitable.