Posting on behalf of the full WCHA Board of Directors:
After allowing this discussion to play out for a while, it is time to respond, set the record straight, and correct some grossly inaccurate information and unfounded and derogatory insinuations. In a nutshell:
· The Board of Directors is composed solely of volunteer members plus our Executive Director
· The Board is elected by the membership to make decisions on behalf of the WCHA
· The Board is diverse, regularly changing, and as representative of the full membership as possible
· Anyone and everyone is welcome to run for a seat on the Board
· No Board member's vote counts more than any other
· All actions are preceded by deep discussion, followed by votes of the Board which are almost always unanimous
· The journal, Wooden Canoe, is the official communication arm of the WCHA
· Board activities are not kept secret; they are published in Wooden Canoe, which every member receives
· Board activities are also presented in the official WCHA Business Meeting each summer, which everyone is encouraged to attend
· This website is maintained by the WCHA but it is not an official mechanism of communication
· The website forums are public, and viewable by more than just the membership, so official business is not and has never been presented here
First, today's Board members, just like those of the past (and future) volunteered to run for office because they truly care for the health and well-being of our organization. Not content to sit idly by or simply complain, the many who have offered and do offer to serve on the Board do so with goodness of heart for the betterment of our organization. During our tenure on the Board, we have never met an elected Board member or even a candidate who wasn't truly committed to the WCHA. The service of our Board members is done without compensation, and sometimes their roles require considerable time and effort. Their work has always been done (in our experience) without complaint or divisiveness, but rather with enthusiasm and commitment to common purpose. Publicly questioning the service and motives of our Board members and the Executive Director is harmful and counterproductive.
Our Board of Directors is not a monolith. It, including the Executive Director, represents a broad cross section of the WCHA's membership; in recent years it is probably more diverse than it has ever been. Geographic diversity and diversity of age, gender, and other qualities ensures the best representation of the full membership. What's more, the Board regularly changes. We hold elections every year for open positions on the board so new thoughts and perspectives come to the fore. Unfortunately, sometimes few (or no) people choose to run for these open positions. Despite sometimes harsh and unwarranted criticism, those who step up in service to the WCHA continue to work to make this an outstanding organization that serves its members the best way possible within our means.
Board activities are not kept secret, nor do Board activities "come out in dribs and drabs". The Board holds two extensive meetings per year as it has long done: once at the annual Assembly in July, and once in Winter. Recently, because of the heavier workload required, the Board began even greater service by holding monthly e-meetings to maintain momentum on action items generated at the two major official meetings. None of the time and travel required to attend these meetings is compensated, yet Board members continue to serve selflessly for the good of the WCHA. The notion that nothing "escapes the confines of the board room" is sadly conspiratorial thinking; it is unfounded and unreasonable (see below). The notion that the Board is "comfortably running the organization outside of the view of the membership and without engaging member participation" is flatly false. The current and past Boards are members themselves, and they have always valued member participation (in fact, it is often begged for). Just because the Board doesn't enact or react to all (often conflicting) suggestions immediately doesn't mean that member input is unappreciated.
It should be noted that everything undertaken by our diverse and dedicated board is done with careful consideration. Data is gathered and deep discussions precede any and all votes. Most important, every member of the Board has equal opportunity to contribute, to present his or her own perspective, and to lobby for the interests of the wider WCHA membership. Only after careful deliberation are votes held and actions taken.
Members have the opportunity to contact Board members at any time. We are all invited to contribute to our official publication and the calendar, and we are all welcome to participate actively in the planning and activities of Assembly and regional gatherings and chapters. As well, all members are informed of Board activities through two official means (the WCHA's only official communication mechanisms): in the pages of Wooden Canoe and at the annual Business Meeting. Board activities of the recent past, current and near future were discussed at the Business meeting in July, 2019, at Paul Smiths College. Activities of the Board meetings, the annual financial balance sheet, and the annual profit and loss statement are published in Wooden Canoe (see for example, issue 206, Vol. 41, no. 2, April 2018; and issue 212, Vol. 42, no. 2, April 2019). Activities and financials for the calendar year 2019 will be published in the upcoming issue of Wooden Canoe (vol. 43, no. 2).
This website and these forums are maintained by the WCHA for the benefit of its members and the public. The WCHA Board of Directors has never held the website forums as an official means of communication - they are not. Yes, there is a section titled "WCHA Business", but it is not recognized in the WCHA bylaws as an official means of WCHA communication. These forums are open to the public for public discussion; activities of the WCHA may be discussed here, but there is no requirement that official business be discussed and/or disseminated here (nor should it necessarily be).
Finally, it is a gross mischaracterization of fact to state that the Board “drove away” the previous webmaster. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Necessary changes were coming for the WCHA including its website over the past several years. Some of these changes required very serious consideration, and none were taken lightly. Out of deep and continuing respect for the positive efforts of our immediate past webmaster (and journal editor), the Board will not discuss this matter publicly. His service remains deeply appreciated, as has been stated in a variety of forums over time. That has not changed and will not change.
In a large organization such as this there are always a variety of opinions on issues that affect us, and no solution to any problem will be satisfactory to all members. The nature of the WCHA should always include engagement in reasonable discussion, volunteerism, and careful consideration of issues to find solutions that are in the best interests of the WCHA. This is certainly what happens among the Boards of Directors of today and the past.
There is no effective way for our elected board to make progress for the WCHA by communicating every nuance from board meetings at the moment those meetings happen. Public battles over everything from big issues to minutia would absolutely kill progress. This is not the way any successful organization works. On the contrary, our large and diverse Board of Directors is elected by the membership to weigh issues and options, to make collective decisions that best serve the WCHA, and to publicize those actions through official channels. This is what has always been done, and this is what is done still.
And remember, as always you are welcome to serve.
The 2020 WCHA Board of Directors