When one person resigns from an Executive Board, it’s not news. When everyone BUT one person resigns…maybe so.
(For those who came in late: see Part 1 below)
My departure as so-called President of the voiceover group known as SaVoa was my own decision, and I resigned feeling it was I who had failed the group. Now I’m not so sure.
Like I said, it seemed the only real benefit I brought the non-profit group known as SaVoa was my reputation.
I said as much to the group’s creator, who was asking me to take over the title of President from him. He did me the honor of saying he thought that people who knew me, or knew of me, would see my acceptance of top office in SaVoa as a sign of positive change.
And indeed, some positive changes were slowly developing: reasons to offer when potential members asked the very real question: “Why should I join? How would it help me?”
A couple of our members took it upon themselves to “spread the Good Word” at voiceover conventions and gatherings. A few even spent their own money on promotional items for distribution (they were later paid back, but it seemed to take forever). One social-network-savvy member put in the work to create a companion website to the savoa-dot-org main site, establish a member forum, generate discussions and generally create awareness (again, he was later reimbursed for his expense, but he did it on his own).
Earlier this year, it seemed as if SaVoa was really poised to start delivering on some of its potential. Efforts were being made to create materials for a concerted promotional push outside the membership: advertising and promoting to people in the production community that a SaVoa membership shield on a freelance voice talent’s business card or home page was an indication the producer’s job would suddenly become a whole lot easier, by hiring an accredited talent. This was, finally, something we could respond with when someone asked what benefit membership would have.
The group’s own founder made good-faith efforts to find an insurance company to offer discounts to members. State laws made medical insurance impossible, but there were other forms of coverage in the works, only to stall from the insurer’s lack of interest. Our founder also had the great idea of expanding SaVoa to cover voice talent in other languages, recruiting people who would be qualified to evaluate talent in their own countries. SaVoa’s creator also, to his credit, advanced the idea of inviting more female talent onto the advisory and executive boards. It was an honest attempt to counter the somewhat accurate but unintentional perception that it was nothing more than a “Good Ol’ Boys Club”.
Another member, an attorney who just happens to also be a great talent (you may have seen him in a Super Bowl ad), offered to help out with legal questions and go over the group’s non-profit charter and by-laws.
Our board chairman, who was also our Vice President (and whose organizational skills still put me in awe) kept everyone notified of monthly conference calls, established the agendas, and made sure everyone had a voice in the proceedings.
President Me? I pretty much did what I’d been doing…offering an opinion or asking a question when I felt I had something worthy of input. Leadership? What Leadership?
…which put me in another awkward position when our chairman let us know he had to bow out for awhile due to some planned surgery which would affect his ability to talk. Nothing serious, but he’d be out of commission for awhile. I was asked, as president, to take over scheduling the conference calls and running the meetings till he got back. Just a month. Maybe two. And I’d have plenty of help. That was…how many months ago? I forget.
I’ve called myself the “intern president”. When asked if I meant “interim president”, I’ve used it as a self-effacing joke. A “joke” is pretty much what I felt I was in office anyway, though I continued to help out with reviewing voice demos of applicants, which I felt somewhat qualified to do.
Before and after our chairman’s sabbatical, it was often difficult to get our founder to be present in the conference calls. This wasn’t so much a problem of having a quorum, but the fact that he was also the Secretary/Treasurer, and the only one (it seemed) who had the passwords to the main website and paypal accounts. And to be fair, he…just like the rest of us…had a Real Life to attend to in addition to SaVoa. Perfectly understandable.
He was also good-naturedly chided month after month for not keeping our paperwork up to date with the IRS to comply with our non-profit tax status. We didn’t owe anything, but you know those folks really do love their paperwork. In all the meetings I was a part of, before and after “presidency”, it was kind of a running joke: “…haven’t gotten everything filed yet.” “I’ll get to it. By next meeting for sure.” I say it was treated with humor because no one on the board felt the treasury funds were being mishandled. But there was concern we could see our non-profit status jeopardized if the right forms weren’t kept up to date.
Adding to our founder’s workload were his duties heading the tech review committee (which evaluated the sound of a member’s home studio with a professional audio engineer’s ear and standards). Our VP/chairman had been on the committee, but was now out of commission. The other main committee member had resigned some months prior, not being able to devote proper time to the responsibility. One of our other members helped with reviews, but evidently did not always agree with the creator on quality standards. That made for friction. Since I’ve never claimed to be an engineer (though I’ve been called a production genius), I stayed out of those conflicts, deferring to those more experienced. And honestly, I’d rather get between two fighting cats than two quarreling engineers.
There it is again: deferring to the more experienced.
So what’s so bad about that? Maybe nothing….except that “nothing” was mostly what was getting done.
Committees, by their very nature, are inefficient in my opinion. But the alternative is to leave all the decisions and work to a very few individuals. Either way, progress on these and other issues was agonizingly slow. It seemed whenever we’d be on the verge of getting something started, the decision would be tabled for later discussion, or referred to another committee…which never got formed.
Our resident member-attorney worked over the group’s by-laws to customize them for our organization, and look for things we might need to add along the way. Systems of accountability through the advisory and executive boards were being hashed out. A wider distribution of control and authority was proposed on several levels. Some of these proposals were formally and politely resisted. And in more than one instance the objection came from the same person…who insisted he could manage things just fine the way they were.
(This would be a great place to introduce a Conspiracy Theory. In my view, there wasn’t one. That may not stop you from hearing other claims.)
But objections were raised at how members were recruited into the boards, and by whom (although the required votes were always dutifully taken). Objections were raised by some qualified folk who felt their engineering and technical skills were being ignored and possibly subverted by the status quo.
As the by-laws were put under legal scrutiny, a flap developed over concern that some applicants were being pushed through channels into membership without the proper vetting, showing favoritism. And those accusations were leveled toward the officer with the most power to do so. It wasn’t the “intern president”.
– to be continued –