By Carolee Langer
One of the responses I get most often from members when asked to volunteer for a Chapter Officer position is “I have no idea what that Officer does,” so this issue’s Shifting Gears is “geared” towards the roles and responsibilities of the top four or five Officer positions in WOW. This information can be found in the Chapter Director/State Ambassador handbook. Handbook? What is that you ask? It is a handbook (a set of guidelines) that was produced to help our volunteer Chapter Directors, State Ambassadors and other Chapter Officers learn about their roles and responsibilities, and as I like to call it, the “Ways of WOW.” It includes our policies, procedures, and the WOW National bylaws as well. It is a great tool to help Chapter Officers know how to handle certain situations. This book isn’t the “Gospel” and isn’t the “Holy Grail,” so any paid member should be able to read and learn about it; just ask your Chapter Director. She should have a copy either in print or on a compact disc. If your Chapter Director does not have a current copy of the CD/SA Handbook, contact me and I will get one sent out asap. I believe the different sections of the handbook are great information that should be shared with the chapter membership. How else would you learn about being an officer and possibly volunteering to run for an officer position in the future?
Below is an excerpt from the CD/SA Handbook that basically outlines the five main Chapter officer positions. This is not all-inclusive, but gives a good idea of the basic roles and responsibilities. Note: According to the National bylaws, only Full Members (in good standing) can run for Chapter Officer positions and can vote in Chapter Officer elections. Support members (Female or Male) are not eligible to run for Chapter Officer or vote in Chapter elections. Also, Chapter Officers can only hold ONE Officer position at a time. That means you should not be the Chapter Director AND the Chapter Treasurer in the same calendar year. Some smaller chapters combine the Secretary roles and the Treasurer roles and declare the person the “Chapter Treasurer,” but it is preferred you not title that person “Chapter Secretary AND Chapter Treasurer.” These duties should be divided up between Full members in your Chapter if at all possible. We will cover additional Chapter Officer roles in a future article.
Every Chapter will not need all of these officers. Some Chapters best operate with a loose structure while others prefer more regimentation. Notice there are no “Board Members” listed in the Chapter Officer list. Your Chapter structure should not resemble a “Board” like a Board of Directors or Board of Trustees. Keep your “Officer Team” as basic and as simple as possible. Sometimes bigger is not always better.
Chapter officers typically consist of some (possibly, but seldom, all) of the following positions:
Other Officer Positions listed in the handbook: Newsletter Editor; Public Relations Coordinator; Chapter Activity Coordinator; Recruiting Coordinator; Historian; Road Captain; and Sergeant-At-Arms.
Chapter Director (or Co-Directors)
•Assume Chapter organizational and advisory responsibility.
•Arrange for the use of a meeting place.
•Coordinate the Chapter activities and programs with help of the other Chapter officers.
•Act as an information link between the Chapter members and the State Ambassador.
•Oversee the Chapter newsletter content and distribution. It is recommended that it be sent to all interested Chapter participants, including potential members, other Chapter Directors in your state, the State Ambassador and the WOW Home Office in Nebraska.
•Be responsible for the prudent use of Chapter funds.
•Vote in all Chapter matters.
•Make a quarterly report to the State Ambassador on Chapter activities and submit an annual report (NLT Dec. 31), which includes the Chapter membership roster, the next year’s elected Officers, with the Chapter Charter renewal fee to the Home Office in Nebraska.
•Share the responsibilities of the Chapter Director. (see above)
Assistant Chapter Director
•Assist the Chapter Director in her efforts to bring about a well-coordinated, fun-to-be-in and active Women On Wheels® Chapter.
•Perform other duties as appointed by your Chapter Director
•Assume the Chapter Director’s duties in her absence.
•Keep a current record of the Chapter finances.
•Write checks to cover Chapter expenses at the direction of the Chapter Director.
•Provide financial reports for Chapter review on a regular basis, or when requested.
•Make notes of items requiring follow-up for the Chapter Director during the Chapter meetings.
•Correlate and keep current the Chapter activity calendar.
•Maintain a current Chapter mailing list.
•Assist new members with any paperwork.
•See that Women On Wheels® literature and a sign-in sheet are at all Chapter meetings.
•Assist the Chapter Newsletter Editor with mailings or other needed information.
•Complete other duties of a secretarial nature as required.
If your chapter does not have a Recruiting Coordinator, (often referred to as Membership Coordinator), then your Chapter Secretary often is tasked with reviewing the monthly membership lists sent from the Home Office (aka “National”) and calling upon members that haven’t been to events in a while and members that are close to their renewal date. She may also have the task of contacting members that have expired and encouraging them to renew and sending them a current Chapter Calendar of activities and a WOW Membership renewal form.
Each Chapter will adapt these roles and responsibilities differently to fit the size, structure and chapter environment. Like I mentioned earlier, this isn’t the “Gospel according to WOW,” but the handbook is a great set of guidelines to get you on the right track. Your chapter may not have enough members to fill four Officer positions each year, and you don’t have to. The only requirement is that the Chapter elect a Chapter Director each year. IF you wish to have a Treasurer, that position must also be elected by the Full Membership. However, as your chapter grows, you might see the need for the additional Officer positions and the ability to share the responsibilities to more than one volunteer Officer.
It is also important to talk briefly about “Chapter Elections.” If your chapter does not have a process for a Nominations Committee and an Elections Committee, it is suggested you follow the guidelines in our National bylaws. Here are a few excerpts from the bylaws to help guide your chapter when it comes time to form a Nominations Committee and Elections Committee. (Many Chapters combine the two committees due to membership size) The main thing that is important to remember: If you are running for Chapter Officer, you should not be involved at all in the Nominations committee or Elections committee, and especially not involved in counting the ballots. That’s a bit of a conflict of interest and could cause concerns from your chapter membership. Let two or more Full members in your chapter who are NOT running for future officer take care of receiving nominations, informing candidates and creating, mailing, collecting and counting the ballots.
Last note: If you can’t find a policy or procedure in the handbook or the bylaws, defer to Robert’s Rules of Order (Newly Revised) to help figure out any parliamentary topics.
Here are a few items from the bylaws to help: If your Chapter doesn’t have a process in place, you can substitute Chapter Director for President and use this guideline in your chapter nominations and elections.
The President (Chapter Director) shall appoint a chair to head the nominating committee consisting of full members. There are no restrictions on the (current) office any member of the nominating committee may hold. No member who is seeking nomination shall serve on the nominating committee.
The President (Chapter Director) shall appoint an election committee chair to receive the ballots cast in the annual election, count the ballots, certify the results of the election, report the results to the President (Chapter Director) and the (Chapter) Secretary, and comply with the bylaws. This committee shall be composed of not less than two full members of Women On Wheels® who are not candidates in the annual election. Each member voting in such election shall return the ballot directly to the WOW office (Election Committee). The election committee shall be instructed by the Board of Trustees (Chapter Director) on how to validate each ballot without violating the anonymity of any voter. The election committee shall count the votes cast for each candidate, but shall not, in any instance, record how any member voted, nor discuss how any member voted with any person not a member of the election committee.
The rules contained in the current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised shall govern WOW in all cases to which they are applicable and in which they are not inconsistent with these bylaws and any special rules of order that WOW may adopt.
Whew! Are your eyes glazed over yet? Mine sure are! I know this isn’t super exciting stuff, but it is something that we believe is important for our Membership and existing Officers to know and understand. The more you can learn about how the “wheels” turn around here, the more comfortable you will be as a Chapter member and it might even help encourage you to run for a Chapter Officer position someday.
If you have any questions, please drop me an email at Carolee@WomenOnWheels.org and I will be happy to help!
See article on page 6…