This week, our blog features an open letter to the board and our members from our new chapter president, Tameri Etherton.
In November I had the honor to attend a board meeting for the Romance Writers of America’s national Board of Directors. Now, I understand that some people might think this would be a day filled with drawn out discussions and jargon best suited to a court room. Not so. Well, maybe a little bit, but instead of being bored by the proceedings, or overwhelmed, I was fascinated.
Not only were the board members polite to each other, they were a group of educated men and women who cared greatly for the whole of this organization. Some of the members kept binders full of notes, others had laptops, and all of them were attentive to the proceedings.
Several times the discussions became lively, but never did they devolve into raucous behavior. The person speaking was given time to share what they intended, and then the next person on the list was able to contribute. Every so often, the discussion would veer off, but was quickly brought back to the agenda.
I’ll admit, some of the topics were confusing for me to follow since they were carried over from past board meetings. But even these I thought were intriguing in how the board handled each situation. Thoughtful questions were asked, and if there was an easy answer, it was given. If, as happened a few times, the answer needed further investigation, that was noted and the board moved on to the next topic.
Recapping the board meeting distills the day into a few sentences that come off rather dry at the end of the page, but believe me, it was anything but. There even came a time during the day when I had to make a decision to leave early to miss traffic, or stay. I chose to stay until the meeting concluded somewhere around the six o’clock hour, which put me directly into the path of traffic heading north.
It was well worth it! And trust me, I hate traffic, so for me to say that means something.
The reasons I chose to attend the national board meeting were two-fold—I wanted to meet the board of an organization I have come to cherish, and as incoming President, I felt it was important for me to see how the board operated. Another, more personal reason for sitting in on the meeting was that I wished to introduce myself to some folks I’ve only ever interacted with in email. Since the RWA National Conference will be in San Diego this year, I also wanted to avail myself to the board should they require anything from the San Diego Chapter.
A bonus to attending the meeting? I was able to chat with publishing rockstars like Courtney Milan, Carolyn Jewel, Tessa Dare, and Kristan Higgins. How often can you say you spent the day with those ladies?
As board members, we have a fiduciary duty to our members. Which means, each board member is ‘expected to conduct himself or herself without the conflict to the interests of Romance Writers of America (RWA). When acting within his or her capacity as a Chapter board member, he or she must subordinate personal, business, third-party, and other interests to the welfare and best interests of RWA and the Chapter.’
I took that quote from a Conflict of Interest form every board member has to sign at the beginning of their term. We, as board members, are to put our egos aside and make decisions for the greater good of the whole. That’s a tall order when you’re dealing with any group of people! Yet the men and women I saw in the hotel meeting room that day did exactly this. They acted on the betterment of the entire RWA organization. I never felt like anyone there had an agenda, or that they believed their voice held more weight than anyone else’s. Each member conducted themselves as equals. I respect that.
I left the meeting with a sense of purpose. Enlightened to not only the process, but in the fact that people who are just as passionate as I am about the business of writing are working hard to ensure that I’m protected as I pursue my career.
While I only attended one day, the board meetings took three days. Three long days of discussion on a myriad of topics, dealing with plagiarism, committee reports, conference details, and so many more I would bore you if I listed them all. Add in travel time and these professional writers gave up almost a week of their precious writing time to devote to us. You and me.
How often do we get twitchy about our writing time? We’re protective of it, to say the least. The fact that every single one of those board members willingly give up their sacred time for me makes me strive to be a better member.
I can’t promise that RWA San Diego’s board meetings will be as fulfilling for you, but every member is invited each month to come as a guest. This year, the meetings will be the second Monday of the month, starting at 6:30pm at Corner Bakery Cafe in UTC. Reminders will go out on the RWA SD Yahoo loop, be sure to spot it and mark it on your calendar. We’d love to see you there!
In closing, I’d like to say it’s an honor to serve as your President this year. RWA is an organization that has embraced me and helped me tremendously in my path to become a published author. I feel strongly that it’s important to give back to any organization that’s helped you become who you are today. Volunteering and giving up my precious writing time isn’t a chore, nor is it something I regret. It’s my way of saying ‘Thank you’. Thank you to those on the national board who strive to make this a better, safer, more educated community, thank you to the members of San Diego who have helped me, and thank you to those who I’ll in turn be grateful to help. It’s a never-ending circle that benefits everyone.
I look forward to seeing you at our board meetings or chapter meetings. If you haven’t already, please consider volunteering. There is always a position to fill, or a place to help out and you’d be helping the chapter as well as yourself!
With deepest gratitude,
RWA SD President