CFIDS Association president and CEO
K. Kimberly McCleary
From the Desk of Kim McCleary
Across the Board
My teenage kids think it’s cool that I don’t have a boss. They don’t quite understand what it means when I tell them, “I report to a Board of Directors,” but they find it appealing that there isn’t an authority figure tracking my daily comings and goings. (I guess that’s partially the nature of teenagers.)
I think it’s “cool” that nonprofits are governed by the collective wisdom and experience of a group of people, rather than ruled by a single individual. In the 17 years I’ve functioned as the Association’s chief staff executive (under several different titles), I have grown to more fully understand, appreciate and deeply respect this governance structure. More importantly, I have come to greatly admire the people who serve as its agents—members of the Board of Directors.
Over the past 20 years, 80 individuals have served on the Association’s Board, some for just one year, others for a decade or more. In the early years, nearly all directors were people with CFS. A few were close family members or professionals who had a connection to CFS. Today the distribution of these three basic “groups” within the Board is evenly balanced, and across the years members of our Nominating Committee have worked hard to recruit individuals who reflect the breadth and complexity that CFS presents, regardless of their professional, patient or family member status. We now also have term limits on board service to ensure healthy turnover. The 17 individuals who currently serve on the Board represent a rich crosssection of the CFS community and those we hope to influence through our work. I encourage you to read more about them in “Meet the New CFIDS Association Board Members,” a story in this issue of the CFIDSLink.
Over 20 years, the Association’s Board has been chaired by four different people, with a fifth to be added to this select list on January 1 when Susan Jacobs completes her third consecutive year of service as chairman and Jennie Spotila begins her first. Founder Marc Iverson, Jon Sterling and John Trussler filled this post for terms of 14 years, 3 2/3 years and 4 months, respectively. Not all transitions have been as smooth and orderly as the present one promises to be, but that’s true to the history of many organizations fueled by personal passions for important causes. I invite you to read Susan Jacobs’s “Message to Members” from the fall Chronicle, in which she offers a personal perspective on her term as chairman and the work of the Board.
It is a privilege to report to and work alongside the members of the Board, who selflessly volunteer more than their “time, talent and treasure” to shape this organization. To a person, there is a bond of loyalty and service that characterizes their care for the Association and the community of people it serves. While our deliberations are sometimes difficult, either because of the diversity of opinions expressed or because of the complex topics under discussion, there’s a commitment to put the needs of the organization before personal agendas and a sincere desire to arrive at the best decision for the long-term health of the enterprise. To me, that represents governance at its best.
I serve at the pleasure of the Board of Directors and am honored that my 17-year tenure has only been possible through earning the trust and confidence of 17 boards over that time. I will miss the opportunity to work closely with three people whose terms on the Board end this year; Rick Baldwin and Adrianne Ryan retire from service at year-end and Terry Hedrick had to step down earlier this year for health reasons and to fulfill family commitments. And I will miss the close working relationship that Susan Jacobs and I have formed over the past three years. I look forward to continuing that chair-CEO partnership with Jennie in the new year.
In November our Board met in Charlotte for a highly productive weekend in which our four newly elected directors, Adam Lesser, Brian Smith, Amy Squires and Patrick Venetucci, participated. This meeting inspired great confidence in the 2008 Board’s ability to work on behalf of the CFS community and make the Association an even more potent catalyst in making progress in our mission to conquer CFS.
At the holidays and this time of thanks-giving, I extend my most sincere gratitude to our Board of Directors, past and present, for their unmatched dedication as stewards of this cause.
President & CEO
The CFIDS Association of America