Message to Members
By Susan L. Jacobs, Esq.
(from the fall 2007 CFIDS Chronicle)
It’s not quite as glamorous as Miss America’s final stroll down the catwalk just before the new beauty queen is crowned, but as I write this, I do have the sense that my thoughts are being broadcast for all to hear. I’m in the final weeks of my term as chairman of the Board of Directors of the CFIDS Association of America, a position I’ve been honored to hold for three years. In 2008, we’ll welcome a new chairman to lead the Board in the Association’s “coming of age” 21st year.
This orderly transition was preordained several years ago, when the Board adopted into its bylaws a term limit of three years for the chairman position. I credit my predecessor, John Trussler, with the foresight to recommend this change in 1999, working through the Board’s Governance Committee. Later, the Board also adopted term limits of six consecutive years for its directors before they’re required to take a break in service. Two highly valued directors, Adrianne Ryan and Rick Baldwin, will retire from the Board at the end of the year, having completed their maximum service. While they’ll be greatly missed, we recognize that orderly transitions are essential to the long term health of the Association.
The Board’s governance policies don’t get much attention—rightly so, in the larger scope of our work—but I believe they represent the Association’s backbone and reflect our broader responsibility to be careful stewards of the trust the CFS community has invested in our leadership. These policies guide our deliberations over issues like the allocation of funds among our programs, research priorities, the direction of our public policy and education efforts, whether to enter into certain collaborations or how best to proceed on issues like the name change. If we as a Board don’t govern ourselves effectively, how can we expect to capably lead an organization whose mission is to conquer one of the most complex, prevalent and debilitating chronic illnesses of our time?
As chairman I’ve applied my training as an attorney, my experience as a board member for other nonprofit organizations and my deep concern for people affected by CFS. I’ve done my best to channel the impressive talents and diverse perspectives of my fellow volunteers and to work in close partnership with president & CEO Kim McCleary as she directs the staff to implement the Board’s policies and plans. I feel so fortunate to have held this position during a time of remarkable progress in public awareness and respect for CFS and promising convergence in the scientific understanding of its biology.
So, as I take my final walk across this stage, I’d like to express my gratitude for the work of this vibrant, dynamic organization and for the inspiring people who do it. Although my close friend Jane Perlmutter’s dedication to the Association was the initial draw for me, it has been the people I’ve met at Lobby Day and other events, fellow Board members and our dedicated staff who’ve strengthened my own commitment to this cause. I’ll continue doing all I can to speed progress toward a cause and a cure.