Note from the President: Harmonizing Bylaws for Efficiency and Coherence

by cmkiel@ucdavis.edu on Tuesday, September 26, 2017

In 2016, SRAI began discussions regarding the support mechanisms, roles and structures of Chapters and Sections as recognized subunits in the overall SRAI organization. Concerns over competing or overlapping meeting times or themes, adequate support mechanisms for onboarding and supporting Chapters at SRAI Headquarters, and issues of autonomy and authority of the various organizations were of primary importance. The SRAI strategic plan includes review of our organizational structures and streamlining procedures as a critical goal. A Review of the various Bylaws for SRAI and its Sections and Chapters revealed that a great opportunity existed to streamline and harmonize overall administrative mechanisms held within the bylaws. Thus, over the last few months, the bylaws committee, and section and chapter leadership have discussed modifications and harmonization of bylaw that will create efficiency and greater transparency in how subunits of our organization are formed and managed.  These changes will also allow for creation of onboarding leadership materials for individuals willing to step up into leadership positions and will enable higher levels of mentoring and support for the leaders of SRAI’s future. 

The proposed Section bylaw changes were sent to all SRAI members in September and can be found here:

The new bylaws will be voted on at each section’s annual meetings to be held in Vancouver in October. Bylaw changes include the following: 

 RECOMMENDATIONS for ADOPTING MODIFICATIONS TO SECTION BYLAWS:

1.a. The Challenge: There has long been an at-times tense relationship between Chapters, Sections and SRAI headquarters regarding the role of Chapters, the steps necessary to onboard or re-energize new Chapters and coordination of Section, Chapter, International and theme meetings and their various education programs. Currently, the Section bylaws point to the SRAI bylaws regarding formation of a Chapter and the SRAI bylaws are silent on this matter.

1.b. The Proposed Solution: The Bylaws committee has proposed including in Article 6 of the Bylaws, provisions for the formation and governance of Chapters. This provides transparent directions on formation of a Chapter, the offices for a Chapter and the primary duties for those offices.

Additionally, the Bylaws committee and Section leadership felt it was prudent to follow Western Section’s lead and allow Section bylaws to include Chapter leadership on key committees of the Sections to allow for better coordination of meeting times, venues and education programs within the Sections and Chapters

2.a. The Challenge: Currently, election cycles and requirements for subunits of SRAI are different in every Section and every Chapter. This leads to significant administrative burden at headquarters in managing the election process.

2.b. The Proposed Solution: The proposed bylaw changes harmonize Election cycles for all subunits of SRAI by having an annual nomination call and voting so that all Sections and Chapters know their new leadership ahead of their spring meetings. To encourage greater participation and ease in nominations, the dates and nomination processes (including self-nomination) are streamlined by eliminating multiple member letters and signatures for nominations (similar to Southern Section’s current approach).

3.a. The Challenge: Currently, each Section and Chapter has a different process for filling an officer position during vacancies and some of the Bylaws are not entirely clear about which position vacancies require which process.

3.b The Proposed Solution: Adoption of harmonized vacancy approach similar to Northeast Section’s current approach.  The new bylaws would allocate the Past President to provide service should the President step down and the new sections also make special election timing and process more uniform across all sections. 

4.a. The Challenge: Currently, some of the Section and Chapter bylaws include provisions for when an individual is no longer able to perform the duties of their office and others do not. It is important to address this particular potential situation.

4.b. The Proposed Solution: Adopt a “removal from office” for non-performance option as found in Northeast’s bylaws.

5.a. The Challenge: Currently, each Section has different roles and responsibilities for their elected officers. For example, some Sections state that the President is the lead in developing the Section’s annual meeting. Other bylaws say that that is the President Elect’s responsibility. This makes it difficult for SRAI headquarters to develop standard onboarding information and brochures for new SRAI leadership and, in some Sections, it prevents the natural mentoring and support that is necessary for new leaders to be successful in our organization.

5.b. Proposed Solution: A primary Section President responsibility should be chairing the Program/Meeting Committee for annual section meetings. The President-elect can serve as Vice-chair – in training for their first year – not the other way around. This harmonization of roles and responsibilities will have the added benefit of allowing another SRAI strategic initiative to move forward – leadership onboarding information. The roles and responsibilities also cover expectations for secretary and treasurer positions. The intent for our Society is to de-centralize decision making as much as possible so that local decisions at the Chapter level can be made locally in consultation with the Sections with reporting continuing to the SRAI Board of Directors to keep everyone informed and decision making transparent.

6.a. The Challenge: Currently, each Section has a Bylaw Committee for purposes of managing and amending bylaws. This structure has resulted in the situation we find ourselves today – disparate, non-uniform bylaws that add administrative burden with no apparent added value.

6.b. The Proposed Solution: The new bylaws propose replacing the bylaw committees in each section with an appointment made by each Section President to serve on the SRAI Bylaw Committee (this will hopefully avoid future devolvement of Bylaws in a dissimilar manner). The bylaw appointee can serve on the executive committee of each Section. Amendments can be proposed by the Executive Committee and brought to the SRAI Bylaw Committee for discussion/adoption – and if it impacts other sections or SRAI - for harmonization between sections prior to being put forward to members for approval and final adoption by SRAI BOD. Also, the new bylaws will allow members to petition for change if a certain percentage of members wish to join the proposed amendments.

Next Steps
Members will vote on the new proposed Section and Chapter Bylaws at their Section Meetings to be held in Vancouver beginning October 14th. The proposed new Bylaws were sent out on September 15th for Membership review. If the new Bylaws are adopted by the Sections, the SRAI Board of Directors will vote to adopt the changes at their board meeting in Vancouver. Thereafter, existing Chapters will then vote electronically on suspending their separate bylaws in favor of Article 6 of the Section Bylaws. If the Bylaws pass, the first officer election under the new Bylaws will occur in December/January.
If a member would like to propose changes to the proposed new Bylaws for Sections and Chapters, feel free to send your comments or suggestions to the SRAI President at: president@srainternational.org. Or, feel free to contact your Section President with any questions or concerns.

Respectfully submitted by:

Cindy Kiel, JD
President, SRAI