A Q&A for the Board Curious

August 1, 2019

By Elaine Duncan

Anyone who wants to know more about serving on the Guild’s board of directors is invited to an open board meeting on Monday, August 12, 6:30 p.m. Email Elaine@edsguild.org or editor@aliciazramos.com to let us know you’re coming and get location details. Until then, current Guild president Elaine Duncan discusses why members should consider board service in 2020 and answers the most frequently asked questions.

UPDATE: The next board recruitment happy hour is Monday, August 26 in Seattle. Full details on our events page.

Can I serve on the board?

Of course! The Guild is an all-volunteer organization blessed with incredible richness in the skills of its members, all of whom collectively have helped make it what it is today. We are on a sound financial footing, have a well-developed committee structure to accomplish our work, and have a solid five-year strategic plan to guide our efforts. New projects are in the works: expanded outreach, a revitalized speaker’s bureau, and a new marketing plan, to name a few. We meet as a board just six times per year, but the real work of running the Guild occurs in the handful of committees that offer a wide range of opportunities for contribution. The details are described in our current FAQs for Prospective Board Members.

Why would I want to serve on the board?

Here are some reasons:

Board service is fun. You get the opportunity to meet and work with a range of friendly people who share your interest in editing. You will learn more about the editing profession in the Pacific Northwest and how other writers and editors approach their craft.

It’s fulfilling. Everyone brings something different to board service, but more important, everyone takes away something different. You will grow as a person and an editor, make new friends, develop confidence in new skills, and know that you have made the Guild better by your contribution.

It’s brief. We ask for a two-year commitment, starting in January. You will see that change happens incrementally as board members come and go, which helps keep things on an even keel. Just as personalities on the board change, the collective wisdom and our detailed documentation on the functions of all the varied board roles help keep the Guild on track.

No prior experience necessary. We will fill you in on the nuts and bolts of serving on a board and what is expected in the roles you choose. It is our diversity—in perspectives, work experience, background, and skills—that makes things happen. Like to keep notes? Tinker with budgets? Contribute to social media or post blogs? Want to try developing a webinar? Videotaping member meetings? Build new relationships? Offer your opinions on Guild direction? Then, by all means, we need you! But by the same token, you don’t need to be an expert in anything: just be willing to contribute some time, energy, and thought.

You could be president. If you like thinking ahead, serving on the board makes you eligible to be president after just one year (or more, of course).

Heavens! Why would anyone want to be president?

Well, if you have never done that before, it can be a great opportunity to develop some of those new skills mentioned above. And if you have presided over some other organization, here’s a chance to do it in a different context and expand your expertise. From my perspective as well as those of a handful of recent presidents, here are some other advantages of serving as president:

  • You get a 10,000-foot view of the editing profession in the Pacific Northwest. Past presidents have found this perspective to be personally gratifying (in terms of community) and professionally useful.
  • You become the cheerleader-in-chief for the Guild. Seeing how the work of dedicated, smart, and compassionate volunteers laid the foundation for the Guild and continues its development makes you really appreciate this organization. You become the face of the Guild to the public, often with gratifying results.
  • You provide direction to the board. Part of the role of president is to check in with other members and volunteers to make sure things are running smoothly, resources are adequately deployed, and people have the support or answers they need. Friendships and camaraderie can be your personal dividends.
  • You have the ability to effect change. Is there some aspect of Guild operation or direction that you think could be improved? Being president puts you in the ideal position to scope out this improvement, think about how it might be shaped and accomplished, and generate enthusiasm for the change.

How can I find out more?

The 2020 board-recruiting season is just starting. We will host several happy hours in late summer and early fall to give people information about board service and the opportunity to ask questions of current board members. We will also open our August and October board meetings to prospective members so they can observe a meeting and see how we work. Plus, we always post our board meeting minutes on the website, so you can read those at your leisure.

Please contact any board member with questions, and join us at one of these events!

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Elaine Duncan

After practicing law in California for almost thirty years, I retired and moved to Seattle in 2012. Having always loved the process of writing and editing, I joined the Guild. It was a great way to meet people, and one of the members encouraged me to enroll in the University of Washington editing program, which I did. I started freelancing and then joined the Guild board as treasurer for two years, member-at-large for one year, and then president in 2019. Joining the Guild and then serving on its board have been instrumental in helping me feel grounded in Seattle. I love contributing to this organization and meeting people who enjoy it as well. Aside from editing, I like walking around Cougar Mountain with my dog, Anya, visiting Washington wineries, and trying to be a tourist in Seattle.