Officers and Appointed Leaders
Each officer in an organization has specific duties and obligations, and each one should be aware of his or her relationship with the others. While the bylaws give some direction to the officers, it is suggested that detailed job descriptions be developed for each officer and important committee chairs. This insures the business of each chapter will proceed smoothly from one term to the next. It can be helpful when the officers, directors, and committee chairpersons discuss these job descriptions annually, set goals and make specific plans for the coming year.
Each chapter must have its own specific bylaws concerning officers, such as who may be an officer, how many offices can be held, etc. It is not uncommon for bylaws to vary from chapter to chapter. Each new administration of the chapter should meet to determine its own key objectives, with a master schedule of necessary functions kept on file. To develop a schedule, check the constitution and bylaws, and previous minutes, or ask last year’s officers.
The president is the key to a well-run chapter. He or she should be skilled at delegating responsibility without losing authority, should conduct meetings in an orderly fashion, and give each member fair opportunity to discuss and vote so the democratic process is achieved for a proper and purposeful outcome. The president should be dedicated to the ideals of the society and be willing to work hard.
It is essential that a president be thoroughly knowledgeable about the chapter’s history, purpose and current activities. A new president should prepare for the office by reviewing both the chapter and International constitution and bylaws, and by studying all files and past meeting reports. The president should also take time to reflect on personal goals and aspirations for the forthcoming term and communicate them to the chapter’s Board and the membership. All committee or officer appointments as provided in the bylaws should be made in a responsible manner. All directors should be elected. Thorough knowledge and appropriate use of parliamentary procedure is a must.
A specific duty of the president includes establishing an agenda before each meeting in time for it to be shared with the membership. The president is ultimately responsible for providing a comfortable, convenient physical setting for the meeting. The president should bring to each meeting a copy of the chapter’s constitution and/or bylaws, a copy of the parliamentary authority, a quick reference card of motions in order of precedence, a list of all committees and committee assignments, and the agenda of business to be transacted.
Occasionally problems arise if a member of the Board is inactive or aloof from decision-making. The president should be alert to these situations and try to solve them satisfactorily. Such a predicament should not occur, however, as each officer, director and committee chair should be responsible enough to tender resignation if, for whatever reason, duties of the office cannot be fulfilled.
The vice president should have the same qualifications as the president and assumes the office if it becomes vacant, unless otherwise stipulated in the bylaws. Many chapters traditionally use the vice presidency as a training post for the presidency.
The vice president may serve in any number of leadership and managerial ways and frequently the vice president serves as program chair, an important function for the vitality of a chapter. As such, the vice president may want to work with a committee and/or receive membership input as to desirable programs to plan. Past programs should be reviewed to avoid duplication, and the schedule should be established well in advance. The program chair should make definite commitments with outside speakers to include any compensation, including travel, housing or meals, and inquire if any special equipment such as computers or projectors should be provided. If arrangements are made far in advance, verification and reminders should be made closer to time. It is always prudent to have some backup plans in case of emergency. The agenda for the meeting can be set so the program comes first, to save the guest from having to sit through chapter business.
The program chair should arrange for advance program promotion, meet the speaker, make introductions, thank the speaker afterwards–both at the conclusion of the program and later by mail.
The secretary keeps the business records of the chapter, including taking notes of proceedings, writing them as formal minutes, preserving them and reading them at the next meeting. The secretary also maintains an accurate list of membership, a file of reports of boards and committees, a list of current business for agenda preparation, and a reference book containing the constitution and bylaws, standing rules, photocopies of the charter, tax-exemption letters and contracts. If a chapter has a safety deposit box, the secretary should also keep the location and number of its keys, and a list of the contents of the box.
The secretary should receive and respond to all general correspondence and inquiries. (Officers attend to correspondence directly related to their work, as do committee chairs.) Besides reading correspondence at the meetings as directed by the president, the secretary should maintain files of all correspondence along with copies of letters received for as long as practical and necessary. The secretary may also be in charge of sending appropriate cards and letters for illness, sympathy, birthdays and thank you’s. Unless the chapter makes other provisions, the secretary prepares and distributes the agenda both for Board meetings and for regular meetings, notifies the chapter officers, directors and general membership of meetings, and provides the necessary chapter program promotion. As appropriate, the secretary also notifies chapter members who may have been absent of any nomination or appointment to committees or other services.
Functions of the secretary include working with the treasurer and/or assisting the International office with keeping accurate member records. Oftentimes, the chapter secretary will learn of address or email changes before the International office will.
The treasurer is custodian of a chapter’s money. Bonding is recommended if large sums are handled. Specific duties vary from chapter to chapter, but common to all is the fact that the treasurer receives funds and disburses them. Therefore, essential items for the treasurer are an account book, checkbook, receipt book, and file.
The president should countersign checks. Signatures of the vice president and secretary should also be on file at the bank for use in emergencies. The treasurer is usually authorized to pay routine bills that have been budgeted and approved, but large items and other requests should have special approval by the Board. Receipts should be given and received whenever money changes hands.
Bookkeeping and auditing practices usually depend on the size of the chapter, but generally for small chapters a simple system is sufficient. Record of all receipts, deposits and disbursements should be accurate and up-to-date, and the checkbook should be balanced monthly. At each regular business meeting, the treasurer should give the balance on hand at the beginning and end of the reporting period. A detailed audited report showing an itemized list of receipts and disbursements should be submitted at the annual meeting–which is usually the final meeting of the year.
One or more independent auditors may be elected or appointed by the chapter to look over the books before the final report at the annual meeting. This measure is for the protection of the treasurer as well as for the good of the chapter.
The treasurer’s report is never approved by the Board or membership. Only auditors can approve what the treasurer does. Instead, after the report is given, the president simply says, ‘You have heard the treasurer’s report; it will be placed on file.” At the annual meeting after the audited report is given, the president calls for a motion to accept the report. If the treasurer’s report is cited as in error, the treasurer is directed to correct it.