Greetings to all on these final days of 2020! The purpose of today’s blog is to give an update on November Project’s Board of Directors. Although I feel like I may have lost a fair amount of readers with that absolutely tantalizing intro sentence, I certainly hope you read on and learn about November Project as a nonprofit organization and the search process for the new board of directors. TL;DR — new board coming 2/1/2021.
First, an introduction, because NP HQ did not write this blog. Can’t you tell? I’ve already had like two good jokes.
My name is Emma Cowan-Young, I am a co-leader of November Project DC and president of the November Project board search committee. I’ve been coming to November Project workouts for going on five years, and leading for just over two. Outside of NP leadership, my full-time job involves managing inclusion and accessibility at a large nonprofit, and my Master’s degree is in nonprofit management and administration. The not-for-profit world is one I enjoy and am very familiar with. Much like everyone in this community, November Project is a significant part of my life, and I’m excited to play a role in the development of its future.
November Project transitioned from an LLC to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization near the end of 2018. For those who are not as familiar, nonprofit organizations have a few key features: 1) they are exempt from paying taxes, 2) any money made must be put back into the organization’s mission and activities, and 3) they must benefit the public in some way. I think it’s safe to say that November Project benefits the public in about a million ways– health, fitness, community building, and human connection (all for zero dollars) being just a few of them.
Not only is a board of directors required for a nonprofit organization, but a board is instrumental in its success because they provide strategic guidance, oversight, and accountability. Unlike a co-leader role or a committee that may be formed within an NP community (such as a social committee), a nonprofit board is different because they have a fiduciary responsibility, both legal and ethical, as representatives of the organization.
Nonprofits are governed by bylaws that are written prior to incorporation. They can be changed by the board, but the idea is for the bylaws to largely stay the same and act as the core pillars of the organization. They are long, pretty wordy, and are written in what I would describe as legalese, but they are incredibly important. I wanted to mention a few of November Project’s bylaws that are relevant to the board, as they were kept in mind during the board search process.
- The board must have a minimum of three people, a maximum of 11, and an odd number is preferred for voting purposes
- Board members have two-year terms, unless a shorter term is negotiated
- Board members search for and vote on board member replacements
- Board members cannot be paid for their work on the board
November Project’s current board members’ terms end on 12/31/2020, with a new board term beginning on 1/1/2021.
In early November, when the board search committee was formed (more on that in the next section), we had just about six weeks, including holidays, to form a process, think of candidates, solicit those candidates, and have them in place and ready to serve. This is expedited and significantly shorter than a typical board search process. As we got through the first few weeks of planning, it became clear that we would not be able to execute a well-thought-out plan and conduct a thorough search of candidates by 12/31/2020. It was determined by the search committee that we would extend the new board’s installment to 2/1/2021, giving the committee an additional month to complete the process. If for any reason this timeline changes, we will make it known and be transparent about why.
It is stated in November Project’s bylaws that there must be a minimum of three members on the board at any given time. Co-founders Bojan Mandaric and Brogan Graham already serve on the board, and were asked to serve an extra month on the board, which gave us two members. The search committee agreed that I would serve as the third board member for the month of January as we wrap up the search process. Starting 2/1/2021, when the new board is in place, I will no longer be a board member.
BOARD SEARCH PROCESS
The purpose behind this lengthy blog is to provide transparency about the board search process, which is crucial for November Project stakeholders to trust that those leading this effort are keeping the best interests of the organization in mind throughout the process.
Back in November, NP HQ put out a call to all current co-leaders asking for volunteers to be a part of the NP board search committee. Eight co-leaders plus NP HQ (Brogan + Bojan) make up the ten-person committee:
- Bojan Mandaric, founder & current board member (November Project HQ)
- Brogan Graham, founder & current board member (November Project HQ)
- Emma Cowan-Young, committee President (November Project DC)
- Emily Saul (November Project Boston)
- Eugene Kim (November Project San Diego)
- Katie Montemayor (November Project Scioto Mile)
- Maggie Huang (November Project Brooklyn)
- Maria Randazzo (November Project DC)
- Meghan Magee (November Project Portland)
- Sat Kartar Khalsa (November Project Scioto Mile)
At our first meeting, I was selected as president of the committee by anonymous vote. The search committee meets weekly, and all co-leaders have been apprised of board search updates in the weekly email newsletter we receive.
Some of our initial discussions took place without Brogan and Bojan present, as we felt it was important to have a space to bring up thoughts and suggestions without the co-founders of the organization on the call. Bojan and Brogan were in full support of this.
The committee made a list of questions for Brogan and Bojan about their vision for the future of November Project, what types of skill sets they wish they had available to them, and in which areas they felt they needed support and guidance. We used Bojan and Brogan’s answers to these questions as a starting point for drafting different areas of expertise that should be represented on the board.
We continued to define these areas of support over the course of our meetings, and drafted descriptions for nine areas that we felt November Project needs in order to be successful in the next phase of the organization. It is important to note that we are not intending for one person to represent each of these areas, as one person may possess multiple areas of expertise and experience, but it is this list that we will use in determining who is the best fit to sit on the board.
For All Board Members: Board members are committed to building a new foundation of November Project that will usher in a new generation of community-based fitness, one that upholds ideals of Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion, that offers not-for-profit community-based programming, and is operationally and financially sustainable. Board members will be expected to embody November Project’s Community Guidelines themselves and also commit to upholding organizational integrity by providing oversight and accountability. November Project board members will offer their expertise and be ready to work in active, hands-on capacity to help the community continue to develop and grow.
Legal: Ability to provide hands-on legal expertise for November Project. Knowledge of US nonprofit structure and legal obligations, and comfortability with offering legal guidance on various topics that arise within the organization.
Finance & Accounting: Strategic guidance on creating a financially sustainable organization, diversifying funding sources, and developing plans for short term and long term fundraising as well as sponsorship opportunities.
Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, & Inclusion: Guidance and vision on developing and fostering a culture where everyone feels like they belong and can be exactly who they are. Offer guidance on how to create a space where people of all identities can grow, set goals, and be the best version of themselves every day. Help identify the areas where November Project is struggling, and help promote the areas where it is succeeding. Elevate different perspectives and experiences of diverse communities in the fitness industry and beyond.
Nonprofit Management: First-hand experience in the logistical management, process, and programming associated with nonprofit organizations. Support in creating a culture of fundraising so new programs can be developed and existing programs can continue. Advise on developing a strategic plan and vision for November Project.
Leadership Development: Support in creating a system to cultivate, engage, and provide training for the 100+ (and counting) volunteer co-leaders around the world. Offer guidance on professional development and skill-building for co-leaders and full-time employees so they have the tools to lead with confidence and a mindset of inclusivity.
Marketing & Brand Development: Skills and experience in marketing, public relations, communication, and brand development. Support November Project in creating strategic marketing and communications plans to ensure that the organization is reaching as many people, in as many places, in as many different communities as possible. Guidance in responding to current events and what is happening in the world.
Technology: With the shift to primarily virtual workouts, November Project seeks guidance on how to continue to promote community building, sweat-inducing workouts, and human connection through a screen when in-person workouts and events cannot be accomplished safely.
Fitness: Knowledge of and experience in the fitness, health, and wellness industries. Ability to help November Project nimbly navigate the industry and build programming while maintaining what sets November Project apart from other fitness companies and organizations. A vision to guide November Project towards becoming a more Community-oriented and holistic movement, not only as a way to get fit. Understands that fitness and exercise can take many different forms, and is not limited to running and racing.
November Project: Personal experience with November Project in some capacity (member, former member, co-leader, former co-leader, etc.). Intimately understands the organization and what makes it unique, as well as where it can improve. Appreciates the dynamic and flexible nature of November Project and is interested in helping to shape the future of the organization, understanding that it will look different from how it began and even how it looks today.
The committee has been doing research on individuals who fit the descriptions we developed and gathering ideas for who would be the best people to solicit to be on the board. We are in the midst of narrowing down a list of potential candidates, and the committee will spend the bulk of January reaching out to these individuals. Once board members have been selected and agree to serve, they will be provided with a Board Member Expectation document (in process) which they will be asked to sign before their term begins.
Thanks for taking the time to read this update, and for being a part of November Project as we work to strengthen and change this community for the better. November Project exists because of those who #JustShowUp, and we need that now more than ever.
Here’s to 2021,
P.S. If you have questions about the board or search process that were not addressed in this blog, please submit them using November Project’s anonymous feedback form.Share via socials: