Boards & Commissions Fellowship: February in Review

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On the Docket: Effective Communication

Effective communication is essential to public leadership, and leads to positive experience in service of a board or commission. This month, our material was centered on creating strong communication skills and using those skills to interact with constituents. To compound the educational content, we also provided our fellows with an opportunity to connect with active public servants in order to practice what they had learned.  

Our fellows continue to learn about diversity, equity and inclusion, expanding knowledge about how inequities have led to issues such as “the luxury effect,” first introduced in this video by Science Magazine. The Fellows discussed this material, examining the question, “Who is missing from this conversation?” and its importance for making decisions as leaders. Often in leadership, the perspective with the loudest voices receives the most consideration. The role of public leaders is to consider all voices, and recognize the impact that a decision will have on the entire community. 

This month’s homework encouraged each Fellow to research three boards and commissions that personally interests them. There are 198 state boards and commissions that are appointed by the Governor and multiple local boards, commissions and committees that are appointed by local decision-making bodies (mayors, city councils and/or county commissioners). The results of their research was shared in small groups to expose Fellows to the many opportunities available once they are prepared to serve. 

Let’s Talk Shop: February Guest Presenters

This month, our fellows learned from three presenters on varying topics:

  • Jane White, 2021 Fellowship Graduate
    Jane White is a graduate of the CVI Boards & Commissions Fellowship Program. She currently works as Learning and Development Manager for UMOM New Day Centers in Phoenix, Arizona, a leading provider of services for those experiencing homelessness. Additionally, she volunteers as a docent for the Pueblo Grande Archaeological Museum and Park in Phoenix. Jane presented on using effective communication for beneficial outcomes.
  • Laura Soldati, Owner and Chief Strategist of The [L] Agency, LLC
    Laura operates a public relations consulting firm specializing in strategic communications and content development for high-profile institutions and individuals in the nation, including the United Nations Development Program. Laura also teaches marketing, community engagement, and leadership development workshops around the country. Laura presented on community and board relations, such as making information transparent and the difference between personal and public messaging.
  • Adán de la Paz, International Student Services and Inclusion & Intercultural Engagement Advisor, College of Idaho
    You may remember Adán; we introduced him in last month’s newsletter. He co-leads all programming to advance underrepresented domestic and international student engagement and advocacy, and assisted in the restructure of the College’s Council on Diversity & Inclusion. Adán continues to present on topics surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion and provide resources on these subjects.

In addition to these presenters, we were pleased to have several community leaders join us for small group discussions with our Fellows. 

  • Meredith Stead, Chair of Boise Planning and Zoning Commission 
  • Jessica Aguilar, Member of Boise Design Review Commission 
  • Victor Rodriguez, Nampa City Council
  • Linda Leeuwrik, Pocatello City Council

For many Fellows, this was an opportunity to speak with elected and appointed public leaders for the first time. One Fellow remarked that she was surprised that the elected folks were just like everyone else, which is encouraging: a priority of our Fellowship program is to show the Fellows that they, too, can serve.

Next Up:

In the month of March, we will begin transitioning into the technical side of public leadership, including the logistics of participating in board and commission meetings such as:

  • Open Meeting Law: what can and cannot be done in open meeting versus executive session under current Idaho law. 
  • Parliamentary Procedure: the importance of keeping order during meetings; practice and preparation for public meetings. 
  • Public Lands: the history of public lands in Idaho as well as the difference in public versus private land. 
  • In-Person Meetings: In March, the Fellows will have the opportunity to meet with elected and appointed officials in their local area to discuss what it’s like to serve in their respective cities.  

Quotes of the Month: 

  •  “The role of a public figure is to educate, engage and inform their constituents. Don’t assume the public knows what you know.”
    -Laura Soldati, Owner & Chief Strategist at The L Agency
  • “There is a lot of collective genius in this room which comes from life experience.”  –Adan de la Paz, International Student Services and Inclusion & Intercultural Engagement Advisor, College of Idaho