Boards & Commissions: July In Review

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Written by Toni Belknap-Brinegar, CVI’s Boards & Commissions Coordinator. To receive this monthly program update in your inbox, visit

On the Docket: Looking Toward the Future

With the completion of our 2023 Fellowship Program, I’m on the hunt for new recruits for next year’s cohort! The public boards and commissions of Idaho need an infusion of new ideas, new perspectives and new people. Currently, most positions on city and county boards are held by men. While this is not inherently negative, research shows that equitable decision making requires representation by many people from the entire community. 

Compared to individual decision makers, all-male teams make better business decisions 58% of the time, while gender diverse teams do so 73% of the time. Teams that also include a wide range of ages and different geographic locations make better business decisions 87% of the time.”

As Idaho’s population grows, so does diversity. The 2020 census results showed a dramatic increase in the number of Idahoans who identify as Black, Hispanic, Asian and other races. Idaho’s largest minority group in Idaho is Hispanic/Latinx, with 40% of the total Latinx population under the age of 20 years old (2021 Hispanic Profile Book, page 27).

This means everyone reading this newsletter knows someone who would qualify for the boards and commissions fellowship! Please consider forwarding this email along with an encouraging word to schedule a face-to-face meeting with me.

Old Business: 2023 Grads

Margaret Szeles has taken the brave leap to go on to bigger and better things!  She will leave Idaho this month and head to Seattle to go to law school. Even before she left, however, she was researching boards and commissions she could engage with in that area.  She says: 

“I will be taking my passion for the intersection of environmental justice, land-use law, and transportation planning to Seattle where I will pursue my JD at the University of Washington School of Law. With the knowledge and experience I’ve gained from the CVI Boards and Commissions Fellowship, I look forward to engaging with and serving on a board or commission to further environmental conservation work and multi-modal transportation efforts in Seattle.”

Rachel Martin lives in Emmett and has spent her entire career flying planes. While she initially was intrigued by the idea of serving on a different style of board, she has turned her focus back into what she knows: safety while flying. She has already attended meetings for the Caldwell Airport Commission and did her research on whether she would be eligible for three different airport commissions in the area. Rachel (featured on the left) is planning on reaching out to a board member for a meeting and then submitting an application before the end of this year. Additionally, her partner, Jackie (featured on the right), has a lot of knowledge about Emmett and what it was like growing up in Emmett and using special education services within the Emmett school systems. Both Rachel and I agree, Jackie’s perspective as a hometown girl as well as her passion for kids like her makes her an ideal candidate for a public board. We’ll keep working on her in hopes she will join the 2024 class of fellows. 

New Business: Upcoming Events 

The Boards and Commissions Program along with other CVI programs will be at some events, so come see us!  

August 12th – Boise Soul Food Festival : Come see us at Julia Davis Park in Boise from 11am – 8pm.  I should be there for most of the day, so if you know someone who needs to know about the boards and commissions fellowship, come on down!  

September 14th – Green Tie Come support all of CVI/CVIEF’s programs through our annual fundraiser, Green Tie.  This year, we will host at Hotel 500 in downtown Boise. Tickets will be on sale soon, so stay tuned to CVI’s social media for more information. 

Come Work With Us!

CVI is hiring a full-time Program Associate to support our programs, including the Boards & Commissions program as well as our clean energy, land, and water work. If you’ve followed along in this newsletter awhile, you’ve seen not only how vital this program is to Idaho’s communities, but how much time and effort is dedicated to creating the best experience possible for our fellows. If you want to be a part of this life-changing program and more incredible work for Idaho’s future, learn more about our Program Associate opportunity here.

A Change of Venue 

The evaluations of the 2023 fellows were clear: they want to see and spend time with one another! To give the next class an opportunity to experience one another, we will be shifting from an on-line training to mostly in-person training. Because of this change, we will be prioritizing applicants within  the Treasure Valley, the Wood River Valley and the Magic Valley. As this program evolves, we will make plans of what it will take to host trainings in Northern and Eastern Idaho. If you live in these areas, take heart! I’ll still be coming to you to seek out interested folks so we can continue to grow our statewide presence. We will also build our technology over the next year so we can offer a hybrid training for future fellowships. Idaho is a vast and diverse state filled with intelligent and interesting people to find and engage!  

Thanks for reading!! If you would like to meet with me, promote the program or just want to learn more, please email me at: