Boards & Commissions: June in Review


Written by Toni Belknap-Brinegar, CVI’s Boards & Commissions Coordinator. To receive this monthly update directly in your inbox, sign up for the Boards & Commissions monthly newsletter.

On the Docket: The Final Stretch!! 

The final online learning on June 3rd introduced the concept of affinity groups. An affinity group is “a group of people linked by a common interest or purpose.” The facilitators introduced themselves to the fellows, and encouraged them to self-select the breakout room based on what they wanted to learn from each group and facilitator. For example, if a fellow holds an identity as LGBTQ, they would have selected the Affinity group with Dr. Alex Zamora (President of Caldwell Planning and Zoning Commission).

Why end our months-long learning with affinity groups? Because our fellows possess a multitude of identities that may or may not have had access to public decision making spaces. It is imperative for each person to feel prepared for what’s in store for them once they enter these spaces. Participating in affinity group sharing helps the fellows see themselves in the people who are already serving in public ways, as well as connect them to someone they can rely on if they have questions or concerns in the future. 

2023 Affinity Group Leaders: 

  • Dr. Alejandro “Alex” Zamora, Caldwell Planning and Zoning 
  • Antonio Hernandez, Executive Director of Idaho Investor Network
  • Toni Belknap-Brinegar, Conservation Voters for Idaho Education Fund  
  • Ryan McGodrick, Conservation Voters for Idaho
  • Maria Quitugua, PERSI and AANHPI Leader 

Old Business: 2023 Graduation

It is with great pride that I announce that 23 fellows successfully completed the 2023 Boards and Commissions class! Our biggest cohort yet, we had fellows hail from as far as Driggs and Emmett as well as included Treasure Valley leaders from Boise and Meridian. Many of the fellows were able to attend graduation on June 10th at Beside Bardenay in Boise. This year, we were privileged to invite Jane White, CVI board member and a graduate of our inaugural program in 2021, to welcome everyone to the ceremony. 2021 graduate and current Vice President of the Boise Parks & Recreation Commission Shari Baber gave our keynote address.2022 graduate and current CVI board member Renee Hill concluded the ceremony.

Thank you to everyone who attended our graduation ceremony! And a huge thank you to the CVI staff members who worked behind the scenes to create an amazing event. We are so grateful to have offered this celebration for all of the fellows who volunteered their time to learn throughout the past six months. 

Here is a taste of the opportunities many of our fellows are pursuing post-graduation: 

  • Sharayah Sherry – Anser Charter 
  • Carol Sevier – Anser Charter and Reclaim Idaho (volunteer signature gathering) 
  • Shelly Buchanan – Meridian Design Review Commission 
  • Florina Ruvio – Caldwell Planning and Zoning Commission 
  • Laura Villegas Ortiz – Nampa Planning and Zoning 

Over the next month, I will meet with each fellow and make a plan for what they need to feel ready to apply for a public board and commission, as well as check in with the graduates of the 2022 and 2021 cohorts.

New Business: Saying Goodbye

Thanks to your generous donations, this is the first year the Boards and Commissions program has had two employees – myself and DJ Stephens. DJ came on in October as a part-time temporary employee to forge the way as the first ever Boards and Commissions Specialist. Even though he was initially unfamiliar with the program, he was a quick study and jumped in with both feet. He assisted me with all of the program logistics as well as assisted with facilitating during the meetings. This was especially helpful during the online meetings where he assisted with ensuring the fellows had the correct Zoom credentials and answered questions they had throughout the meeting.  Having DJ was such a value-added experience! Thank you DJ for lending your time and talents to CVIEF and to this program!