On the Docket: Looking Toward the Future
With the completion of our 2022 Fellowship Program, I’m on the hunt for new recruits! 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). The influx of people from outside of Idaho is slowing, but is still occuring at a rapid rate:
“The Coeur d’Alene metro area came in at number two on the list, with 4.1% population growth and 7,143 new residents. The Treasure Valley came in slightly lower in the ranking at number 6 with 3.3% growth, but the bigger population means a lower percentage of growth still brought in 25,687 new residents” from 2021 to 2022 Boise Dev April 2022
Some people are yearning for the Idaho where small towns abound and a slow-paced lifestyle is the norm. Others feel that growth infuses the hope of new ideas and brings eagerness to make Idaho a place where everyone can thrive. My Idaho (the one that I grew up in the rural Owyhee County) is the Idaho where everyone is welcome, where neighbors know one another and people work together to make Idaho a great place to live. There is room for everyone – every person and perspective. So, off I go to see who is excited about the prospect of participating in democracy in Idaho.
I’ve been meeting with interested individuals since March, and I am pleased to have a few folks who are preparing to apply for the 2023 cohort.
Cortnie Brown is a resident of Meridian and a Political Science graduate from Boise State University. She knows that she wants to be at the decision making table but isn’t sure she wants to run for public office. An appointment to a public board or commission is her first step to use all she has learned in college about how governments work. She says that the variety of ways that countries carry out decision making fascinates her and she wants to experience it herself. In her free time, she spends time with her two children (7yrs and 2yrs) and is planning a cross country roadtrip to Virginia soon.
“This fellowship is an awesome opportunity to be able to chase my passions. I hope to be able to make a positive impact on my community and pave even just a small portion of the road for future generations.” Cortnie Brown, Meridian
Additionally, I’ve been in touch with Laura Villegas Ortiz, who is based in Nampa. She currently works for an innovative conservation organization. Her parents settled in Idaho and both are health care providers. She has decided that Idaho is a wonderful place to live and she wants to give back to her community.
“I want to make Idaho my home and contribute with my energy and experience to the genuine efforts of community-building.“
Laura Villegas Ortiz, Nampa
I will head to eastern and northern Idaho in September and October. If you would like to meet with me, schedule a house party to promote the program or just want to learn more, please email me at: email@example.com or call or text me at 208-703-3063.
2022 Boards and Commissions Fellowship Graduates
Graduation doesn’t mean the end of my work with each Fellowship. I continue to meet with both the 2021 and 2022 Boards and Commissions graduates to see how to best support them in their respective leadership journeys, by providing advice, resources, networking opportunities or even just encouragement. Our hope is each of them will take what they learned and put it to good use in Idaho public boards and commissions service.
We have another Fellow who has an application into a public board and commission: Linda Mazzu. She hopes to lend her deep knowledge of public lands to the Boise Parks and Recreation Commission. She has heard back from the Mayor’s office and hopes to have an interview soon.
Jaime Lima is doing his due diligence in researching the Idaho Athletic Commission since he is passionate about boxing. He hopes to make contact with current commissioners to get a better understanding of how the board works and how his gifts and talents could lend themselves to board service.
This month, I’m having one-on-one meetings with the Fellows to explore what their next steps are in terms of applying to boards and commissions. In addition, I’m sending out a survey to the Fellows to ask for their feedback on the program and suggestions for improvement. This information is also reviewed during the face-to-face meetings because we are on this learning journey together.
I have so much gratitude for the donation of time by the Fellows, Mentors, Speakers, my CVI coworkers and many supporters of the Boards and Commissions program. Time is our most valuable resource and I appreciate all of you in being so generous with giving this gift to myself and each other.