Boards & Commissions Program: May in Review

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On the Docket: How Decisions are Made 
The fifth month of learning is where the rubber meets the road. Our first session this month was dedicated to learning about how leadership entities earn the authority to make decisions. Jim Baugh, former DisAbility Rights Idaho Executive Director, walked the fellows through this information and encouraged them to do their own research on the statutory requirements of each body they are appointed to, in order to ensure they are making decisions according to the law, code or statute. 

Mock hearings were held in Twin Falls, Idaho Falls and Boise. The fellows were assigned to a decision making body (for example, Boise City Council) and had to work together through an agenda, including a presentation and public comment about a relevant issue (for example, Interfaith Sanctuary’s move to State Street in Boise). While the issue and public comments were all staged by their fellow participants, the fellows still got a glimpse of the reality of being in the “hot seat” when contentious issues are being decided. In addition, we discussed water issues in Idaho, and how they impact rural and urban communities.

CVI Fellows Robin Wyatt, Clairemarie Owens, Kathryn Jones, and Karla Harmon act as the Boise City Council in a mock hearing.

Mock Hearings 
Three mock hearings were held across southern Idaho: 

  • May 17th in Twin Falls Planning and Zoning Commission chambers; Fellows simulated the Twin Falls City Council 
  • May 19th in Idaho Falls College of Eastern Idaho Trustee chambers; Fellows simulated the Idaho Falls City Council 
  • May 21st in Boise at Boise City Council chambers; Fellows simulated the Boise City Council and Boise School Board  

Fellows in each  location were provided one agenda item to work through and take public testimony. For instance, the mock Twin Falls City Council had to listen to a developer make a pitch to purchase Candy Cane Park in order to develop low-income housing. Mentor and former Twin Falls Planning and Zoning Chairman Tato Munoz  posed as a concerned citizen and gave public testimony in opposition to the proposal. Fellows Winnie Christensen, Rynca Essokodimba, Tamara Harmon and CeCe Osborn had the opportunity to get a glimpse of public leadership; the hearing required them to debate and make a decision in a public setting. All felt it was a challenge, but also an empowering experience.

DEI Learning
For diversity, equity, and inclusion topics this month, the fellows reviewed three short animated films (Purl, Drawn to You, and My Shadow is Pink) and then talked about the complexities of each regarding inclusivity and acceptance in regards to gender and sexual orientation.

The fellows explored the following questions:: 

  1. What thoughts, feelings, emotions did each video cause for you? Why?
  2. Were there any moments of sudden insight or discovery? What threads of connection could be made with your lived experience?
  3. There are numerous resources related to these identity dimensions.  

We encourage all of you to pick one of these short films, watch it and tell us your thoughts about its message.  

On the Road: Recruitment
I traveled to Moscow to see whether North Idaho is ready to dive into the fellowship for the 2023 session. I met with some amazing folks who call Moscow home. Everyone I met with was very welcoming and knew others who would jump at the chance to participate in the fellowship next year. If you know of people in your area who’d like to know more, please reach out to me!  

Dr. Lynda Freeman currently works at the University of Idaho, while Dr. Jessica Samuels is moving from the University of Idaho TRIO program to Washington State University to start a Black/African Student Center. Mario is the Director of the U of I’s Black/African Student Center, which just opened this year. His goal is to meet the needs of this population of students as well as recruit others to U of I. He comes from Boise State University and is a proud veteran of the US Army.  He also graduated with his Masters in Education Leadership from Boise State University this month!  Congratulations, Mario!

Meet the Presenters
Jim Baugh, retired Executive Director, DisAbility Rights Idaho
Jim served as a civil rights attorney for over 40 years specializing in disability rights. For about 20 years, he worked primarily in public policy–mostly the Idaho legislature and state agency rulemaking. He retired from being the Executive Director of DisAbility Rights Idaho in 2019. He currently serves as a Boards and Commissions Fellowship Mentor.

Dr. Sophie Borgias, Assistant Professor, Boise State University
Dr. Sophia Borgias is a human-environment geographer whose research and teaching focuses on water and environmental governance in the arid Americas. Her most recent research has focused on conflicts over rural-urban water transfers in the Great Basin region, as well as the “unlikely alliances” of environmentalists, ranchers, and Tribes that have formed to protect rural landscapes and livelihoods from their impacts.

 Adan de la Paz, International Student Services and Inclusion & Intercultural Engagement Advisor, College of Idaho
You may remember Adán; he is a regular presenter for our 2022 Fellowship. He co-leads all programming to advance underrepresented domestic and international student engagement and advocacy. Adán also assisted in the restructuring of the college’s Council on Diversity & Inclusion. He continues to present on topics surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion, and provide resources on these subjects.

The Final Stretch!
Our graduation ceremony for the 2022 Fellowship Program will be held on Saturday, June 18th at the Linen Building in Boise. I am looking forward to celebrating each of the fellows and their dedication to this program. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP with Cami Otter.

Quote of the month: 
“You want to be a river, you don’t want to be a puddle.” 
~ Jaime Lima, Fellow, Boise (on the topic of self growth)