By Don Crawford, F11012
National Vice President, Great Lakes Area
FMCA’s Executive Committee carries out policies set forth by the Governing Board and helps to formulate those policies so that the executive director and department directors then can lead staff members in carrying them out.
How does the Executive Committee function? Who are the members of the committee? How do they get along? Are there cliques? Are there private agendas? Do they forget they must act in the best interests of our members? Is the FMCA national president a strong person? Can he make the whole Executive Committee pull together as a team? Do they know the difference between having a “right” to do something and doing the “right” thing?
From my perspective as a national vice president, partway through my second term, let’s see if I can answer some of these questions and help you to understand how your Executive Committee works.
Before I do that, it is important that you realize that much of the Executive Committee’s work is done by various committees. These committees include two or three members of the Executive Committee who serve along with people drawn from the general membership. For example, I am chairman of the Policy and Procedure Committee. Ginger Painter, F23514, national vice president, International Area, is the other Executive Committee member on this committee. The lay members are John Kelley, L6562, and Don McGrath, F87335. The FMCA president usually calls upon each national vice president to give him suggestions for potential committee members. The theory behind this is to relieve each Executive Committee member from attending each and every committee meeting and perhaps overshadowing those lay members who have volunteered to serve their fellow members at no cost except some reimbursement for expenses. The committee members sit around the big board table while the rest of us, the elected vice presidents, normally sit in the “peanut gallery” if in attendance.
Each committee reports to the full Executive Committee two times per year. Their recommendations are passed or defeated. Depending on the level of authority, the recommendations, if passed, might then go on to the Governing Board or membership for final approval. The Executive Committee thus acts as a clearinghouse for those items that come from the top down (from the membership or the Governing Board) and those that come up (from the committees or staff) and at all times tries to act in the best interests of you, the members. Although national vice presidents such as myself are elected by our respective area (in my case the Great Lakes Area), we are to conduct ourselves, as are the other four voting members of the Executive Committee — the national president, senior vice president, secretary, and treasurer — in the best interests of FMCA. Unfortunately, it seems some of us forget that from time to time.
The Executive Committee meetings are very exhaustive. As I have mentioned in my area newsletter, the meetings that take place twice a year in Cincinnati, and usually also for one day at our summer or winter conventions, are very time-consuming. In the case of the two weeks of committee meetings held in Cincinnati, we usually start out at 7:30 for the 8:30 morning meeting and then, after a lunch break, continue until about 5:00 p.m. Then it is back to the campground or hotel to freshen up for a quick supper. In my case, after supper I head back to the campground for more reading of meeting materials, perhaps a little TV, and early to bed to start all over again at 7:30 the next morning.
As befits my profession (trial lawyer), there is congeniality after hours, but during the actual meetings there is tension and sometimes a “no holds barred” attitude, and it takes some of us three days to a week to “unwind” afterward. We do the job, however, because we love it. You have entrusted us by your vote to act in your best interests.
Now let’s see if I can answer some of the questions I raised earlier. Bear in mind that you have 15 different personalities involved on the Executive Committee. Executive Committee members come from business, the professions, and various other backgrounds that, it is hoped, should allow us to meld. Some are used to board work; some are not. Some want to “micromanage” your association; others look at things more globally and try to implement the Governing Board policies and leave the professional staff, whom you pay, to carry out your policies. That means not worrying if we have one too many rental cars or one too many staff persons at our conventions. The questions should be, “Are the convention income and expenses reasonably in line with the budget submitted by the Convention and Rally Committee and approved by the Executive Committee and, more importantly, did our members have a good time?”
Are there cliques? Of course there are. Do they vote the same way all the time? No. Are there private agendas? I hope not, but sometimes I wonder. Do we always act in the best interests of the members? I hope so, but some days I have my doubts. Do we share information and pull as a team? Not really — but to get any group to pull together as a team must be hard for any president.
Kathy and I have been FMCA members since 1973, and we count it a great privilege to have been elected to this high office twice. If anybody had told me way back then that I would be so honored, I would have laughed at him and said, “Who are you trying to kid?” But now I am here. We Executive Committee members try to do the best we can in our own way to serve your wishes, to bring you better benefits, and to make this a great association. I am pleased to be part of it, and I hope this helps, warts and all, to explain, at least from this national vice president’s perspective, what your Executive Committee is all about.