Monday, May 08, 2006

are there seats at the table for younger people?

The City Club of Cleveland has been posting podcasts of their past presentations over the past few weeks, and one was downloaded into my iTunes yesterday which particularly caught my attention. It was by Rebecca Ryan, who is the founder of Next Generation consulting. She did some consulting work for many midwestern cities, including Akron. The entire presentation can be listened to by clicking on this link.

One of her central talking points is the necessity for a community to accept younger people on their civic orgnization's boards of trustees. She cited how Akron recently added four seats on board of their Chamber of Commerce, in the attempt to engage younger people and entrepreneurs in the area. A recent posting on this blog reviewed academic research that theorized one reason for the stuggles of Youngstown is that the leadership of the civic organizations throughout the years have been a fairly homogeneous bunch.

Should the boards of Youngstown-based organizations take this idea to heart?

My question is this: what number of the board of trustees of the following organizations are held by people younger than 50 years old?

- The Butler Institute of American Art
- The United Way of Mahoning Valley
- The Youngstown Symphony Society
- The Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber
- Wick Neighbors Inc.
- The Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County

The reason I chose these institutions is that they will be important drivers for the future of Youngstown. I have no clue who comprises their executive boards and leadership and I am not critizing them, but it may be an interesting exercise for these organizations to analyze their own leadership. maybe the best leaders are those who have been in the Valley for a while and with the most connections and experience. But maybe their future success will depend on the engagement of younger generations and where they receive their ideas for the future.


redhorse said...

Janko, unfortunately, in my experience, the selection of members for boards of civic orgs relies more on their ability to raise personal and business funds than on how they can better an org.

In a highly cynical sense, one could view boards as merely volunteer fundraisers, the people that supply golfers for that outing, or buyers for tables at "formal" dinners.

This is why, I'd wager, if you find the board membership list to the orgs you named, you'd find overlap in members, businesses represented, and profession represented.

LibraryTavern Liz said...

I do not know the composition of these boards, but my guess is that if anybody at all on these boards is under 50, they are male. Young men can be accepted, but young women in the Mahoning Valley are viewed as little girls.

Anonymous said...

i know the oakland just appointed two females in their mid-twenties to their board...and i know planned parenthood recently appointed a mid-twenties woman to theirs...i think things are starting to shift in this area, and i can't speak for everyone, but i feel like the younger people are the ones who are starting to push hard for change...and they're encountering a lot of pushing back from the ones firmly planted in charge. people in this town are threatened not only by change but the passing of power from one generation to the next. oh, and they playhouse board is HUGE. i think there are some young people on it -- and the youth theater has its own board of kids, i'm pretty sure. all i know is, i'm doing my best to infiltrate on all fronts :)