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Nominating Committee Considering Co-Officers


Guest llrva1

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My volunteer organization is electing a Nominating Committee this month. There is concern among the current Board that there may not be individuals who are interested in holding an office 'alone' during the next term. I have been asked if we can fill positions as co-officer positions.

Our current Bylaws do not explicitly allow for co-officers (e.g. Co-Presidents, Co-Vice Presidents). In order to enable co-officers, do we need to first amend the bylaws to allow for co-officers?

I can see the situation either way - the duties of the office need to be fulfilled. If the Bylaws don't explicitly state an individual, are we OK to have 2 people fill the office? I also see the benefit of making things clear for the membership and stating the position(s) may be filled by an individual or two individuals.

Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!

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In order to enable co-officers, do we need to first amend the bylaws to allow for co-officers?

Yes.

I can see the situation either way - the duties of the office need to be fulfilled. If the Bylaws don't explicitly state an individual, are we OK to have 2 people fill the office? I also see the benefit of making things clear for the membership and stating the position(s) may be filled by an individual or two individuals.

No. And as others have stated, don't do it. Except for possibily splitting the Secretary's duties - into the positions of Recording Secretary and Correspondence Secretary - it is simply not practical to have two people doing the same job. Consider this: if you elect two Presidents, who chairs a meeting? With only one President, the answer is simple - the President. With two Presidents, there will always be issues such as who chairs the meeting. Both Presidents would have the right to chair the meeting.

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My volunteer organization is electing a Nominating Committee this month. There is concern among the current Board that there may not be individuals who are interested in holding an office 'alone' during the next term. I have been asked if we can fill positions as co-officer positions.

Our current Bylaws do not explicitly allow for co-officers (e.g. Co-Presidents, Co-Vice Presidents). In order to enable co-officers, do we need to first amend the bylaws to allow for co-officers?

I can see the situation either way - the duties of the office need to be fulfilled. If the Bylaws don't explicitly state an individual, are we OK to have 2 people fill the office? I also see the benefit of making things clear for the membership and stating the position(s) may be filled by an individual or two individuals.

Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!

I certainly agree with everyone else that you can't do this without amending the bylaws to explicitly allow it.

I also agree that, in principle, it's not a good idea. In practice, however, I have seen this work fairly well (co-presidents, co-vice presidents) in one organization I belong to. From what I've seen, the practice arises because many (most?) organizations exist because they want to do things other than hold meetings, and the non-parliamentary duties of the officers may be very extensive. Those non-parliamentary duties then get shared between the co-office holders, and, if both presidents (for example) attend a meeting, only one presides, while the other simply participates like a regular member of the assembly (common sense prevails). However (and this is a big however), as Rev Ed notes, both technically have the right to preside, which would be chaotic. It would be much better to clarify all this in the bylaws, and the simplest way to clarify, in the end, is just to stick to the standard rule of one person per office.

Duties could be shared in other ways -- perhaps creating an additional position to handle certain tasks, or forming a committee (maybe a standing committee if the duties are ongoing) to handle them.

If you do decide to pursue the path of amending the bylaws to allow co-officers, think through the ramifications very carefully. You may also run into issues of 'balance of power', for want of a better term. If you allow co-office holders, the simplest thing to do is to stay with one-vote-per-person (the default rule). Then, unless co-office holding is now required, rather than optional, you'd have a different balance of votes after each election, depending on which offices have two occupants, and which have only one occupant. Maybe you have two membership chairs, and two entertainment coordinators (just making up possible board position here), but only one person serving as president, and maybe another person elected to fill both the secretary and treasurer positions one year. Is that OK? What if you have co-office holders in all positions one year -- with twice as many people attending board meetings, will the nature of the meetings change (a small group can do business in ways that a large group really can't, in terms of levels of formality)? What if you elect married couples to co-positions -- when one doesn't show up at a meeting, the other one usually doesn't either -- will absentees at meetings affect your ability to reach quorum, in ways that the absence of individual members might not? It may also seem tempting to think you can avoid some of these problems by having the co-office holders 'share' one vote or count only once toward quorum -- but that opens up another large can of worms.

Think very very carefully if you are considering this step.

And then, don't take it (to preempt Egar, or others who will jump on the obvious punch line). I won't go quite that far, having seen the co- approach work fairly well in at least one organization (the organization had co-office holders by long custom, although the practice was not spelled out in the bylaws, and hence was not actually proper).

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After that, I'm convinced "Don't do it" was the correct advice!

Yes.

I think the OP should be grateful the organization does not currently have co-officers.

In the organization I mentioned (where the practice was endemic, to use a quasi-medical term) we did have some of the problems I mentioned (quorum problems from officers being absent in pairs, and unpredictably fluctuating numbers of board members from year to year). The potential difficulty of having two people try to preside at a meeting (which posters on this forum always seem to worry about) never materialized. The bylaws of the organization were in disarray (for other reasons) and a bylaws committee was set up several years ago to draft a revision. The committee spent hours and hours chewing over the co-officer situation, and came up with no good solution allowing co-officers -- and, out of respect for custom in the organization, the committee tried hard. I'm not saying the problems are insoluble, but they are certainly very hard to solve. The bylaws committee recommended a revision explicitly stating that each office could only be held by one person (this is what RONR already says, of course, but this organization now has the explicit statement in its bylaws as well). The revision barely passed at the AGM -- the close vote was entirely due to the perceived elimination of co-officership (which was never allowed in the original bylaws anyway, but that's not how the membership saw it). The issue of co-officers remains a controversial one in the organization to this day, with frequent agitation to allow the practice again. For exactly the reason stated in the original post:

There is concern among the current Board that there may not be individuals who are interested in holding an office 'alone' during the next term.

So, Guest_llrva1 -- I'm not sure if any of this is helpful to you, but this is one 'been there done that' comment on the co-officer idea.

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All -

Thank you for your input and advice. I have serious reservations about Co-Presidents and your comments have provided further validation of those concerns. I'll share this with our Board and see where we end up. I think some of it comes down to people being intimidated by the title & I think that is something the Nominating Committee, if well-prepared, can work through. Thanks again!

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