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An Early Thanksgiving Gift

November 18, 2014
Last week, I spent an afternoon with the Sons of Norway Board of Directors as part of a two-day orientation session for the organization's incoming board members. My segment of the program covered two of the four modules in the Alliance's Board Boot Camp – "The Role and Responsibilities of Fraternal Board Members" and "Hands On, Fingers Off." Other components of the orientation session included presentations on legal, actuarial, and operational issues, as well as remarks from Harald Borrmann, President and CEO of Catholic United Financial and Chair of the Alliance's Board of Directors. Sons of Norway web(O) The session was intended to provide incoming Sons of Norway board members with a firm foundation for their new roles and responsibilities, as well as a solid grounding in the principles of good corporate governance and a history of the fraternal system. For those continuing on the board, it provided a good refresher course on these key issues, and established a baseline for the newly constituted board to move forward with its duties. I'm sure at times it seemed to both the new and current board members that they were drinking from a fire hose -- there was quite a bit of information given to them in a very short period of time -- but based on the enthusiasm with which they approached the training session and the very positive comments they made about the program, it appeared to be well worth the effort for them as individuals and as a board. As I led the board members through the modules, I was impressed by their desire to stop and discuss how the points and principles about governance "best practices" could be applied to their society. They were duly proud of those areas in which Sons of Norway has improved its governance structure in recent years, but were not interested in sitting around and patting each other on the back over their victories; they were much more interested in talking about how they, as a board, could continue to enhance the society's governance and contribute to further financial and fraternal successes. boot camp As I told the board at the end of our session, I was quite sure that I got as much, or more, out of the discussion as they did. It was incredibly rewarding to share time with a group of dedicated, qualified, and talented individuals who are tackling tough issues in a meaningful way. It was even more gratifying to know that the Board Boot Camp program that the Alliance has worked so hard to develop and improve over the last few years is genuinely valuable and appreciated by the members. These resources are available to all Alliance member societies.  Check out the Boot Camp offerings or send me an email if you're interested in some board education, jannotti@fraternalalliance.org.