Board of Advisors
By: Dave Baron
Here’s an idea. Let’s gather a group of people who don’t work full-time for an organization, who aren’t there day in, day out, striving to execute its initiatives, who can’t possibly understand all the nuances of what it faces on a daily basis, who are, in many ways, outsiders. And let’s make that group of outsiders responsible for setting the organization’s goals and advising those who work full-time for the organization on how to achieve those goals.
Pretty counterintuitive, right?
Yet this inside-out—or rather, outside-in—concept is exactly how we set up many important institutions. Corporations, non-profits, universities, hospitals, and legislative governments—these all operate using a board model. They may possess varying degrees of authority, but boards of directors, trustees, overseers, and aldermen rely on a common principle that listening to external voices and distinct perspectives helps the organization to thrive.
Almost five years ago, Father Hurley and several OSP members decided to revamp our church’s board, to create a new format to deliberate the beautifully rich and complicated role of a Catholic Church in 21st-century Chicago. It was not to be a governing board with powers to dictate or direct, but to offer insights and recommendations from views perhaps not considered before. And it would be composed of OSP staff and non-staff, insiders and outsiders. The group chose an appropriate name: a Board of Advisors.
Father Hurley asked me to join three years ago, and for the past year, I have served as Board chair. Although I’ve served on other boards, this one in particular has shown me the importance of a key Catholic virtue—humility. We worship a Messiah who modeled this characteristic by cleaning the feet of His followers, riding a donkey into Jerusalem, and permitting Himself to die on a cross. Indeed, I’ve come to see that Christlike humility is the only way the board model can work.
We are blessed at Old St. Pat’s with a remarkable pastor and a staff of talented, creative, faithful people. It takes humility to recognize that our Board role is not to tell them how to do their jobs, but to pose questions, answer questions, and offer suggestions based on our experiences in business, law, social activism, and organizational leadership. I believe this has served us well while advising on issues like improving our major fundraisers, building our rapport with the Archdiocese, and expanding OSP’s presence both in the West Loop and on social media.
Recently, the Board released a new 5-year Strategic Plan for OSP, Moving Together in Spirit, which sets priorities in areas of campus improvements, leadership planning, mission and ministries, and resource development. As you may know, the recommendations were based on focus groups, interviews, and survey responses from you, the OSP membership, and we are excited about result. Here’s the rub though: We need your help again to implement the plan. Your commitment, your participation, and your humility.
To that end, we would like to invite you to discuss the Strategic Plan with us on either Sunday, November 20, 6:00 p.m. or Sunday, December 11, 10:30 a.m. At these info sessions, Board members will run through the Plan before moderating an open discussion on how we can implement it. There are so many opportunities for you to get involved, perhaps by joining one of our Board committees that will be focusing on Plan recommendations. If you can’t make it or if you have questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.