Guide: President

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2009 Edition

Note Bene: Per Council decision, 22 October 2008, this Guide is meant to be a “living document” and must be maintained in a Word format to facilitate revision. Please feel free to revise as needed, adding your initials in parentheses after revision, thus enabling follow-up questions if necessary. At the end of your term, please forward a copy of this Guide to the ADE secretary for archiving. The ADE secretary will distribute the appropriate Guide to the incoming elected Council members, as well as forwarding copies of all Guides to the ADE president. 

The Past-President turns to you with a beatific smile, and says “You’re in charge now!”

The main thing that you need to know to be an effective President of the ADE is that your job is to manage everyone else. The better organized you are, the better you’ll be able to keep on top of things.

First Things First

1) Committees If you haven’t already started thinking about Committees, don’t leave the annual meeting without starting! Get a list of the active committees, any new committees being formed, and start filling in names. Sometimes you can find a chair and ask them to fill out the Committee, but it is probably best to draw on as wide a range of members as you can. Try to attract both History and Literary projects, and experienced and new editors.

2) Thank yous Send an e-mail to those that appeared on the annual program and thank them for their participation. It’s just good manners!

Appointment of Committees

The president appoints most committees, except for the nominating committee, which the president proposes a slate to the Council to approve. Some thoughts on committees

  • The Nominating Committee that you are appointing will be the one that selects the president-elect after the president-elect that succeeds you. Thus, for example, in 2009 a nominating committee is selected who will do their work in 2010 to select the president-elect who will serve in 2010-11 and be president in 2011-12. In selecting a nominating committee, the key attribute is to get people who know a lot of people and know them well. It probably is good to have one carryover from the previous nominating committee as well as four new members. You are looking for a diverse group who will know various people. You also want to provide them with some suggestions of people who you think will help to implement the strategic plan. Select the nominating committee well in advance of the ballot: probably May or June
  • It’s preferable to have other committees selected in advance of taking office. These include standing committees such as the meetings committee and the various awards committees and the publications committee.
  • In selecting Awards committees, we often ask last year’s winner to serve as chair. For the Boyd award there has been some consideration that the members of the committee should not be people who might be potential winners. This has been avoided in recent years by selecting only past winners. You can rotate the most recent winner on and the most distant winner off.
  • Most committees should be given a specific charge with a deadline and deliverables. Once the committee completes its work it should be discharged and a new committee created. In my opinion, this means that the president should appoint committees immediately after taking office after the Council has revised the action plan. If new tasks are needed, the President can inform the committees as needed.
  • Committee chairs should be asked to report on their progress at the end of the year. Let them know that you will expect a written report of their work by a specific date (at least three weeks before the Council meeting). I think that it is a good idea to also ask for a report of progress at about the six-month mark. This will remind chairs that are remiss that they need to get on things, and will clue you in on which committees might need a little more supervision/prodding.
  • Some Committee chairs meet with Council in person. You should begin to identify those individuals about six weeks before the annual meeting, so that they can make travel arrangements. You don’t generally need to meet everyone in person, but if you think that there is a give and take needed, especially before an important Council vote, then it is a good step.
  • Planning Committee. In 2008 the planning committee included the 9 members of Council and 6 other ADE members. This ensures that any plan that is adopted has the approval of the Council. It also ensures that there is diversity among the remaining members. The key qualification is the ability to think strategically and to cooperate well with others.

Planning and Organization 

Your main job is to make sure that everyone else does their job. Therefore, do not, I repeat not, make yourself the chair of any committee (except strategic planning if you really want to), and do not take the lead role in any task. You will be busy enough putting out fires, herding cats, and dealing with the many questions that come up. You think you will have time, and most of the time you will. Then the annual meeting or some other deadline will come up, and you will spend way too much time doing ADE business (just check some of the times that those e-mails were sent last year!). You are a manager—so try to manage rather than take on more tasks.

1) Google Calendar I created a Google calendar that I shared with the Council, Secretary, and Treasurer. Then I went through this guide and the action plan and entered reminders for everything that I needed to do. They might have been specific things, like “Send out notice that Committee reports are due” or they might have been more general things “Spend an hour trying to secure liaisons” or “Consult with the secretary about new members.” Whatever it is, set the calendar entry to remind you via e-mail or pop-up, and you will get reminders. I overdid it a bit, and by the end started deleting them, muttering that I had no time to do that. So go easy on them. Put in what you need. The others who are subscribed to the Calendar can also add items and if everyone uses it, you’ll see easily what needs to be done that week or that month.

2) Checking in It is a good idea to check in every so often with the Secretary and Treasurer to make sure that all’s going well. I would ask for membership numbers at the end of January and March, just to see how things are going; I would certainly make sure that the Publications Committee and the Treasurer are on the same page about the budget amount for Documentary Editing before any commitments are made.

3) Documents Forward any key documents to the secretary for the ADE’s files, including letters, contracts, decisions, and agreements. All other correspondence and reports should be collected and sent to the ADE Archives when your term ends.

4) Minor Decisions Make decisions without consulting with Council in minor issues. These include things such as

  • setting dates for return of ballots for constitutional amendments (made in consultation with the secretary)
  • issues involving minor changes on website in consultation with webmaster
  • participation in decisions with president-elect; treasurer; secretary; local arrangements chair
  • If you aren’t sure, just ask the Council—it is easier!

5) Contracts You will likely be asked to sign the contract for the ADE meeting to be held in 2011. Because you were just the conference chair, this won’t be too big of a stretch. You need to look carefully at the number of rooms and meals figures that ADE guarantees to the hotel as part of the contract—make sure that we think we can meet those numbers. You can get figures from the treasurer and secretary about past deals, attendance in different parts of the country, and if you aren’t sure, consult with the Council. Do go over the rooms set aside for the meeting, make sure that you have space for the Council meetings before the annual meeting, the Council meeting on the last morning, space for the NEH and NHPRC reps to hold consultations with members, and the breakfast.

6) Grants You may also have to sign off on grant proposals, if ADE seeks funding. Work with the treasurer to make sure that any grants ADE applies for will have some administrative overhead so that we can put together a bit of a paid staff.

7) Notes to self I found it very useful to excerpt e-mails on issues, and my own notes, and posted them on a wiki so that whether I was home or at work I could keep track of what was going on. Some of these issues get complicated and it is hard to remember what was said.

Managing the Council

The Council is there to offer suggestions and counsel, and they are the ones that make the decisions in areas that affect policy or financial commitment on the part of the ADE. Votes can be taken via e-mail or phone.

    1) In decisions requiring Council approval, lay out information via e-mail and call for vote by e-mail after discussion. Provide a date by which you need an answer. Keep a log of the votes that you call and who voted which way (in case the secretary is not sure).

    2) I would suggest asking each Council member to take particular responsibility for a committee or a task force. When Strategic Planning is underway, put each Council member in a task force group and ask them to report progress to the Council. You can also assign a Council member to serve ex officio on committees that need a little oversight or have important deliverables.

Consultation with president-elect/past-president

The idea of seeing president-elect, president, and past-president as a team that makes collaborative decisions has worked very well in recent years. As soon as the president-elect is nominated (as elections are not contested), the president should begin reaching out, copying the incoming president-elect with all policy and important issue e-mails and reports, and working with them on strategy and other planning. The past-president serves to provide advice and experience, and a sounding board for ideas. All three should frequently consult because this kind of collaborative decision making ensure for better transitions and the likelihood that goals that require long-term efforts will be carried out.

Other important individuals

1) Every three years the ADE must appoint a representative to the NHRPC. Ray Smock is the current NHPRC representative, elected in 2008. In 2011 his term expires and the Council will again need to make an appointment. If you need to make an appointment, send word to the membership and ask for nominations. The best candidate will not be someone actively working on an NHPRC-sponsored project, because he or she would have to recuse themselves from any deliberations on those grants. The ADE rep will have to recuse themselves if the ADE puts in a grant. We often want someone who has good relations with people on Capitol Hill, but proximity to Washington is not important and the NHPRC pays for travel to meetings.

2) Check to see which nominations will be needed at the start of your term, and remind the nominations committee of which slots they want to fill. Some offices have term limits, so it is a good thing to get a sense of who might be coming up.

  • Secretary (one year terms, renewable 3 times) Jennifer Stertzer 2009, 2010, 2011.
  • Treasurer (one year terms, renewable as many as want) John Fierst, 2009
  • Director of Publications (one year term, renewable3 times), Sharon Stevens, 2009, 2010, 2011.
  • Councillor at large (three year term)
    1. Helen Deese 2008-2009-2010
      Phil Chase 2009-2010-2011
      Denton Watson 2010-2011-2012

Communication with members

The president should use opportunities to communicate with members. Major opportunities include;

    a. write a column as president-elect and as president for Documentary Editing (PUBLISHES IN DECEMBER) 

    b. write a regular piece for the ADE electronic newsletter (QUARTERLY)

    c. consider including a cover letter in any hard copy mailing done by the ADE.

    d. Draft the dues letter that goes out in January—what ADE’s plans for 2010 are, how the members can help, encouraging memberships at higher levels, etc.

    e. Push for openness with members in all your communications; try to get new and ongoing members to participate, to share their ideas, etc. We are trying to build a more open organization and it starts at the top!

Strategic planning

The annual plan is key to successful continuity in the ADE. It should be reviewed twice a year: at a minimum at the annual Council meeting and if possible at mid-year.

    1) Action plan as an agenda. The plan itself has long term objectives and specific actions. The agenda for the Council meeting should be built around the action plan. Council needs to review the status of action on each action item and set new action items for the coming 6 to 12 months. The president is responsible for updating the action plan document (which exists in tabular form) after the meeting and to distribute it to the Council and post an updated version on the ADE website.

    2) Narrative plan. This plan sets out in narrative form the fuller context. This should only have to be minimally revisited. The mission, vision, and values section probably should be revisited once every five years: 2013, 2018, 2023, etc. The objectives should be reviewed annually, probably at the planning retreat or at the Council meeting to ensure that they are on target with the mission and vision. The president is responsible for updating this document and distributing it to members and posting it on the website.

    3) Planning retreat. If there is a budget for a planning retreat, it can take many formats. To be successful they require good advance work. These include:

    • Inexpensive location both in terms of travel and lodging
    • Local sponsor who might be willing to underwrite costs.
    • Minimize actions required by members regarding finding lodging and meals; have as much of this ready as possible.
    • Develop a clear agenda with timetable determining what needs to be accomplished. Stick to it.
    • Get a good facilitator. It is hard to facilitate and participate at the same time. Hiring outside facilitators is expensive and not always effective. Identify the person who should be the facilitator based on skills and not title. The facilitator might be the president or it might be some other person.
    • Clarify the role of the facilitator.

    After the retreat the president needs to write up the results; share with the president-elect; and come to an agreement. The results should then be recirculated to the planning committee to make sure that they accurately reflect the agreement. Finally, the Council should take a vote on them and then they can be posted on the web.

Annual meeting

You thought that you had a lot to do when you were Program Chair, didn’t you? The President needs to be preparing for the annual meeting about 6 weeks before it starts, in order for all the organizational details to go well.

    1. Ensure that local arrangements and program committees are communicating and on schedule

      a. Sign contracts for meetings as needed

      b. Set fees in consultation with president-elect; secretary; treasurer; and local arrangements chair

      c. Set up a sign-up sheet for volunteers at the registration desk.

    2. Set time for Council meeting; usually late afternoon for about 3 hours on the day before the annual meeting and another session on the morning of the annual meeting. You will set the time for your predecessor’s first Council meeting on the last day of the conference as well. Time should be set three months in advance to permit people sufficient time to arrange for airfares.

      a. Create and distribute agenda 4 weeks in advance. Agenda should follow outline in ADE action plan

      b. Check with individuals who may need to report regarding their time on the agenda

    3. Business meeting (usually held on evening of first day, before reception)

      a) Create agenda four weeks in advance of meeting. Double check the pronunciation of any names you are not sure of. Note that in any given year you might want to move up certain reports that are more important. This is just a suggestions using last year’s agenda.

      1. Welcome
      2. Approval of minutes for last year’s business meeting
      3. Thanks to Program Chair, have him/her make any announcements about hosts, other events, etc.
      4. Mention the Program Chair for 2011 and suggest interested people get in touch.
      5. President’s Report—short (hopefully) overview of Council decisions, long-range plan progress. Big picture stuff.
      6. General call for volunteers, donations, etc.
      7. Secretary’s report
      8. Treasurer’s report
      9. Approval of the 2011 budget
      10. Webmaster’s report
      11. Liaison report
      12. Publications Committee report
      13. DE editor report?
      14. E-News report
      15. Meetings Committee
      16. Federal Policy/Advocacy
      17. Remind about reception location, buses if needed.
      18. Motion to adjourn.

      b) Inform all individuals who need to report

      c) Conduct meeting

    4. Banquet

    The President-elect presides over the banquet as mc.

      a. Provide president elect with material to make introduction

      b. Secure participation of Committee Chairs or others to present awards

      c. Prepare and deliver presidential address. Shoot for about 20 minutes.

      d. Provide editor of DE with an electronic copy of presidential address for publication.

      e. Smile broadly at the ex-President-Elect, and say “You’re in charge now!”