“The district vice-presidents and council recognized that governance and communication on the district side were not as productive as they might be, so we put together a committee to identify ways that might improve communications and better define the roles of the vice-presidents,” says Robert Schafer, CIM president-elect and executive vice-president of Hunter Dickinson Inc., who first proposed the project. “One of our priorities was to simplify the vice-president position and continue to attract high-calibre, dedicated people to take on this important role.”
The election of two vice-presidents – one per year so that terms are staggered – would also help more clearly define the role of the vice-president and manage the distribution of responsibilities. For each vice-president, priorities would depend on the year in office: the first year’s focus would be liaising with in-district branches and societies to foster co-operation, while the second year in office would be devoted to both organizing the Annual District Meeting and mentoring the incoming vice-president. With these responsibilities, both vice-presidents would have established personal connections at the branch and national levels by the end of their terms in office.
“Having specific leadership responsibility, but also having the ability to share the travel responsibilities will make taking on the role of district vice-president a lot more manageable,” says Schafer, who expressed that finding passionate candidates for the role had been a challenge in the past due to travel requirements.
Each district would also have at least one CIM ambassador – a new support position. The CIM ambassador, a role initially proposed by former CIM president Chris Twigge-Molecey, would be a nationally active volunteer with past CIM knowledge who is interested in supporting district vice-presidents by visiting local branches on their behalf and filling in for them at certain CIM events. “The CIM ambassador role creates a real opportunity for building stronger relationships between the national and branch levels,” notes Schafer.
Another governance component that would be enacted as part of the reconfiguration initiative is an annual congress in which council, district vice-presidents and as many branch chairs as possible will meet to discuss issues, exchange knowledge and provide orientation for incoming district vice-presidents.
According to Schafer, this congress would bring both opportunity and visibility to future CIM leaders and provide a broader population for the selection of future district vice-presidents. “It is the branch leaders who could become district vice-presidents and council members, and, if we have them all together, all can see who the interested and dedicated individuals are,” he points out.
While the reconfiguration would not change how local branches structure and govern themselves, having fewer districts and clearly defined responsibilities for their vice-presidents would offer branches a stronger connection to the national level so that they can benefit from programs CIM offers and have more impact on the strategic direction of the Institute. “District vice-presidents will have pre-Council meeting conference calls to ask branch chairs about issues they face, and post-Council meetings to relay results,” explains Schafer. “This will create a stronger, more connected CIM.”
The reconfiguration is essential for supporting the interests of both individual members and the growth and development of CIM, adds Vavrek. “It is more important than ever to have strong two-way communication between branches at the local level and CIM National,” he says. “The industry is changing faster and faster, and CIM wants to be more connected so that we can all participate in making the decisions that will most benefit our members.”
While the process is well underway, details — such as district boundaries and vice-president job descriptions — are scheduled to be tabled at the CIM Council meeting this coming March.
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