Ask the Experts

Why do we have an appointed board and not an elected board?

The Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA) does not have an appointed board as you suggest. Our by-laws state that, “At least two of the vacancies created by the expiration of the [Board of] Directors’ terms shall be filled by a majority vote of the voting members from the nominees presented by the nominating committee and approved by the Board.”

The Board of Directors of the SAA has developed a process for electing new board members known as the endorsed slate method. Over a period of about six months, the nominating committee undertakes a painstaking process of document review and personal interviews, which results in a diverse slate of highly qualified and enthusiastic nominees. Once the endorsement of the full board is received, the slate is presented to the membership for its approval in an annual election.

While the mission of the SAA is clear, can you explain the structure and function of the SAA? How is it organized? Who is on the board? How is it elected? What is the term of officers? Are they volunteer or paid positions? What are the qualifications to serve? College education? How do you manage finances?

The Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA) is a not-for-profit organization with 501(c)3 status. Membership in the organization is open to all who are interested in the purposes of the organization set forth in the articles of incorporation. The organization is governed by a volunteer board of directors and managed by paid professional staff.

Board members, recruited primarily from the SAA membership, have the responsibility to represent the members or ownership in determining and demanding appropriate organizational performance (including financial performance), govern with an emphasis on integrity, vision, diversity, leadership, and pro-activity, improve board performance through education and enriched input and deliberation, commit itself and its members to ethical, businesslike, and lawful conduct, avoiding any conflict of interest, speak as one voice, produce written governing policies at the broadest levels, produce assurance of CEO performance, and participate in fundraising for the SAA by identifying and cultivating prospective donors and by making individual contributions.

The SAA seeks to ensure that excellent Suzuki Education is widely recognized, sought and provided to the benefit of all the peoples of the Americas. As new opportunities and challenges emerge each year for the organization, its board must be equipped with the knowledge, experience and particular skill-sets that allow the organization to flourish. Exemplary board nominees might be drawn from a network of parents, former Suzuki students, friends or professional contacts from the corporate, academic, or philanthropic communities. Nominees must have a strong belief and dedication to the Suzuki Philosophy and may have specific skills or experience in such areas as higher education, psychology, marketing, business management, fund raising, technology, communications or other areas of knowledge.

General criteria for being a board member include a willingness to give priority to the SAA, steward the mission of the SAA, prepare and participate productively in board meetings, attend three 2 1/2 day meetings per year (October, January, April/May), forego simultaneous membership on the national board of another musical organization, serve on board committees, as assigned, make an annual financial contribution to the SAA and cultivate, solicit funds for the SAA, do volunteer work for the SAA, be an active member of the SAA.

Board officers (Chair, Chair-elect, and Secretary) are elected to two-year terms in odd numbered years by a majority vote of the full Board. The Chair and Chair-elect are limited to one term. The Secretary may serve two consecutive two-year terms.