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Presbyterian Mission Agency Board elects new Executive Committee

Action creates first non-white majority Board leadership team

by Gregg Brekke | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE – The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board (PMAB) met today via conference call to nominate and elect its new Executive Committee in addition to considering an appointment to the Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program (PILP). The board also received updates from the Executive Director search team and the Governance Task Force.

The first order of business was the nomination of a new Executive Committee to begin its service at the board’s summer retreat. The slate included Board Chair Ken Godshall, Board Vice-Chair Marsha Anson, David Shinn, Joe Morrow, Molly Baskin, Tom Fleming, Sinthia Hernandez-Diaz and Conrad Rocha.

“For the first time in history, we will not have a white majority Executive Committee,” Marsha Anson said of nominees Hernandez-Diaz, Morrow, Rocha and Shinn.

“The task was complex,” the Personnel and Nominating Committee wrote in its recommendation. “…to have a smaller executive committee that had a wide range of gifts, experience, background and skills; that recognized the need for continued leadership as well as equipping new leadership; that better represented the diversity of the board itself; that encompassed the diversity of ordination status, ethnicity, gender, age and include all three classes.”

Chad Herring raised a concern that the larger board did not have as much input into the selection of those nominated, deferring to the Personnel and Nominating Committee in its recommendations. Anson countered that nominations from the floor would be entertained prior to the vote. No such nominations were offered by board members, who unanimously approved the proposed slate.

A second action by the board approved the election of Rafael Medina to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Investment and Loan Program Inc. Board of Directors. His name will be forwarded to the 223rd General Assembly (2018) for confirmation as a member for the PILP board class of 2021.

Melinda Sanders, chair of the Governance Task Force, gave a report on the group’s work since the spring board meeting in Puerto Rico where what she called a “partial proposal” was offered to members.

“The task force listened to the opinions that were voiced there and has spent some time in follow-up conversations with board members, staff, [the] Way Forward [Commission], and an advocacy committee,” she said. “Although we were disappointed that we did not have the time to solicit structured feedback from the board in Puerto Rico, we believe that we do need to make changes to the proposed plan that was given to Way Forward and then given to the board.”

Acknowledging fears from some that they would be asked to relinquish their place on the board before their term expired and that a reduced board size would limit its diversity, she provided demographic charts that outlined possible percentage-wise diversity changes in the board as its size is reduced, primarily through attrition of expired terms.

“Fifty-four percent of our board today is white,” she said. “When the class of 2018 rolls off next summer, and if no new members are added, we will then have 25 voting members with 48 percent of those being white. When the next class rotates off [2020-22] we would be down to 13 [members] with a minority makeup of 66 percent.”

Saying that “nobody is suggesting the board be reduced to 13” members, Sanders said classes of members would roll forward and other members added. “But this would be the basis for our recommendation. We are not anticipating asking anyone to resign before their term is up, and we can have a smaller racially and ethnically diverse board.”

Another suggested change to the board function mentioned by Sanders was the addition of a Mission Committee to look at the work of the PMA, and possibly the entire PC(USA), in terms of themes such as human trafficking and anti-racism.

In a reversal of course from the earlier Governance Task Force proposal, Sanders said the liaison committee concept was being dropped in favor of continuing to invite members of advisory and advocacy committees to participate in the PMAB as corresponding members.

Hoping to put forth a “coordinated effort” with actions and decisions of the Way Forward Commission, Sanders said the Commission and the Governance Task Force had been in communication to formulate a plan to incorporate board input in working with the Way Forward Commission as well as the work of the All Agency Review Committee.

Nancy Ramsay, chair of the Executive Director Search Committee, said the group was “well at work” in their efforts to define the criteria by which the next leader of the PMA will be selected. This work includes collating over 330 responses to a churchwide survey asking for characteristics needed for leadership of the Mission Agency. Ramsay said the position profile is expected to be completed and approved in late June after which the commitee, in cooperation with a search firm, will begin its search in earnest.

The Finance Committee of the PMAB will meet Friday, May 12, at 3 p.m. EDT to discuss first-quarter financials and audit information.

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