BOARD INTRODUCTION AND EXPECTATIONS

Thank you for your interest in My Friend’s House. A decision to join a board is an important one. You want to be well informed about any organization before you commit to serve on a board.

Before you decide to apply, please allow us to provide an initial introduction to My Friend’s House Board of Directors.

My Friend’s House mission is to be a trusted partner in a supportive community, providing our expertise to create safe a haven for women today and empowering them to reclaim and rebuild their lives tomorrow.

My Friend’s House is a non-profit agency offering support for abused women and children living in the Georgian Triangle. Since opening our doors in 1991, our organization has helped thousands of women get the effective safety and supports they need to rebuild their lives and that of their children.

We serve an average of 600 women and their children each year – 200 through our Shelter Program and the balance through our Therapeutic, Transition and Children’s Programs.

Services are provided without charge and are available to all women and their children across the Georgian Triangle – from Wasaga Beach and Collingwood to Creemore and Meaford and all parts in between.

Board Recruitment

My Friend’s House is seeking a dynamic forward-thinking leader to add value in the areas of: 

  • Health/Social Services/Public Housing 
  • Project/Construction Management 
  • Finance/Investment 
  • Government Relations/Advocacy

You will be part of a dedicated and engaged team.

As a member of our skill-based Board of Directors, you will enjoy a culture of shared responsibility and an opportunity to add to the perspectives of other highly committed and qualified volunteers. Together with the support of our Executive Director, you will oversee our strategic plan, monitor our performance, quality and risk and ensure sustainability of operations.

You will be expected to participate in proactive discussions and contribute to making strategicdecisions that will maintain My Friend’s House as a leader within our local social service system. You will contribute your time in a meaningful and rewarding way together with your colleagues, make a noticeable difference to My Friend’s House and the team we serve.

You will share our values and philosophical framework.

Board of Directors are responsible for making decisions in the best interests of My Friend’s House. Those decisions are informed by a set of values as well as a philosophical framework that ensures the needs of the communities we serve are met.

Values

Fearlessness – We are courageous and do not give fear the power to silence or stop us.

Respect – We acknowledge the dignity, significance, and humanity of each other.

Integrity – We conduct ourselves ethically and with a high level of accountability and transparency.

Excellence – We commit to a high standard of service, with women and children’s safety at the forefront.

Non-judgment – We value, support, and respect the individual choices made by informed and empowered women.

Diversity – We see and celebrate the value in ourselves and others.

Service – We have empathy and compassion for those we serve, coupled with the desire to meet their needs.

Philosophical Framework

My Friend’s House, in keeping with its Vision, Mission and Values is committed to using an intersectional feminist framework to inform and guide all aspects of the agency’s operations and service delivery.

Intersectional Feminist Framework describes overlapping or intersecting social identities such as gender, race, social class, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, age, mental disability, physical disability, mental illness and physical illness as well as other forms of identity as they relate to systems of oppression, domination or discrimination. Intersectionality is the idea that multiple factors contribute to the creation of the whole person and or societal system. Without understanding the synergy (the whole is greater than the sum of its parts) of the identities one cannot understand the person.

For example, a middle eastern, bisexual woman will as a result experience racism, homophobia and sexism in everyday life. A white woman would experience less oppression, and a black woman would experience more. Women who are gay or more outwardly queer, transgender, from a lower income bracket, from a “lower” social class, or have a disability would experience still more. Those experiences on an individual level are all closely related and important.

Under an intersectional feminist framework, it is accepted that violence and abuse is used to control women in patriarchal societies. Patriarchy (the belief in male dominance and innate superiority) is a system for maintaining class, gender, racial, and heterosexual privilege and the status quo of power. These patriarchal beliefs lie at the root of gender-based violence.

Gender-based violence is understood as a continuum that includes, but is not necessarily limited to verbal, emotional, psychological, physical and sexual abuse. The experience of abuse is unique to every woman. Every woman has the right to be in control of her own life as well as the right to determine the services and resources she needs. Our responsibility as an organization is to ensure our service delivery model sees and acknowledges the whole woman and to understand how structures of power and systems may affect her depending on where she is located. It is also our responsibility to understand how individual women may experience the programs and services at My Friend’s House and to work to address any barriers individual women may face.

In keeping with this commitment, My Friends House will ensure all women gain access to the information and resources they need to make informed choices and to have those choices respected. 

Furthermore, in acknowledging My Friend’s House position and influence within the community, it is committed to groups whose rights, freedoms and access to resources and social power is infringed upon. This is done through:

  • encouraging those within the organization and externally to recognize their own biases, and how those biases have helped in creating barriers and oppression. 
  • showing support for or being a part of initiatives lead by oppressed groups both within the organization and in the community.
  • honouring difference and always remembering one’s experience and options is informed by their own identity.
  • continually assessing organizational structures, systems and practices to ensure there is full and equal access for all.
  • being accountable as an organization when actions have contributed to oppression.

Contribution

We are seeking individuals, preferably with previous non-profit Board experience, who are comfortable with oversight governance as distinct from a management role. We are looking for individuals who understand the nature, complexity and needs of a non-profit social service and the needs of our clients. We are seeking individuals with diverse life experiences and an interest in giving back to their communities. As that experienced leader, our Board will benefit from the addition of your particular competence in one or more of the following areas:

Accounting/Finance/Investment

Governance

Diversity Issues

HR Management

Community Engagement

Political Acumen

Quality & Performance Measurement

Public Relations & Communication

Strategic Thinking & Planning

Risk Management

You will become an advocate.

Board members are uniquely poised to spread the news about My Friend’s House, our mission, planned events and case for support. Each member has a strong personal and business network, and you are asked to champion My Friend’s House among your networks.

You will contribute personally to My Friend’s House

Board members are asked to contribute financially to My Friend’s House as a show of commitment and support. The level of donations is determined by the Board member based on their ability.

You will make connections.

When possible, Board members are asked to help open doors for My Friend’s House, make key introductions and forge connections. It is the establishment of personal connections that creates sustainable revenue for the organization.

You will contribute time and skills.

Not all contributions are monetary. Board members with specific skills sets ranging from accounting to marketing and graphic design can provide invaluable assistance and advice in their key areas. Board members that can join committees, work with staff and give broad guidance can allow My Friend’s House to benefit from Board expertise.

You will assist with fundraising.

Board members are asked to assist with fundraising initiatives and big events. This is done by inviting others to contribute and sharing My Friend’s House events and needs on social media and within your own circle. This type of assistance can significantly boost fundraising efforts.

You will help say thank you.

Not every board member feels comfortable talking about development with potential donors. Luckily, the cycle of philanthropy has room for other strengths. Some board members might excel more at maintaining relationships with donors after the initial donation. From time to time you will be called upon to simply say thank you.

You will commit time.

Each member of the Board is asked to make at least a two (2) year commitment, renewable to a maximum of four (4) consecutive terms for a goal of eight (8) years. It is expected that the Board members participate in at least one of the Board committees (Finance, Strategic Planning, Risk Management) and all scheduled Board meetings. Board meetings are held 9 times a year; there are no meetings scheduled in December, July and August. It is expected that no member will be absent for two consecutive Board or two consecutive committee meetings. Remote access for video conferencing is made available on occasions when Board members are unable to attend.

Excellence in Governance

My Friend’s House Board of Directors will actively seek out, attract and meaningfully engage qualified and committed volunteers who can contribute their unique competencies in service to My Friend’s House vision and mission.

Our “Style” of Governance

The Board aspires to achieve and sustain a governance system and Board “style” that is characterized by the following:

Oversight (versus Management)

The Board will be charged with overseeing the compliance and performance of My Friend’s House. It will do so through the establishment of and adherence to sound governance principles, policies and practices. Operational accountability will be delegated to the Executive Director.

Strategic Leadership

The Board will work together and in close relationship with the Executive Director to establish the highest-level strategic direction, priorities, outcomes and resources for the corporation.

Competency (versus Representation)

The Board will be composed of individuals who first demonstrate the requisite skills, experience and expertise necessary to perform the Board’s strategic leadership and oversight responsibilities.

Size

For the Board to be effective in carrying out its responsibilities every Board member is expected to actively engage and contribute to Board discussions and decisions. Good governance practice suggests 9-12 members, plus other ex-officio members, is sufficient to ensure full participation of every Board member, allowing enough directors to populate committees and plan for succession and sustainability.

Sustainability

The Board will ensure strong and sustainable governance through proactive and regular recruitment, qualification and development of Board members and Board candidates. Succession of Board members and of Board Leadership (chairs) will be thoughtful and rigorous to ensure the ongoing strength and strategic leadership of My Friend’s House.

Evolving Context

As organizational and contextual circumstances evolve and change, the Board composition practices will remain flexible enough to adapt to the evolving conditions.

Board Recruitment Screening Process

All board candidates are required to participate in the following screening processes:

  1. Complete the Board Membership Expression of Interest Form and submit it along with a resume to the Chair of Governance via email at selection@myfriendshouse.ca.
  2. A member of the Governance Committee will contact you to set up an individual interview. The interview with our Governance Committee will take 30-45 minutes and will give us a chance to get to know you by asking some standardized questions; this meeting will also give you an opportunity to ask anything you might like to know about the Board or My Friends At the time of the interview, you will be asked to provide three (3) personal or work-related references, including names, nature of your relationship, and contact information.
  3. All candidates must successfully complete a criminal reference check before they are approved to join the Board of Directors. Sometimes, we also verify education/accreditations. More detailed information about this process will be provided at the interview.

After the screening process has been completed, selected candidates are approved to become full members of the Board of Directors either by full motion of the current Board or at our annual general meeting.

New board members will be asked to sign a Confidentiality Agreement and a Conflict-of-Interest Agreement prior to assuming their position as a voting board member. Within the first few weeks of joining the Board your orientation will begin. First and foremost, you will be assigned a mentor. This Board member will ensure your questions are answered.

You will also be given access to My Friend’s House Board file management system which includes information such as governance and operational policies and procedures, audited financial statements, meeting minutes, monthly financial documents, strategic plans and annual reports. There will be an opportunity to meet with the Executive Director to learn more about the programs and if appropriate, a tour of the shelter may be arranged.

The Board currently meets on the fourth Thursday of each month from September to June and holds additional meetings periodically to deal with special issues. Board members are expected to attend all regular meetings of the Board of Directors throughout their two (2) year term of office and to serve on a least one committee. Additionally, Board members are expected to actively support various fundraising and awareness initiatives throughout the year.

My Friend’s House cannot survive without the support of caring and concerned community members such as yourself. Should you have any questions about this document or the screening process, you are welcome to contact the Executive Director, Alison FitzGerald at executivedirector@myfriendshouse.ca.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, thank you for your interest. 

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