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Rachel Vacek's picture

Chair / Vice-Chair Discussion

Hi LITA Board,

I want to bring to everyone's attention that there have been some concerns raised around the implementation of appointing Vice-Chairs to committees. If you remember, we discussed this topic at one of our Midwinter Board meetings, and we all verbally agreed to proceed with this model.  But because of these concerns, I have consulted with Cindi as President, Thomas as incoming Vice-President, Mary Taylor, and Jason Griffey as Chair of Bylaws, and a couple LITA Board members.  I will most likely be talking with Zoe, Past-President, this afternoon.  

The concern is around the interpretation of a statement in the Bylaws about the Vice-President making appointments (Chairs and membership) to LITA Committees, and if the Vice-President makes Vice-Chair appointments, he/she is no longer making Chair appointments.  Both Cindi and Thomas are in agreement with me in that it doesn’t matter to us if we are appointing future Chairs instead of Chairs when we are President.  What’s important to us is that we have the best person in the position and who wants to help advance LITA and its initiatives.   

There was also concern that this model was practiced in the past, and I talked with Cody about his appointment to the Education Committee as a Co-Chair.  This happened many years ago, and having Co-Chairs was challenging because no single individual was responsible, and if people didn’t work well together, there was a lot of potential for things to fall apart.  

I am not proposing that we implement the Co-Chairs model that was previously attempted, but rather a Chair/Vice-Chair model.  I think it will be crucial for me to work with the incoming LITA Committee Chair Coordinator (Lauren Pressley) and Thomas Dowling to establish some guidelines and expectations for this new model.  As Cody pointed out to me, it will be essential for Vice-Chairs to be familiar with what is expected of them and not just emulate what their Chair did.  I realize that also that it could be easy to slip into a pattern of “no action” or have a weak leader, but this is the case in any situation.  And this is why it is SOOO important that we, as Board Liaisons to all these committees, communicate regularly with them, help them with establishing their own strategic directions based on the directions the Board has set, and be as supportive as possible.  

Anyway, I have asked Jason to talk with the Bylaws Committee about this issue, as I don't want to go against the Bylaws, and I hope to hear from him later this week or early next week.  If it is decided that I am able to proceed with making Vice-Chair appointments, I’ll then work with Mary to get this set up within the ALA appointment system and finish wrapping up the appointment process.  

Feel free to share your thoughts here in ALA Connect.


Cindi Blyberg's picture

As Rachel indicates, I support this process.  We knew (and discussed) that this would be a messy process for the first couple of years.  It's more important to me to have the right people in leadership positions rather than my favorite people (though hey, lots of my favorite people have been elected to the board lately!). 

Ineffective chairs (or Vice-Chairs or Members or *whomever*) can be addressed as needed.

Thanks for the clarification re: co-chairs, Rachel.

I welcome everyone's thoughts, as I'm sure Rachel does.

Cindi Blyberg's picture

Please jump in and let your officers know your opinion of this change.

David King's picture

I think what we're doing now is fine. Like you said, it will be messy at first.

Are lots of LITA members complaining/questioning? To me, it seems like we're splitting hairs on a side issue. Let's appoint the right people and move on to the more important stuff.

Andromeda Yelton's picture

I've told Rachel privately that I think this is a great idea, but just to reiterate that publicly: great idea. Happy to follow where you're leading, mon capitan.

LITA Board of Directors, 2013-2019; President-Elect, 2017-2018

Elizabeth Stewart-Marshall's picture

It's definitely worth trying it out, kicking the tires and see where or if it needs to be tweaked.  It doesn't have to be perfect out of the box.  And there's definitely support for the mentoring effect that we've been saying needs to be present - leadership development through doing.

It might be more work for the incoming VP since appointments will need to be made for ALL committees.  However if part of what the sitting Chair is responsible for is to identify strong candidates for being vice-chair and communicates that to the incoming VP, then it should work out.


Zoe Stewart-Marshall

LITA Past President (2013-2014)

Aaron Dobbs's picture

With Rachel's appointment of vice-chairs...

Who will be the chairs the vice-chairs will replace and where will those chairs come from?

Or is Rachel appointing chairs and than also appointing vice chairs who will become chairs in Thomas's year and who will then be replaced the following year by the vice chairs that Thomas appoints?

Or are Cindi's chairs being asked to continue an extra year?

Enquiring Minds Want to Know!


"Always remember everyone is working to make the organization better in their own way."
-Eli Mina, ALA Parliamentarian

Rachel Vacek's picture

In some cases, I am appointing a Chair for 1 year, and in other cases, the Chair that Cindi appointed still has one more year to go.  Similarly, in some cases I am pulling chair-recommended and interested people who have already served on the committee for 1 or 2 years to be Vice-Chair, and in some cases, I'm appointing people who haven't been on the committee before but have demonstrated leadership skills or have great potential to lead to be Vice-Chair.

Clear as mud, right?

Thomas also told me, "FYI I have zero concern about you appointing the people who will be chairs the year I'm president."  He's very aware that it might be messy for a year or two, especially as we establish new groups (FAC and eventually/hopefully Communications - I swear I'm getting there!). 

Hope that helps, Aaron!


Rachel Vacek