By Mary Baily Wieler
- The Nominating/Board Development Committee should oversee the orientation process working with the Executive Director and senior staff.
- In-depth orientation should be held prior to the first board meeting of the fiscal year before the " new class" begins its term.
- Incoming trustees are the principal audience, but the entire board should be involved. Seasoned trustees bring wisdom (and sometimes the battle scars) of experience. Orientation can be an invigorating, informative refresher course for them.
- A board handbook sent in advance of the orientation session should include the museum's mission statement, by-laws, recent board minutes, policies and planning documents, financial reports, audience demographics and visitors statistics and board and staff lists with biographies.
- A tour of the museum's facilities both public and back-of-house allow new trustees to get a close-up look at the strengths and problems to be solved.
- "The orientation process promotes the vision, communication, and clarification of ongoing goals, programming and planning that contribute to effective governance," observed Maureen P. King, MTA Chairman. The program structure should encourage open dialogue with ample time for questions.
- Mentor programs match incoming trustees with experienced colleagues as a way to build institutional knowledge and share information throughout the first year.
In conclusion, orientation is a sound investment in the museum's future. You worked hard cultivating these new trustees. Converting them to full engagement in board life is the next step in developing these valuable museum assets.