[Foundation-l] Board restructuring and community

Delirium delirium at hackish.org
Wed Apr 30 08:43:56 UTC 2008

Alison Wheeler wrote:
> On Tue, April 29, 2008 12:43, Ilario Valdelli wrote:
>> Personally I think that 4 experts is a big number for the board.
>> Experts are consultants not board members!!!
>> Probably 2 experts is a number sufficient to cover particular skills
>> but the board it's the *unique* link between the communities and the
>> management, IMHO this new configuration it's a suicide of the board.
>> Surely the 2 chapters members in the board must replace the experts
>> seats and not the community's seats.
> Taking my Chapter hat off for a moment, most Boards or organisations - be
> they major or minor, profit-seeking or charitable - will choose to have
> 50% (or more) of their board as non-executives (ie external) who bring
> useful skills, expertise and contacts to the table.

This is certainly not true of other non-profit organizations in the 
free-culture movement (which we happen to be a part of).

To take two of the larger examples,

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has 10 members of its Board of 
Directors[1]; all ten have prior experience strongly relevant to the 
foundation's mission (digital civil liberties, free culture, copyright 
reform, etc.). In addition, at least eight have strong prior advocacy 
credentials. There are no technocrats who are there simply because of 
their experience in some managerial or executive aspect of nonprofits, 
and only a minority is even arguably there just for their professional 
(mission-related) expertise without also having a record of agitating 
for EFF-type causes. Of course, they have staff to handle other things, 
but the staff are not on the Board of Directors.

Software in the Public Interest, the parent project of Debian, is *100%* 
elected by the Debian developers. They may choose to elect anyone, of 
course, but generally elect community members. Of the 9 board 
members[2], at least 6 are Debian developers, and at least 7 have a 
strong history of free-software development.


[1] http://www.eff.org/about/board
[2] http://www.spi-inc.org/corporate/board

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