The Sons of Ben will soon hold their first-ever open election for two positions on the groups governing board, which will bring the number of board members to 12. As Sons of Ben president Kenny Hanson told PSP in February, “Things are evolving and we’re trying to move into a different model.”
On Monday, PSP spoke to Hanson about the lead-up to the the November elections, and some of the organizational needs what the group’s board hopes to meet with the election.
“Our goal is to try to get people that have the ability to give their time and knowledge to be able to move [the Sons of Ben] forward,” Hanson said. “We hope the people that do get elected have the ability to enact change and help the organization be a better organization.”
Candidate for election to the board have been invited to submit bios — the deadline is Tuesday at midnight — and those bios are available for viewing on the Sons of Ben website (some recently submitted bios are not yet up on the site). In October, candidates will have the opportunity to present themselves to the group’s membership in an open meeting where they will answer questions from a moderator as well as from the membership. Hanson said the date of the meeting will be determined after he has consulted with the candidates to determine their availability, something which in itself is probably a good indicator of whether a candidate has the time necessary to commit toward being an effective board member .
“It’s something that absolutely has to happen,” Hanson said of the candidates’ open meeting with the membership. “If I put three dates out there and someone says, ‘I can’t make any of them,’ I may say the board might not be a good spot for you. The board is definitely time consuming and the one thing we need is help. As our membership grows, as we get more involved with local charities and parts of the community, we need more people to help out.
“Obviously, different individuals are going to have different time responsibilities,” Hanson explained. “The expectation is not that someone’s going to spend as much time as I do on a weekly basis, but that’s also not to say the person is going to come in and they get to vote on stuff and that’s what the board means.”
The invitation for candidates to submit bios emphasized, “One key element of the bio that will be focused on will be service.” And, as Hanson explained, what a candidate would be doing if elected “depends on their expertise.” But he also made clear that the board could use some expert help with two fundamental areas that are essential to the success of any organization.
As Hanson put it, “In a perfect world, we would have someone in PR and communications, and we would have a treasurer.”
The need for a treasurer is particularly strong because, at present, Hanson and SoB vice president Lorenzo Rivera are handling things like finances and taxes, which means they aren’t spending time on other areas that require their attention.
“An accountant, a CPA, a tax expert — anybody like that would be ideal,” Hanson said. “Right now, we don’t have anybody who has that background that has put their name forward. If we have someone like that, I would certainly encourage our members to vote for someone who had that background. All of our roles are replaceable. Finding someone who can manage your finances is very hard to replace.”
The key to a truly democratic election involves both competition between several candidates as well as engaged participation from the electorate.
“We want our membership to be able to have a say in who’s leading the organization, and who has the ability to vote for things in the organization,” Hanson said. “But at the same time, those individuals need to be able to have that time commitment and have that knowledge of the process.”
The emphasis on the time commitment necessary to be an effective board member makes sense; from the pregame tailgate, to tifo, organizing travel to away games, not to mention the organization’s many charitable efforts, all involve a tremendous amount of work both in planning and execution. Such time demands can take a toll on people with already busy professional and personal lives.
“The truth of the matter is that there are only two people on the current board of ten that have been on the board for more than two years,” Hanson explained. “So, 80 percent of the board has been there two years or less. You hear from people that it needs to change or it needs to change over. Well, it’s changed over.”
The election of two new board members, both the process of the election itself and the members’ place on the board after the election, will only bolster the continuing evolution of the Sons of Ben.