Since I joined Girl Scouts of Western Washington in 2012, I’ve heard consistently across our council that many (but not all) delegates feel that the position of delegate is more of a hassle than a help. Comments are mostly in the vein of “I don’t feel like I make a substantive contribution as a delegate,” and, “All I do is show up at the Annual Meeting and wave a card.” And I’ve heard from many (but not all) Service Unit Managers that they have to pull teeth to get anyone to be a delegate.
With that pattern of frustration in mind, Board Chair Catherine Gelband and I floated a question around membership beginning last spring: Should our council put a governance structure like the Council Connection Committee (C3) into the by-laws instead of continuing with the existing delegate model? C3 has been operating for more than a year now as a feedback-loop between membership and council leadership. The group has been very productive in helping brainstorm a wide variety of issues from the banking transition to how to strengthen the Cookie Program and what the strategic priorities should be for the council.
There are currently 37 members on C3, including four teen members. Members are chosen through an application process and serve two-year terms. The current C3 membership represents 12 of our 17 counties as well as a variety of volunteer perspectives. (Applications are still open for girls from anywhere in the council, and for adults from counties with no, or only one, representative on the group. Those counties are: Island, Mason, Pacific, San Juan and Wahkiakum.)
We started talking about this idea at the 2013 Spring Service Unit Roundtables as well as with C3 itself. We talked in more detail about it at the 2013 Fall Service Unit Roundtables and during all of the recent lead delegate webinars. The final piece of formal “input gathering” was a straw poll that was sent to the 2012/13 delegates and 2013/14 lead delegates. It garnered a 31 percent response rate (98 out of 317 recipients), which is pretty good statistically speaking. In total, 72 percent were in favor of changing from the current delegate model to the proposed Council Connection Committee (C3) system. In all, we’ve heard a lot of feedback, some for it and some against.
Ultimately, we’ve decided that we will not be moving forward with the idea of replacing the delegate structure. I’m deeply concerned that more than a quarter of the straw poll respondents were opposed and believe that this actually indicates a stronger vein of disagreement with the idea than is evidenced by these results alone. And I’m absolutely committed to taking steps that help pull the council together, rather than divide it. So for those reasons, we’re sticking with our current delegate model as the governance structure and C3 as my informal “operational brainstorming” group.
I appreciate all the thought, energy and effort that went into helping vet this idea for our council. As always, thanks for your commitment to our Girl Scouts!
Yours in Girl Scouting,