Over the last weekend in January, the USPA Board of Directors held its second hybrid-format meeting, meaning that some board members attended in person, while others attended virtually. We also took steps to make this hybrid meeting available to all members in good standing, as well as invited guests, via webcast. Due to recent circumstances, remote attendance at meetings has become less of a luxury and more of a necessity for most organizations, and USPA is no exception. Although virtual meetings are part of our everyday business since we have a number of off-site employees, having our 22-member board meet virtually—and hosting our membership virtually—presented some unique challenges.
The webcasts of recent board meetings have empowered our members to learn more about their organization, while providing an appropriate level of transparency as to how the board makes decisions. It always bugged me when I heard—and still occasionally hear—people say that USPA is a “good old boys club” or that decisions are made in mysterious back-room meetings. It’s one of the reasons I chose to learn more about our organization and eventually ran for a board seat in 2012. With a bit of research, I learned that there was absolutely no mystery to how USPA operates at all.
USPA has a committee-based board of directors (not unlike hundreds of other associations), and at the recent meeting, members received a first-hand view of how that works. Members of USPA were able to view, listen and participate at the meeting and thus gain a better understanding of how the board and staff functions. USPA created a webpage to manage the meeting, complete with a schedule that included committee descriptions, member lists and agendas, allowing attendees to learn about happenings in their areas of interest. It was great stuff and a big step toward making USPA governance more transparent.
Of course, the task of holding a virtual meeting came with its share of challenges: ensuring that the hotel’s bandwidth would support a virtual meeting, acquiring the audio and visual equipment necessary to make sure all 22 board members could be heard and seen, figuring out how USPA members could participate, learning how to close a session for discussion of confidential topics and managing the legal ramifications of webcasting the meetings. It took a fair amount of planning, and we ran into a few technical issues along the way, but overall it was a great success and is leading USPA in the right direction.
Later this year, USPA will hold the general election for the next three-year term of its board of directors. To learn how the board works and to make the wisest decision as to whom you elect, plan on attending the summer USPA Board of Directors Meeting, which will also be webcast. It will provide you, as a USPA member, a fantastic opportunity to become more informed as we lead our organization into the future.
A summary of the USPA Board’s actions at the winter 2021 meeting will appear in the April issue of Parachutist.