by Sharon Rippner
Changing of the Guard
I begin this President’s Message with a profound thank you to Carole Maurer. After serving the Sangha in many prior roles, Carole began serving as President of the Board in January, 2015. During her 5-year tenure as president, she provided steady and professional leadership and helped WHS blossom into the vibrant Sangha it is today. In January, Carole began her new Board role of Past President. I am very grateful for her mentoring and assistance as I have taken on the responsibilities of being President.
I also want to thank James Coleman for his twenty years of Board service to WHS. While he recently decided to step off the Board, it is not to take a rest from Sangha responsibilities. Rather, he is devoting more time to the Education and Practice Committee, where he is hard at work on the additional Buddhist study and practice opportunities being planned for WHS.
Next, I welcome three new Board Members: Ramdas Kenjali, Clé VanBuerden and Charlene West. Each of these people brings talents and interests to the Board which will be well-utilized in the coming months and years. Our Board is now, once again, complete with 15 members, including these officers: Russell Hodin, a long-time Board member, begins serving as Vice-President, Greg Thomas will continue as Treasurer, and Kathy Headtke will continue as Secretary.
Reorganizing for Efficiency
In the past, handling all areas of business pertaining to our Sangha, i.e., governance, financial and operational, could be done by the Board at quarterly meetings. However, since moving to our present location almost three years ago, we have grown and developed as a Sangha and our operational activities have increased significantly. Attempting to continue to handle these activities during our full Board meetings has become quite burdensome and inefficient. So, as we start a new decade, the Board has decided to experiment with establishing an Executive Committee to handle the operational business of the Sangha.
Currently, the Executive Committee (EC) has six members: President, Vice President, and Past President, and Board members representing the Education/Practice Committee (Co-Chair Mick Malotte) and the Retreat Committee (Chair Susan Quinones). Last, but certainly not least, is a new and expanded WHS Volunteer Coordinator position, which Bob Liss has agreed to fill.
Each of the people on the EC has responsibility for assisting in various areas of Sangha operation (view flow chart). The EC’s role is to consider, approve and implement needed or desired projects while helping to resolve any challenges that might arise in or between the various committees and operational areas.
The EC will meet more frequently than the Board (minimum of 8 times a year). As President of the Board and Chair of the EC, I am responsible for creating the agendas for and summaries of EC meetings and making them available to the Board for review. In addition, I will prepare a detailed quarterly report to the Board regarding the operational activities of the Sangha. In January, the Board granted the EC financial authority to spend up to $500/program or project, as needed, without seeking full Board approval. Otherwise, the full Board of Directors retains all governance and financial responsibilities for WHS, as well as oversight of the work of the EC.
The members of the WHS Board and its Committees work to put in place the opportunities for practice that we all enjoy. There are many plans for this coming year and beyond, which will provide opportunities for shared practice. The WHS calendar for 2020 is filling up with outstanding 2-day retreat offerings (see retreat schedule), shorter day programs, and an increasing number of sitting groups (more info). Often, the only limiting factor to shared practice opportunities is not having sufficient volunteers to bring them about. Therefore, whether you are an “old timer” at WHS or a “newby”, I encourage you to consider volunteering some of your time to assist your Sangha in any one of the many activities we sponsor. Please contact Bob Liss at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss possibilities.
The Dharma teaches that of the Three Refuges (Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha) it is Sangha—our shared community of those following the EightFold Path—that is the most important. It is through taking refuge in the Sangha that we are supported in our practice and study of the Dharma. I will certainly be taking refuge this year as I learn about my new role and path of service. It is my hope that we all deepen our experience of taking refuge in our wonderful Sangha.