Getting ready for action

As I mentioned in the last post, we newly-elected folks were invited to Chicago last week for an orientation session and to attend the May Council meeting. This was a great opportunity. In addition to the benefits from the orientation, it was just great to see how things work in a Council meeting prior to being thrown into the fire.

On Wednesday, May 11, we wrapped up orientation around 1:30pm and then took a short break before heading back to SAA HQ for the start of the Council meeting at 4pm. I spent a good chunk of the break time at a small comics shop that’s just a block away from the hotel where we were staying. [side note: both Prez and Paper Girls in trade are well worth the money!] It was nice to have that little bit of down time just to walk around outside before kicking back in to professional gear.

For those who don’t know, the SAA Council meeting agenda and supporting documentation are made available on the SAA website in advance of the meetings. A first posting of the material goes up two weeks before the start of the meeting. A final posting is updated a week before the meeting. You can find all of this information on the SAA Council page of the website. On the awesome new SAA homepage, you can navigate to this by going to “About SAA” and then select “SAA Council” under the Governance section on the far right of the menu.

Prior to the meetings, Council members are expected to read all of the reports and other supporting documents that you see on the meeting agenda website. It’s a lot of stuff to read, review, and keep straight. But anyone can look on the website and see the stuff that Council is given in preparation of their meetings (with the rare exception of something that needs to be confidential).

So here’s the full agenda from the May meeting. The meeting minutes will be released soon and I’ll talk more about those when they are up. But for now, I just wanted to talk a bit about the agenda itself and how Council works through that agenda to actually do their work at these meetings. You’ll see that the agenda is divided into seven broad categories spread out over the course of the meeting time. Those seven categories are:

  • Council Business (2x). This actually is listed twice — at the start of the meeting agenda and at the close. Basically, this is a formal adoption of the agenda and then a review of what happened and what action will be taking place to address any issues that arose during the meeting.
  • Consent Agenda. The consent agenda lets Council quickly address matters that are probably considered routine or noncontroversial. Basically, the SAA President calls for a vote on adopting the consent agenda — and all of the items contained therein. Each Council member has the option of removing any item (or items) from the consent agenda if they have a question or want to discuss something. If an item is removed from the consent agenda, it is considered and voted on separately.The remaining consent agenda items are then voted on as a block. No need to spend time taking formal votes on each and every one.
  • Strategic Planning. The strategic plan is reviewed, and progress (or lack of progress) on goals and actions are reviewed. You can see the strategic plan with the progress notes provided to Council at the May meeting here.
  • Action Agenda. This is where you find reports with specific recommendations from SAA groups. Typically, Council discusses the recommendations and then makes motions based on those recommendations.
  • Discussion Agenda. These are the items on which the president, a component group, or staff (or other group) would like Council member feedback or perspectives in order to determine how to proceed with an issue or project.
  • Reports Agenda. Here you’ll find routine business, informational items, and reports from component groups and staff. Council members are free to ask questions about reports, but the reports usually aren’t discussed in detail.

At the May meeting, we were actually able to cover the entire agenda on Wednesday (running from 4pm to 8pm) and Thursday (running from 8am until about 4:30pm), and no meeting was needed Friday morning. So the timings may be adjusted from what you see in the agenda itself.

But that’s the general sense of preparation and organization for a Council meeting. When the meeting minutes are out, I’ll post a link to those with a bit more information about how the meeting itself went. Thanks for reading the blog, and please feel free to get in touch if you have feedback or questions!

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