MAG is committed to a world where the planet and all who inhabit it are treated with dignity and love, and where resources and power are shared in ways that enable everyone the opportunity to realize their potential and live life fully. Over the past few years, as we honed this vision and our understanding of the five elements needed to build a thriving justice ecosystem, MAG also developed a greater need and capacity for working in networked ways – in partnership with individuals, institutions, networks and systems. As our organization has evolved, we see an opportunity and need to also adapt our governance structure to better align with our core values and the networked, complex ways in which we and our partners work.
To this end, MAG is seeking curious and imaginative colleagues to join us in living into a new and yet-to-be-imagined form of nonprofit governance. Specifically, we are in search of:
- Partners (non-board) to learn and experiment with us through communities of practice and/or other shared learning channels
- Additional board members to help steward this vision through experimentation and action on our board
Why now? What are we thinking?
We see “governance” as how and why MAG, with others, attracts and deploys resources. Our quest for updated governance structures is rooted in our belief that traditional board models no longer serve us (or serve us completely) in today’s complex social justice environment. Our current board is skillful, committed to racial equity and to MAG’s mission, and is highly effective by conventional board standards. However, like with so many nonprofits, our governance structure often leaves significant staff and board members’ skills untapped and sometimes fails to bring members’ valuable talents, perspectives and networks to MAG’s fast-changing environment.
In an effort to better align our culture, operations and organizational leadership with our values and the five elements, MAG is reimagining the nonprofit board function in the context of a more adaptive, networked and powerful governance system. We seek open, alive, creative governance structures that add value for all participants—staff, partners and holders of MAG’s fiduciary and legal obligations—all in service of MAG’s mission and core values.
In this new governance model, we imagine traditional board fiduciary and legal functions fulfilled, though they will be closely integrated with communities of practice and other structures for co-creating strategy and outreach. Some governance structures will be entirely new. We imagine alternative structures that hold multiple tensions, for example between keeping critical distance (keeping the long-term/big picture in mind) and co-creating strategy; between continuity and porosity of ideas and people; between maintaining a strong through-line on direction and values while being nimble and adaptive. Images like mycelium and network weaving come up when we imagine new forms of governance.
Time is always a concern. Through new governance structures, we aim to create abundance and new efficiencies gained through more seamless collaboration, and shared labor across our board, staff and partners—all based on mutual passion that not only serves MAG’s needs, but also the needs of organizations, ecosystems and networks from which board members and partners come. Consequently, we see some governance activities taking less time and some requiring more time than those executed on traditional boards. We are going for alignment, mutual added value, and greater impact of our individual and collective work.
Who we are seeking…
Partners in Experimentation: In addition to board members to live into our new governance structure, we are also seeking learning partners to help us deepen learning and experimentation around new governance possibilities. Partners will join MAG as participants in various experiments and/or communities of practice alongside other organizations exploring alternative governance structures.
Board Members: MAG’s board stands at eight people, all committed to this reimagining of governance. We seek up to four new board members to join us in this transition to new governance structures that we can sense but not yet know. Terms are currently three years, renewable for two consecutive terms, but we are open to different term commitments during this experimental time. In this time of transition, we need people who can commit to participating in two in-person and two teleconference meetings per year; in working groups; and in governance experiments that may require from one to a few hours per month. We value board members who bring traditional governance skills (e.g., legal, fiduciary, finance, etc.). However, first and foremost, we are seeking individuals who are interested in experimenting with various governance models and creating something new with us. We are also seeking people interested in stepping into governance leadership roles.
We are looking for learning partners and board members with the following qualities:
Ways of being
- Commitment to advancing MAG’s mission and the five elements
- Faithfulness to enacting MAG’s values and in some way integrating equity and one or more of the other Five Elements into your work and life
- Commitment to participating in communities of practice or experiment teams that explore new models of networked governance and the intersection of governance and the five elements
- Agile and creative; able to imagine new possibilities and design and participate in experiments to test them
- Comfort with uncertainty and holding dilemmas or tensions; able to see new possibilities and “both/and” pathways where others see only “either/or” choices
- Capacity to commit time to governance experiments and/or to traditional MAG Board roles during this transition
- Experience in nonprofit governance, with openness and imagination about new governance structures
- Experience in a community of practice or similar collective learning and experimentation group
- Experience in and commitment to one or more of the social causes where MAG works
Interested or know someone who might be? Here are some next steps…
If you are interested in being considered for a board position or to engage with MAG as a partner in experimentation, please fill out the following 15-minute questionnaire to share a bit about who you are and why you’re excited about this opportunity. This is not a commitment to join the board or to partner with us, but a small step to indicate that you are interested in this opportunity and would like to learn more. We are accepting responses through Wednesday, September 19.
A member of MAG’s governance committee will reach out to you about next steps in September (for those interested in a board role) and November/December (for a partner role) and, if necessary, will schedule a phone call to discuss what you hope to gain from board membership or as a partner in experimentation and expectations for the role. While we have outlined steps for follow up, we are holding this process as a small experiment in and of itself and want to leave room for new opportunities and pathways to emerge as we go.
Feel free to forward this invitation to other individuals you think might be a good fit for either role. Please reach out to Natalie Bamdad with any questions.
Come join us on this adventure!