Everyone “gives back” in different ways. One of the ways I have tried to give back over the years is to serve on various Boards of Directors. Yesterday was my last day as a member of the Board of the BC Courthouse Library Society (CLBC). I leave with immense gratitude to CLBC, its board members and staff, realizing that whatever I was able to contribute to CLBC was eclipsed by the benefits that I gained in learning, expertise and experience.
One of the reasons I agreed to join the CLBC board was a chance to work with, and learn from, former CEO Johanne Blenkin. I was Executive Director of Mediate BC Society at the time and I was seeking an informal mentoring relationship with a respected woman leader. During my time on the CLBC Board I learned much from Johanne, including that it was possible to both develop strong relationships and hold one’s own in the face of disagreement or conflict with assertiveness and diplomacy. I’m still working on that one!
The other main reason I wanted to join the CLBC board was to support CLBC itself. I was looking for an organization whose goals aligned with my own passions (mostly importantly to assist the BC justice system to work better for its users, the public). CLBC’s mandate is broad and its reach significant. It serves the BC legal profession, the Judiciary and the public throughout the province. It is generously supported by the Law Society of BC, the Law Foundation of BC and the Ministry of Attorney General. CLBC operates within a very complex environment which is experiencing constant change, often limited resources and various forms of disruption. By collaborating with other organizations and individuals, CLBC is making a positive impact on justice reform and access to justice. It has been a leader in innovation through creative technology tools (Clicklaw for example), and other initiatives such as acting as a backbone for Access to Justice BC and supporting the BC Family Justice Innovation Lab.
In addition to being able to serve, I reaped many unexpected personal and professional benefits. During my time as a board member I was able to expand my understanding of, and experience with, a myriad of board governance processes, including CEO succession planning, board member selection processes, aw well as board and CEO evaluation techniques. I also participated in inspiring and generative board/management discussions about the organization’s strategy and future (including a scenario planning process facilitated by the indomitable Jane Morley Q.C.).
It was also really helpful to get to know colleagues working in other parts of the profession. I owe special thanks to Alan Ross, who has served as CLBC board chair since 2015 and represents CLBC with intelligence, wisdom and dedication (not to mention his wonderful sense of humour). I leave with great hope for the future of CLBC, particularly under the leadership of new CEO Kensi Gounden and an expanded board of very gifted people (Mark Virgin, Mary Ellen Hodgins, Sally Rudolf, Stacy Kuiack, Katie Armitage, Meg Gaily and Jeff Locke).
For those of you who are looking to give back, consider serving as a board or committee member of an organization that meshes well with your own passions. Your training, skills and experience can be enormously valuable to the organization and my guess is that you will learn much along the way.
I leave CLBC with a grateful heart. Thanks for a wonderful ride. Warmest wishes to you as you continue to collaborate to serve the profession and the people of BC.