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The Board Chairman's Role

January 2005
By: Tom Lothamer
The chairman should advocate for the director with the rest of the board, acting as a buffer on occasion while at other times interpreting the director's vision and passion.

I have the privilege of visiting with pregnancy care center directors and board members all over the country. Questions about board governance come up in almost every conversation: What is the role of the PCC's board? What should the relationship between the director and board be like? What is the role of individual board members? What special role does the board chairman play?

We'll discuss these and other questions in future columns, but for now I'd like to tackle the last one about the all-important role of the board chairman. As I go from one PCC to another, I often find board chairmen who play out their roles in one of two extremes. They are either too passive, not providing desperately needed leadership, or too aggressive, trying to be the "boss" of the ministry.

The position of board chairman of any ministry is one of the most strategic in the organization. If the PCC is to be successful, the board chairman should:

• Work closely with the executive director by offering him or her encouragement and guidance

• Assist the director in determining the agenda for board meetings

• Advocate for the director with the rest of the board, acting as a buffer on occasion while at other times interpreting the director's vision and passion

• Chair board meetings

• Act as a spokesperson for the PCC to the community

• Guide fellow board members in achieving consensus and unity

• Motivate other board members to carry out their board responsibilities

• Stay informed on issues relating to the ministry

• Lead in the giving of time, talents, and treasure to the ministry

Baptists for Life is blessed to have just such an executive board chairman in Dave Bailey. He is a true friend to me and encourages our staff without getting involved in daily operations of the ministry. In fact, Dave is very good at avoiding the things no board member should do. That will be the subject of my next column.

Tom Lothamer is President of Life Matters Worldwide in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

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