Hi Karen, thanks for engaging with the discussion here, I really respect and appreciate your input.
It’s also completely possible to find directors from within the member base who don’t fully engage in some of the aspects of being a director, or it’s not at all what they expected, or some combination thereof. This is likely also compounded by the nature of what the board is doing - or trying to do - changing substantially over the past few years I’ve sat on it as well.
Our BoardSource self-assessment last year indicated a consensus that the board thought we had improved in several areas, and indicated others where we had more work to do! Board meetings where people are too quiet, or agree too quickly, make me very nervous that we’re not doing the most rigorous job we can at generating and evaluating ideas.
The governance committee members can weigh in here if they wish, but my understanding is that they did also consider the idea of directly appointing directors as a way to seek specific skills or experience by adding individuals to the board to supplement to the elected seats. This felt far riskier in the ways you describe, in terms of someone who looked good or well-connected “on paper” but didn’t click and have a good values alignment in the organization.
Introducing potential external candidates to the existing election process means that any appointments go before the foundation membership to be vetted, considering the relevance of their experience, reputation, alignment to the mission and values held. Partly as a result of the pro-active membership renewal process, the foundation enjoys pretty high voter turn-outs and engagement in the election process than some nonprofits.
In practice I don’t expect this to be a revolutionary change as I think a significant number of votes will continue to go towards people known within the GNOME community, particularly if their platforms speak well to the concerns of the members who are voting. But if we could have just one or two directors drawn from a wider pool, I think this will bring some “fresh air” and different ideas/opinions into the board meetings, and could improve our opportunities to connect with the outside world we hope to better serve.
(We did for a period of time have a fundraising committee but it never grew its membership beyond those individuals who were already the ones involved in pursuing sponsors, particularly for events, so it didn’t really impact the status quo and was disbanded, and our current governance committee is a subset of the board. Looking to bring external experienced advisors into those committees is, regardless of the above outcome, a fantastic idea.)