Role of Past Presidents

Donna Dunn

    Associations always grapple with the role of past presidents. Should they continue to be involved? And what should that involvement look like? Past presidents can have needed influence with your association community but how best can you harness that influence?

    People have different opinions and experiences but I am not in favor of standing past presidents councils that do not have a specific defined outcome. Having a past presidents committee or council that makes past presidents feel good can unwittingly create a shadow board of directors who are no longer involved in the governance of the organization as the organization changes, but who have opinions on how the current board is working and doing the governance and leadership job.

    However, if there is a designated outcome for the group to work on, it can work great. Or if past presidents are used on an ad hoc basis in an advisory capacity on issues of significance without creating a formal structure. If a past president has a specific area of specialty be sure to tap into that on a committee or task force that is working on a specific outcome or project.

    But to create a formal structure without a specific scope of work is, in my experience, an opportunity for an influential group to derail, or at least publicly critique, the work of the current board leadership.

    About the Author

    Donna Dunn

    Donna Dunn, CAE has more than 25 years of association leadership experience, including her role as CEO of the Association of YMCA Professionals. Donna's personal mission is to make sure people have what they need to be the best they can be.