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I typically plod through the steps of preparing for our quarterly CultureSource board meetings: for instance, drafting briefs, considering venue and agenda, and curating a stimulating experience.

That process is not a burden; rather it is an intense practice of discipline.

Instead of the forty-four page book of documents for the board being an activity log, I force that packet to primarily reflect the meaning and alignment in our work. Instead of the board meeting being one-way reporting, I juice every minute to make our short ninety minutes feel like expansive space for authentic dialogue that swirls board member perspectives into novel possibilities for us.

Six years into being executive director, I am still adjusting to the intellectual rigor required for these meetings—and still working to deliver materials to the board on time. The labor, though, is motivating.

Here are some highlights from our most recent board meeting in September.

  • Michigan Central hosted our meeting, and director of civic partnerships Nate Wallace relayed a compelling vision of the campus enabling and inviting artistic innovation (with our members) alongside pioneering activity in tech and mobility.
  • Our summer and fall workshops, CEO roundtables, and advocacy initiatives are probing contemporary challenges of creative work. During the meeting, we used our new adaptive changemaking muscles (via our integration of EmcArts) to design a participatory, hands-on exploration of big trends and so-what statements featuring arts researcher guest Alan Brown.
  • Though CultureSource’s budget has grown 700% to $4 million in five years, the overwhelming majority of that has been restricted to programs benefiting you. Our finance review surfaced the vulnerabilities of that as well as new concepts (not directives) about realistic and reliable revenue that allows us to meet service needs.

Like you, we are juggling complexity and sets of everything-is-important priorities. That requires us to pursue success by differently leveraging, structuring, and engaging our whole organization, including our board. I feel uniquely fortunate, though, that the caliber and commitment of our administrative and governance teams mean that I do not have to bear the weight of these possibilities alone.

We hope you’ll find these anecdotes from our own board meeting useful as you think about planning your year-end board convenings. In the meantime, we’ll continue to strategize around developing resources to support you in engaging your board members in your head-scratching and opportunity-rich work.

Omari Rush
Executive Director