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Governance Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we need to vote if only one candidate for office is being put forward?

STFM bylaws require that STFM members approve the slate of candidates put forward by the Nominations Committee. This gives members an opportunity to see who is being recommended for the top leadership of STFM. Read here for more information on how the Nominations Committee identifies this slate of leaders.

Why do we follow this election process? 

The bylaws changes were created during a year-long process of examining the STFM governance structure to see what we were doing well and what we needed to change to improve. We formed a 12-person governance task force composed of a diverse group of members; the majority of these individuals were not on the Board of Directors. Following its year of study, which included gathering information from the membership through webinars, published information, blogs, and personal conversations, the governance task force made its recommendations to the Board. The move to an uncontested election wasn’t an idea that came from the Board, but was part of a thoughtful assessment process that included member input.

So what did the task force find problematic with our previous process? Our previous process of having a Nominations Committee of three select two candidates for each office was not seen as truly providing a strong member voice in the organization. Despite efforts to increase voter turnout, our election process where 80% of our members didn't vote was not an effective way to select leaders. It is the Board and governance task force's belief that having an open call for nominations, a bigger, more informed Nominations Committee, and a strategically selected slate is a better process for representing member interests and selecting qualified leaders for the Board. This is how the majority of nonprofit associations select their leaders.

It's also difficult to ensure diversity or be intentional about the expertise needed at a given time with a contested election. For example, in light of the Milestones and New Accreditation System, our current Board would benefit from having more community-based residency educators. We are also short on representation of family medicine educators who are not MDs. A slate allows us to select individuals to match these needs.

Finally, moving to an uncontested election addresses members’ concerns that potential talent on the Board is being missed when members who don’t win contested elections don’t rerun, and when qualified candidates, don’t wish to run in a contested election.

How do I get on the STFM Board of Directors?

While there is no one single pathway for being selected for the Board, generally, involvement in other leadership roles within the Society (previous Board service in a different role, committee chair, collaborative leadership, task force participant, etc.) is the most common way that individuals are selected for Board service. On occasion, an individual who has served in leadership roles in other family medicine organizations is selected for the Board if that person has a specific skill set that the Nominations Committee is looking for at a given time. In addition, one of STFM’s core values is diversity, and we are intentional in being diverse about the composition of our governance structures in the broadest sense.

Here is a list of leadership opportunities for members to consider.

How does the Nominations Committee make its selections for Board members?

The Nominations Committee considers a wide range of characteristics and factors in identifying Board of Director candidates, including:

  • specific perspectives and expertise needed on the Board, eg, visionary thinkers, residency directors, young faculty, etc.
  • unique expertise of the individual, eg, reputation for innovation
  • ability to represent the organization’s needs over personal (or group’s) interests
  • critical and strategic thinking skills
  • history of STFM involvement
  • strong leadership skills
  • effective fiscal management skills
  • contribution to diversity of the Board in the broadest sense - gender, age, degree, ethnicity, role, geography, etc.
  • For President Elect, the individual’s presence is important, as that individual will represent STFM to other key audiences within the family and outside family medicine.

Some of these same criteria, particularly diversity and critical thinking skills, are considered for committee and task force appointments, as well.

When does the Nominations Committee make its selections for the Board?

 July  Staff Announce call for open officer positions.
 July/August  Members Members interested in serving on the Board submit requested materials.
September  Nominations Cmte

Meets by phone and:

  • Reviews Board expertise needed
  • Reviews qualifications of existing names pooled from previous years' Nominations Committee discussions
  • Adds to the list names received through the open call, plus a list of members to consider who did not self-nominate, but who have been identified by peers or STFM staff as desirable candidates
Late October Nominations Cmte Second conference call: Reviews new invited applications among other candidates, creates draft slate. If slate is finalized, cmte members get agreement to serve with #1 ranked individual for each position.
November Nominations Cmte If slate is not finalized, hold 3rd conference call. Finalize slate and confirm agreement to serve with individuals.
January  Candidates/Staff

Slate candidates submit the following information to staff:

  1. Position statement, biosketch and responses to three leadership questions
  2. 3-5 minute video to introduce themselves and educate membership on their qualifications
February Staff/Members Slate information is posted on website and disseminated through STFM media channels.
February 12 Members

Vote opens. Members can select which candidates they wish to vote for, or they can vote for the entire slate. Members can also write in candidates.


February 26 Staff Voting closes.
February 28 Staff New officers are announced in the STFM Messenger and on the website


What happens to names that are submitted but not selected for the Board?

These names are put on a list so that when opportunities arise for other leadership positions within the organization, ie, committee memberships, task forces, etc., the STFM staff and leadership have people already identified who can be nominated for these roles.

Will the Board’s resident and student representatives be selected by a slate?

The resident and student representatives to the STFM Board are the only two positions in which the Board members can be seen as representing specific constituencies.  For that reason, they will continue to be elected by their peers at the National Conference on Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students.

One of the changes in the new bylaws gave the resident and student representatives voting privileges.

How are committee members selected?

Serving on a committee is a leadership opportunity that interests many members, which is wonderful! Generally, STFM committees have eight spots, including the chair’s position. Members serve 2-year terms that may be renewed for 2 additional years. 

Committee chairs have a strong voice in selecting the other members of their committees. In concert with staff, committee chairs review the current expertise and identify expertise/perspectives needed for their committees, considering a wide range of characteristics and factors, including:

  • Specific perspectives and expertise needed on the committee, eg, visionary thinkers, residency directors, young faculty, etc.
  • Unique expertise of the individual, eg, reputation for innovation
  • Ability to represent the organization’s needs over personal interests
  • Critical and strategic thinking skills
  • History of STFM involvement, eg, as a group chair or on a task force, regular conference presenter/attendee
  • Potential for leadership development
  • Contribution to diversity of the Board in the broadest sense - gender, age, degree, ethnicity, role, geography, etc.
STFM maintains a list of individuals who have volunteered or have been nominated by others for committee membership. STFM sends out an annual call for committees with open positions. The chairs and staff review this list of members and others whose individual talents match the specific committee needs. The committee chair recommends names for committee members to the STFM Board for approval.

Copyright 2018 by Society of Teachers of Family Medicine