About  >  Governance  >  Governance FAQs
Printed from: http://www.stfm.org/About/Governance/GovernanceFAQs
Governance Frequently Asked Questions

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, group chair, 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.

What improvements will be made to the Nominations Committee through the recent governance changes?

STFM has moved from a three-person Nominations Committee that selected election candidates to a six-person Nominations Committee, four of whom are not on the Board but have had some involvement in the organization. The new committee brings a balance of members with insight on the current strategic issues of the organization, based on their Board participation, plus voices outside the Board for fresh ideas and insights.

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.
March 9 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.

Two reminders are sent.

March 30 Staff Voting closes after 3 weeks.
March 31 Staff New officers are announced in the STFM Messenger and on the website


What is the difference between a contested election and an uncontested election?

Contested elections are what STFM has historically had. The Nominations Committee selects two candidates to run for each office, and our members select, via their vote, the individual who is elected to that Board position. Majority winner of votes gets to hold that office. We've had about 20% of our members vote in our elections.

An uncontested election means that the Nominations Committee presents members with a slate of one candidate presented to them for each office. Members may choose to vote for the entire slate, vote only for specific individuals, not vote for anyone, or write in another candidate.

Why the move to an uncontested election? What was wrong with the old election system?

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.

Won’t an uncontested election give too much power to the Board?

We have spent a great deal of time discussing issues related to the Board becoming blinded or unresponsive to what is needed and members’ perceived loss of power to change the direction of the organization. First, it’s important to note that the Board does not select or approve the slate. That’s the Nominations Committee’s job.

In addition to the governance changes related to elections, one of our top priorities is to increase both transparency and opportunities for member input. This FAQ is a demonstration of how we are trying to increase transparency and understanding about how leaders are selected and how individuals can find a path to get involved in the organization if interested. Our process for changing our logo provides an example of how we used members' input, and ultimately their vote, to select our new logo. More engagement is essential, and we are creating a plan to increase opportunities for member input in decisions.

How will members not in the leadership have a voice in the direction of the organization?

One issue that arose from the gap analysis in the governance assessment process was the need for STFM to be more data driven and get member input on a more consistent basis.

Being transparent about the selection process for getting involved as well as open outreach are critical steps. As one example of outreach to the membership, we went out with a call to the membership last fall inviting members to nominate themselves for the Board. While we don't have enough Board slots for everyone who applied, we are looking for ways to get individuals who expressed an interest in serving STFM involved right away in the STFM leadership through committees, task forces, and group chair roles. Leadership roles, like these, have an important role in shaping our work and the direction of the organization.

Other steps taken:

  • Our call for volunteers for the Residency Accreditation Task Force resulted in 24 names, and the majority of task force members were selected from the members who responded to the call.
  • We have plans to increase the number of focus groups at conferences to get member input on key issues and initiatives of the organization.
  • This fall’s member needs assessment survey gathered input from members on future strategic priorities for STFM.
  • We have a presence in the Village at the Annual Spring Conference to answer questions about getting involved.
  • We are proactively looking for future leaders and reaching out to members to get involved in leadership roles.
  • We are working on technology solutions to serve as mechanisms for increased member input on important issues.

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 2017 by Society of Teachers of Family Medicine