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BOARD ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES IN INDEPENDENT LIVING CENTERS by Alan Meyer and Quentin Smith STAYING ON TRACK ILRU Management Support Series a publication of the ILRU Research & Training Center on Independent Living at TIRR 1991 by ILRU Program 2323 S. Shepherd, Suite 1000 Houston, TX 77019 (713) 520-0232, 520-5136 (TDD) ILRU PUBLICATION PRODUCTION TEAM: Rose Shepard, Dawn Heinsohn, Nancy Richards, and Laurie Gerken. Substantial support for development of this publication was provided by the Rehabilitation Services Administration and the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U. S. Department of Education. The content is the responsibility of ILRU, and no official endorsement of the Department of Education should be inferred. FOREWORD This publication is intended to assist board members of independent living centers in gaining a better understanding of the roles and responsibilities that they have assumed in taking on the task of governing an independent living center. It is divided into two parts. The first part deals with board members' roles and responsibilities in terms of a center's adherence to the independent living philosophy. For many, assuring center adherence to the independent living philosophy may be the most challenging aspect of serving as a board member. Experience indicates that philosophical commitment is very difficult to translate into policies and procedures and that it is easy to stray from the philosophy as one becomes engrossed in assuring that the center is staying on track in terms of sound management practices. In part one, we offer guidelines and practical suggestions to center board members to assist them in monitoring whether or not the center is adhering to the independent living philosophy. We also include practical suggestions for how to bring the center back into line if it appears that it may be straying philosophically. The second part of this publication deals with the more general--but equally important--roles and responsibilities of board members in setting policy and overseeing the practical operation of an independent living center according to sound management principles. We know from discussions with our colleagues in the field that it is often the practical management issues that lead to crises in centers--even those centers that are on target with respect to philosophical commitment. Simply put, failure to adhere to sound management practices can result in consequences (e.g., financial settlements, loss of funding, staff cuts) that seriously impair a center's ability to deliver services and that may result in the center's closing. In part two, we provide a basic framework for carrying out the three essential aspects of operational management--planning, implementing, and evaluating--and the three essential elements of fiscal management--budgeting, accounting, and analyzing. This section of the publication is not intended as an exhaustive discussion of operational management roles and responsibilities. A number of excellent publications on nonprofit board roles and responsibilities are listed in the Suggested Readings section of this publication, and readers are referred to these publications for more details on operational management. It is our hope, however, that this section will provide an adequate framework for center board members to gain a better understanding of what they should be doing with respect to overseeing center operations, so that they can assess their capabilities and determine what aspects of their management knowledge and skills require strengthening. Although this publication was developed primarily as a tool for new board members who have little or no experience in governing independent living centers and/or serving on nonprofit boards, the authors and editors believe that more experienced board members could benefit from much of the information provided. We welcome comments from the field concerning the value and utility of the information presented, and we encourage suggestions on how this publication might be improved and expanded. In preparing this work, we obtained firsthand perspectives of issues related to running an independent living center through interviews with the executive director and board president at five independent living centers. These included: Brenda Premo and Barbara Spear at the Dayle McIntosh Center in Anaheim, California; Larry Clott and Harold Gibson at North Idaho Center for Independent Living in Moscow, Idaho; Bob Williams and Mike Muehe at Boston Center for Independent Living in Boston, Massachusetts; Sandy Napombejra and Paul Gowins at Northern Nevada Center for Independent Living in Reno, Nevada; and Owen McCusker and Karen Prezentka at Access to Independence in Madison, Wisconsin. We also obtained valuable information from three former center directors: Judy Barricella, Vikki Rennick, and Maggie Shreve. In addition to these individuals, we also wish to express our thanks to the many other board members, center directors, and center staff who were of such inestimable help in developing this publication. It could not have been produced without their generous sharing of knowledge, experience, and--oftentimes--frustrations in taking on the challenging tasks of governing and operating independent living centers. LAUREL RICHARDS and QUENTIN SMITH Series Editors TABLE OF CONTENTS FOREWORD INTRODUCTION SECTION 1: THE BOARD MEMBER'S ROLE IN OPERATIONALIZING THE INDEPENDENT LIVING PHILOSOPHY The Special Mission of Independent Living Centers Uniqueness of Independent Living Centers Examining your Mission Statement Consumer Control in Independent Living Centers Definition of a "Consumer@ Membership vs. Self-Perpetuating Boards Consumer Advisory Boards Assuring Consumer Control The Role of Advocacy as an Independent Living Center Service Letting Advocacy Slip to a Back Burner Keeping Advocacy a Priority Promoting Self-Advocacy in Consumers Civil Rights and the Independent Living Movement Center Obligations in Promoting Civil Rights Maintaining a Civil Rights Orientation The Board's Role in Civil Rights The Staff's Role in Civil Rights Cross-disability Orientation of Independent Living Centers Meeting Cross-Disability Service Needs Responding to Community Needs Getting Community Feedback Summary of Responsibilities in Adhering to the Independent Living Philosophy SECTION II: OPERATIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF BOARD MEMBERS Responsibilities as a Trustee of Public Interest Legal Responsibilities: Criminal and Civil Accountability of Boards Accountability Under Civil Law Protecting Against Civil Suits Responsibilities for Oversight of Center Operations A Three-Part Management Strategy Planning's Multiple Purposes Benefits of Planning Implementing Your Plan Documenting Activities Evaluating Progress Connecting the Three Parts Responsibilities for Oversight of Center Finances Compliance with Internal Financial Requirements 1. Preparing Budgets 2. Accounting for Funds 3. Analyzing Financial Information Compliance with External Financial Requirements Binding Budgets Disallowed Spending Board Responsibilities in Budget Oversight Summary of Operational Responsibilities CLOSING OBSERVATIONS REFERENCES SUGGESTED READINGS Boards and Board Functions Legal Responsibilities and Legal Liability of Boards Fiscal Management Information for Board Members Independent Living Philosophy and Civil Rights ABOUT THE AUTHORS ABOUT ILRU BOARD ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES IN INDEPENDENT LIVING CENTERS INTRODUCTION The independent living movement was founded on the premise that persons with disabilities know best about services and service delivery approaches that make it possible for them to live independently in their communities (Roberts, 1977). Their frustrations with traditional service delivery approaches that provided little opportunity for persons obtaining services to be involved in major decisions that affected their lives led to development of the independent living center model of delivering services in the early 1970's (DeJong, 1981). Significantly, the hallmark of the early independent living center was commitment to consumer control at all levels of center operations; and, today, this commitment remains the most easily recognizable feature of independent living centers. True independent living centers have persons with disabilities in primary decisionmaking positions at both the governing board and staff levels (Nosek and Richards, 1987). Consumer control is recognized as the strength of independent living centers for it provides safeguards against the tendency to fall into patterns of service delivery that rob persons with disabilities of opportunities to direct service decisions that affect their lives (Kailes, 1988). Consumer control has not, however, come without a price. Because of a history of discrimination against persons with disabilities in educational as well as employment settings, the majority of consumers--persons with disabilities-have had little preparation in organizational development or day-to-day operations (Nosek and Smith, 1982). In the early and mid 1970's, when independent living centers were getting started, there were few persons with disabilities who had been given opportunities to pursue careers in management and business that would prepare them for managing complex organizations such as independent living centers. Likewise, persons with disabilities were not typically asked to serve on boards of other nonprofit organizations, such as United Way, that provide needed experience about how boards are supposed to operate. As such, over the past ten years, most independent living centers have been faced with growing their own crop of capable board members and managers who can maintain the commitment to independent living philosophical tenets while at the same time run a center according to sound business and management practices (Kailes, 1988). The field has made great strides un this regard, and today, there are many persons working in independent living centers and serving on boards of centers who not only understand their roles in making those centers run smoothly, but also know how to keep centers on track philosophically. Unfortunately, however, much of what has been learned by individual board members and center management staff in a number of successful, established centers around the country has not yet been made available to newer centers. Many centers continue to struggle through learning how to integrate independent living philosophy and good management practices while working with underprepared personnel or with people having to learn on the job. Since 1984, ILRU has had the good fortune to work closely with more than 75 executive directors of independent living centers in identifying management problems in independent living centers and in finding ways to address those problems effectively. One point that has been made consistently by these directors is that a good deal of effort is committed to helping inexperienced board members understand what their roles and responsibilities are in operating a center This effort demands the attention of executive directors themselves as well as the attention of more experienced board members and other staff members of centers. Naturally, these demands take away from time available to work on other important center matters, such as systems advocacy, service delivery, and fund raising. It is clear that a need exists. The field could benefit from resource materials that capture the experience and knowledge gained by well managed centers over the past decade. This document was produced in response to this need. In it, we have distilled philosophical and practical approaches to an independent living center board's role and responsibilities in operating an independent living center. The information that has gone into the preparation of this document was gathered through a number of methods Primarily, information was gained from indepth interviews with center directors and board presidents of five established and successful centers in different parts of the country. In addition to being selected to represent differences in geographical location, the five centers were chosen to represent a mix of large and small centers and centers with member-elected boards as well as self-perpetuating boards. In choosing board presidents and center directors to interview, our goal was to obtain a cross-section of the types of problems usually encountered in operating independent living centers as well as alternative methods for addressing these problems. Interviews with these center directors and board presidents followed a structured format consisting of 22 questions (some with multiple parts) focusing on issues ranging from identification of the most common obstacles encountered in assisting boards to function effectively to approaches for preventing problems that may arise when board and staff roles become blurred and improper communication occurs. Interviews were conducted separately--a total of ten interviews--by telephone with board presidents and executive directors to encourage candid responses to the questions. Lest you should think that these interviews were cursory and participants had little to say, the average length of call was over two hours. Results of the interviews provided both direction and a good portion of the content for this publication. The interview results have been augmented with information gathered from nearly 75 center directors who participated un management training programs conducted by ILRU from 1984 through 1987 and by information in management literature that has been reviewed by the authors. Finally, this document reflects experiences of the two authors, both of whom have been center directors and continue to be involved in management training for persons working in centers. We expect that many of you will recognize some of your own ideas regarding independent living philosophy and board roles and responsibilities in this document. Since we have drawn from many directors (those interviewed as well as those who participated in ILRU's management training) and several board presidents from around the country, the thoughts and ideas that you expressed may appear somewhat modified. The information provided to us by persons interviewed and by the many center managers who attended ILRU training sessions was invaluable in developing this publication. Ultimately, however, responsibility for the content of this publication belongs to the authors. We hope that the information is useful to centers in preparing boards to function effectively. We also hope to hear from you on ways that we might improve this publication so that it better meets the needs of the field SECTION I The Board Member's Role in Operationalizing the Independent Living Philosophy In order for an organization to be effective in carrying out its mission, the people who govern it must have a clear understanding of its special role and mission in the community. In this section, the special mission of independent living centers is discussed. It includes descriptions of these special qualities that make centers different from other human service organizations. In Section II, the discussion focuses on responsibilities with respect to operational and financial oversight that are the same for board members of many organizations. The Special Mission of Independent Living Centers Each of the five board presidents and five executive directors of independent living centers whom we interviewed for this publication stressed the special roles and missions of their centers. As noted earlier, independent living centers were established initially as an alternative to service agencies that employed traditional, and often paternalistic approaches to addressing the needs of persons with disabilities (Dart, 1987). However, the board presidents and center directors whom we interviewed were most concerned about how centers are making sure that the philosophical basis of the independent living concept is carried over into center operations. Ultimately, it is the board's responsibility to make sure that the center does not become just another social service agency. One of the primary reasons that persons with disabilities started independent living centers was that they had enough of being treated as clients or patients to be handled and disposed of in whatever fashion was determined to be expedient by a professional with a degree in medicine, counseling, or another field (Kailes, 1988). The risk that centers run, however, is that, if their board members are not vigilant, centers can become just like those other organizations. There is nothing magical about the term Aindependent living center" that makes a center immune to the potential for becoming just another social service agency, and, in fact, as Wolfensberger (1973) points out, many pioneering movements have difficulty assuming new goals and atrophy into routine service delivery agencies. Some of the people with whom we spoke in our interviews and in the ILRU management training sessions stated that a number of centers seem to be well on their way to becoming just like the agencies for which they were designed to provide an alternative. Although well-grounded staff members may keep your center on track philosophically, it is primarily the board's responsibility to g ude the ongoing development of the center and to set priorities and to establish agendas for meeting the needs of the community that a center serves. The goal setting and policy administration functions of the board are clear, and board-established goals and policies should guide the functional activities of the center (United Way, 1979) In other words, the board is responsible for what happens in the center, even though it may not have responsibility for day-to-day operations. The board cannot delegate these administrative responsibilities to staff. So now you may ask, AWhat are the unique aspects of centers that board members should keep in mind when making decisions that guide center operations?" We put this question to our study group of center directors and board presidents from around the country and received a variety of responses. All of the responses focused on commitment to the independent living philosophy. Although there were a few responses that we did not really expect, such as "it's their home,@ and "I don't really know," the great majority of respondents talked about unique characteristics that are very similar to standards adopted by the National Council on Disability (formerly National Council on the Handicapped) in 1985. It is remarkable that all but one of the individuals responding to the interview question on unique aspects of centers cited consumer involvement. Other frequently identified characteristics focused on the role of advocacy in centers, the civil rights orientation of center efforts, and the cross-disability focus of center activities. Uniqueness of Independent Living Centers We have taken the liberty of summarizing the four characteristics most frequently identified by persons who were interviewed. Independent living centers are unique in that they: @ Embody the concept of consumer control in board governance, in day-to-day management, in service delivery, and in determinations about services that consumers receive (i.e., consumers decide for themselves what services they need and want, rather than being told what they need): @ Are committed to advocacy at both the individual and community levels (the Asystems@ or community advocacy role is one to which most traditional service delivery agencies are typically less committed); @ Base their missions on the rights of persons with disabilities to be fully participating members of their communities (as opposed to many community agencies that view the people they serve as "needy" or deserving of welfare, help, or care); @ Are dedicated to involving persons with all types of disabilities in obtaining full civil rights and community access (rather than focusing on services and/or advocacy for persons with one type of disability such as orthopedic impairment or visual impairment). Consumer control. Traditional service providers tend to rely more on services provided by experts who are typically not individuals who have personal experience with disabilities. As Corthell and Van Boskirk (1988) have stated, traditional rehabilitation service provision ". . . has tended to emphasize an authoritarian relationship where a dominant overactive service provider acts upon a passive and submissive consumer." The consumer control orientation that underlies the independent living movement represents a radical departure from this traditional approach. Advocacy. Likewise, the strong commitment to advocacy is a distinguishing characteristic of independent living centers. While many service providers will provide assistance to individual consumers in securing benefits and requesting services, few other agencies define their roles in terms of demanding equal rights and equal opportunities for people with disabilities and serving as leaders in local, state, and national efforts to secure and protect those rights and opportunities. In her work on advocacy, Kailes (1988) cites works by Dart (1987), Hooper (1987), and Frieden (1987) that support independent living centers strong commitment to advocacy. Our interviews indicate that board presidents and directors of centers see this commitment as a unique and important characteristic of centers. Civil rights. The civil rights orientation of independent living centers is also different from the orientation of many traditional disability service organizations. Traditionally, organizations serving persons with disabilities were established on a charitable basis to assist those less fortunate. As Roth (1985) points out, many disability related programs developed from the charitable conception of disability that is exemplified in such activities as the muscular dystrophy telethon. Roth states; AIf ever there was a worthy group of poor persons it must be persons with disabilities.@ McConnell (1985) identified four stages in the evolution of disability policy: (1) outcast, (2) care and isolation, (3) treatment and rehabilitation, and (4) rights and mainstreaming. The responses that we received in our interviews indicate that persons responsible for directing the activities of centers view their centers as the primary vehicles for promoting disability rights in their communities; implying, according to McConnell's definition, that independent living centers represent the manifestation of the most highly evolved aspects of disability policy implementation. Cross-disability services. The concept of cross-disability services also represents a departure from established service approaches that tend to focus on a single disability group, such as is the case with people with cerebral palsy who are served by United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), people with muscular dystrophy who are served by the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), or people with mental retardation who are served by Associations for Retarded Citizens (ARC). Independent living's focus on cross-disability services grew out of both recognition of similar support service needs of persons with various types of disabling conditions and acknowledgement that large numbers of people working together toward common goals could accomplish more than individuals or small groups could accomplish working separately. In citing reasons why disability groups often fail to achieve their goals, Bowe and Williams (1979) indicated that organizations often ". . . try to go it alone rather than working with other groups toward common goals.@ These responses to our question on what makes independent living centers unique are consistent with standards set out in 1985 by the National Council on Disability. A copy of these standards are available from ILRU. The four characteristics--consumer control, commitment to advocacy, civil rights orientation, and cross disability service provision--are reflected in the evaluation standards that are currently under consideration by the Rehabilitation Services Administration and that are expected to be applied in assessing the performance of Title VII Part B funded independent living centers. Many of the organizations that use the term "independent living" in their names or descriptions do not measure up when viewed in light of these characteristics Examining Your Mission Statement On paper, this all looks good, but what does it mean to you as a board member? As we discussed in the first section of this publication, one of the important roles of a center board is to make sure that the center is sticking to its mission. The question that you should now be asking yourself is, "Does the mission statement for my center reflect the unique characteristics of the independent living movement?" As a board member, you should be very sure what the mission of the center is, how it is stated, and whether it conveys a clear message that your center adheres to a philosophy that sets it apart from traditional service organizations. We are not suggesting that you need a five page mission statement that describes everything that the center was established to do. Rather, the mission statement can be brief, but it should spell out in a general way the primary purpose of your center and what it hopes to accomplish (United Way, 1979). Also, keep in mind that the wording of your mission statement need not be exactly like the wording of all other independent living center mission statements. Your mission statement should be designed to meet the needs of the community you serve and at the same time it should reflect important independent living philosophical elements and concepts. By including these elements, you are more likely to assure that the center's programs, long-range plans, fund-raising efforts, etc. adhere to the independent living philosophy. Having the right written mission statement is only the start of what you need to do to fulfill your responsibilities as a board member. What do these four distinguishing characteristics mean in operational terms? Consumer Control in Independent Living Centers There has been a good deal of discussion around the question of, "What is a consumer?" This is an area of some disagreement among people in the field. Definition of a "Consumer" When we asked people in our study group to define a consumer, we got different responses. A majority of them said that anyone with a disability is a consumer. A large minority of them defined consumer as a person who uses or is eligible to use a substantial amount of the center's services or other public services or benefits (e.g., public transportation assistance, housing assistance, social security disability insurance). This issue is thorny enough that some centers are now using "primary consumer" to describe someone who is a user of center services and "secondary consumer" to describe people with disabilities who only indirectly benefit from centers' advocacy activities (Kailes, 1988). Some of the people interviewed felt that this level of differentiation is unnecessary and that it might, in fact, be divisive--by implying that some persons are more qualified than others to call themselves consumers. How your center defines consumer is extremely important in light of the consumer control issue. As the goal-setting and policy-making body for your center, the board needs to define what is meant by the term "consumer" in your center. Member-Elected vs. Self-Perpetuating Boards One part of this decision will involve determining if your board should be elected by a general membership made up of people with disabilities and other interested people in your community or be self-elected (i.e., the people serving on the board elect new members of the board-usually referred to as a self-perpetuating board). With a self-perpetuating board, those persons serving on the board are usually the organization's only members, and board members nominate and elect their replacements. In the case of membership organizations, consumers and other persons in the community who are members of the larger organization nominate and elect people to serve on the board (Curtis, 1980; Nosek and Smith, 1982). As indicated by Nosek and Smith, while the self-perpetuating board approach allows for more selectivity in filling board positions with persons who have special expertise, such as accountants and attorneys, it has the potential to be less responsive to consumers or others in the community who have little input into selecting board members. The member-elected board, on the other hand, may be very responsive to the community, but may have problems in maintaining a balance on the board in terms of having people with varying but important types of expertise, such as law and finance. The member-elected board is also vulnerable to manipulation through vote packing that can threaten organizational stability. We at ILRU are aware of at least two situations in which entire governing boards were ousted and replaced by persons elected by constituencies of new members recruited specifically for the purpose of electing a new board with its own agenda. This is an issue worth considering in determining the wording of bylaws sections dealing with member eligibility to vote for board members. Some of those we interviewed felt strongly that only those boards that are elected by membership constituencies and are composed of a majority of persons with disabilities are consumer controlled. Others felt equally strongly that self-perpetuating boards could legitimately be consumer controlled and may allow for better governance of the center through a more planned approach to board composition and through increased likelihood of board continuity. Regardless of the method you choose to define consumer or to select your board, keep in mind that the underlying philosophy behind independent living is that those who know best what people with disabilities need in order to live independently are disabled persons themselves (Roberts, 1977). Operationally, this means that people who use center services must have a substantive role in determining what those services will be and how they will be delivered. When decisions are made concerning issues to be addressed in the community (e.g., transportation, employment, housing), people who will be affected need to be included in the decision-making process. Holding public hearings on policy issues and program plans is one approach for getting consumer input, but such efforts are only gestures unless they are followed by decisions and actions that reflect the expressed wishes of consumers regarding policies and plans. Consumer Advisory Boards Some so-called "centers" have tried to get around the consumer control issue by having "consumer advisory boards." Although some of these "advisory" boards may be very effective, there is a clear difference between advice and governance. An advisory board does not have the final say in establishing policy, and its advice can be ignored. The people we interviewed, as well as the overwhelming majority of people participating in the ILRU management training programs, were not supportive of having persons with disabilities serving on advisory boards in lieu of having persons with disabilities on the governing board. Many expressed the opinion that advisory boards are appropriate for providing guidance in certain programmatic areas. In considering using an advisory board in lieu of having a consumer controlled board, remember that centers are obligated to act on the directives of their governing boards; however, they can take or leave recommendations of advisory boards. The advisory function cannot substitute for the policy-making function of the governing board. Assuring Consumer Control In summary, the thrust of this discussion is that you, as a board member, need to be sure that your center has in place mechanisms which assure that persons who are affected by board decisions have the means to influence those decisions in a concrete way. As Cole (1979) pointed out in one of the early discussions of independent living, involvement of consumers in the operation of independent living centers may vary from program to program, but true independent living centers will be characterized by the ". . . important influence of consumers on the policies and service delivery style of the program." This is not to say that 51 percent of your board must be composed of persons with disabilities who are direct recipients of services. Those whom we interviewed suggested that effective ways of getting consumer involvement in addition to board representation include having consumers serving on board committees and by encouraging consumers to work as volunteers in the center. In addition to encouraging consumers to provide input to center operations, these approaches may offer the added benefit of grooming consumers for positions on the governing board. Just as consumer control needs to be operationalized at the board level, it must also be reflected in the composition and work of the staff and volunteers. Several of the people in our study group suggested that having persons with disabilities serving in key staff positions is even more important than having persons with disabilities on the board. These individuals indicated that the involvement of persons with disabilities in day-to-day service delivery and staff direction is critical in keeping the center on a sound philosophical footing. While begging the issue of which is more important--having persons with disabilities in board roles or key staff roles-it is clear from the responses we received that persons being served must be substantially involved in determining: --what services they will receive; --how the services will be delivered; --what the goals of those services should be; and --whether or not those goals were achieved. Because the board is responsible for overall center operations, it is unequivocally part of its responsibilities to monitor closely consumer involvement at all levels and to take corrective action when the center appears to be departing from the important independent living commitment to consumer control. The independent living philosophy is built around the concept of people taking control of their own lives and becoming as independent as they desire. As a board member you need to be sure that the board, through appropriate committees and through regular reports from service staff, is monitoring the way in which staff are delivering services and that services are being delivered in a way that is consistent with independent living philosophy. The Role of Advocacy as an Independent Living Center Service As funds were secured to establish and to operate independent living centers, many organizations that had previously been involved only in community advocacy found themselves receiving grants which put them in direct service provider roles. Staff and boards of these new independent living centers suddenly found that they were expected--often by the very agencies that had previously been targets of their advocacy efforts--to deliver high quality services and to be accountable for those services. In many centers, funding to support these services was channeled through the state vocational rehabilitation agency, and the state agency had oversight responsibility for center service delivery activities. In addition to now being held accountable for delivery of services and management of funds, many centers were also given the message--in a sometimes not very subtle way-that those funds were meant for service delivery only. Letting Advocacy Slip to a Back Burner We have heard from many board members, center directors, and staff that with all of the requirements and time demands of service delivery, it is very hard to find time for advocacy. One term that consistently appeared in our interviews and training program discussions was "co-opt.@ Center board members and administrators said that they were concerned about becoming "co-opted" by becoming just like traditional service delivery agencies that had been the very targets of consumer-group advocacy efforts before these groups got into the service delivery business. The manner in which centers can be co-opted can take several forms. For example, in an effort to satisfy external funding and/or oversight agencies, centers can begin adopting exclusionary eligibility requirements and/or using extensive and intrusive "intake" procedures before providing services. Centers can implement complicated Acase management" systems that stress documentation at the expense of time that could be used for achieving results. And, centers can become less aggressive in advocating for changes in an inadequate or poorly functioning service system or agency because board and staff members fear retaliation that might include loss of funding from a public or private agency. The attractiveness of obtaining funds for service delivery, the extraordinary demands for services from people with disabilities living in communities served by centers, and the real or implied prohibitions against what might be considered lobbying activities (e.g., community organizing, demonstrating, organizing letter writing campaigns to elected representatives) provided incentives for some centers to back away from community advocacy activities. The people with whom we have discussed this issue state that often there is no conscious decision to be less aggressive in systems advocacy efforts, but center boards and staff found themselves with a whole new set of responsibilities, and systems advocacy just got moved to the back burner. Keeping Advocacy a Priority A consistent theme in our interviews and training sessions is that systems advocacy services must be a high priority in centers and that these services must be planned, delivered, and monitored in the same way as services provided to individuals. You can do this by requesting on a regular basis information about what board and staff members are doing on community, state, and national fronts to secure and to maintain equal rights for persons with disabilities. You can also monitor issues and activities in your community (e.g., housing, transportation, employment) that affect persons with disabilities. This can be done by following local media reports, networking with community leaders, and attending community government meetings where these issues are raised. You should ask your board how the center is responding to these issues and activities and what role the center is playing in them. Many centers have a standing committee focusing on advocacy, which has as its primary responsibilities guiding advocacy activities of the center and monitoring progress toward specified advocacy goals. Perhaps the most important thing that you can do as a board member is to ask at every board meeting how ongoing and proposed activities relate to the stated mission of the center. If your mission statement is on target philosophically, and if it states clearly that the center will actively engage in efforts to promote independence for all persons with disabilities, then you will not have problems in justifying your insistence on active advocacy efforts or in resisting activities or positions that jeopardize advocacy efforts. Services are important, but as Gliedman and Roth (1980) point out in their discussion of the minority status of children with disabilities, reliance on services only will never fully solve the problem. According to them, the service approach is based on the notion that A. . . the best way to improve social position of an underprivileged minority relative to other groups is to provide the minority individual with a set of services that seeks to minimize his deviation from the mainstream--especially first-rate education and vocational training. This approach is useful, but it seriously oversimplifies the problem of achieving social change in the face of prejudice and discrimination.@ People with disabilities have experienced centuries of prejudice and discrimination, and simply providing an array of services--no matter how good the quality of those services--will not correct the situation. Aggressive advocacy should focus on eliminating discrimination against people with disabilities. Promoting Self-Advocacy in Consumers A second aspect of your center's role in advocacy relates to individual advocacy services. In our training sessions, an issue that is frequently raised by executive directors and middle managers is the need to work with staff regularly to encourage them to assist consumers in problem solving rather than to problem solve for consumers. Through our telephone interviews and training sessions this notion was reinforced: as a board member you need to make sure that your center is working with people not only to resolve particular situations, but also to teach them how to advocate effectively for themselves and for others. This will ensure that people with disabilities who come to your center for assistance will not become dependent on the center, but will develop the skills to obtain what they need for themselves. As we were constantly reminded, this is what independent living is all about. This approach often requires more time, effort, and patience on the part of your center's staff and volunteers--things that overworked staff and volunteers may be hard pressed to commit. Both anecdotal reports and service data received by ILRU indicate that staff and volunteers are overloaded with delivering services, doing paperwork, attending meetings, and responding to advocacy demands. The extra time that it takes to teach someone how lo apply for social security benefits, rather than simply filling out the forms and having the person sign them, is substantial. There is, at times, an understandable tendency to expedite and to do things for people. Center administrators need to be aware of demands made on staff time and may need to take action to reduce workloads so that adequate time can be spent delivering services and doing advocacy in a manner consistent with the independent living philosophy. The board needs to determine if excessive paperwork demands are being made on staff and whether steps can be taken to reduce these demands so that staff have the time needed to spend with consumers. Safeguards that should be in place include a good evaluation system with input from persons who have received services on how the services were delivered. Another safeguard might involve regular reports to the board from service delivery staff on how services are being provided and skills are being taught. You need to listen carefully to these reports and be attuned to phrases like, "I arranged for John's transportation" or "I found Jane an apartment." You should be hearing things like, "We worked with John so that he could arrange for his transportation@ and "We worked with Jane to find an apartment.@ The people with whom we spoke emphasized that centers should serve as models in their communities of how self-directed services allow consumers to develop skills that enable them to deal with other problems that confront them in their lives. Civil Rights and the Independent Living Movement This is perhaps one of the most important-and, for some, one of the most subtle--areas of difference between independent living centers and traditional service delivery agencies. This is a subtle issue because many people do not readily perceive the advocacy and service delivery missions of independent living centers as addressing civil rights. Where traditional service delivery agencies are generally viewed as having the mission of administering some publicly or privately funded benefit program, independent living centers have historically perceived their primary mission as leading the right for the civil rights of persons with disabilities. This point was emphasized by a number of persons in our study group and has been raised as an issue repeatedly in training sessions for independent living center managers. Civil rights for persons with disabilities are no different from civil rights for other groups-ethnic minorities, women, the elderly--who have been discriminated against historically (DeJong, 1981). In a report prepared for the Mott Foundation by The Institute for Educational Leadership in 1983, the role of the independent living movement in affirming basic human rights for disabled persons was emphasized. These rights include: --To participate in the prerogatives and responsibilities of citizenship; --To have equal employment opportunities; --To access to public facilities, transportation, and affordable housing for all disabled people; --To obtain supportive services necessary for employment opportunities and full participation in society; --To have free, appropriate, and non-segregated education; --To bear, raise, and adopt children; --To participate fully in the cultural, social, recreational, and economic life of the community, --To live in dignified independence outside of institutional settings. Unfortunately, however, when these rights are denied to persons with disabilities because of architectural barriers, communication barriers, or attitudinal barriers, the same people who would be incensed if such opportunities were denied to a black person or a woman simply shrug off the problem and say, "Well, they didn't mean to discriminate," or "We just can't afford to make this accessible--it costs too much," or ''There is no qualified disabled person available to fill this job opening." Ten Broek (1966) summarized a number of factors that contribute to discrimination against people with disabilities. Included among these factors are ". . . public imaginings about what the inherent physical limitations must be; public solicitude about the safety to be achieved by keeping the disabled out of harm's way; public feelings of protective care and custodial security; public doubts about why the disabled should want to be abroad anyway; and public aversion to the sight of them and the conspicuous reminder of their plight." Center Obligations in Promoting Civil Rights Many center directors and some of the board presidents in our study group stated that your number one obligation as a board member of an independent living center is to advocate for and to protect the civil rights of the people whom you serve. This orientation to civil rights has been affirmed by the National Council on Disability in both Toward Independence (1986) and On The Threshold of Independence (1988). This civil rights orientation clearly separates independent living centers from benefit programs, such as the HUD-funded Section 8 housing program in the public sector and from many service providers in the private sector. As was clearly pointed out in Toward Independence, most federal programs targeted to people with disabilities A. . . are premised upon the dependency of the people who receive benefits." It can be stated that many private-sector initiatives, such as the Jerry Lewis telethon, focusing on disability-related issues likewise are targeted to the plight of the disabled person and the individual's inability to help himself or herself, rather than on the potential for independence that the individual may have. In describing federal programs, Toward Independence cited ". . . an underemphasis on initiatives for equal opportunity, independence, prevention, and self-sufficiency." A similar emphasis is often seen in private-sector disability focused campaigns in which people with disabilities are depicted as needing help or as objects of pity, but are not shown as people who have been denied opportunities and have been unable to obtain support services that would allow them to participate in their communities. In contrast, independent living centers take the position that they are not serving the "needy," but are helping to insure that persons with disabilities have full access to the same opportunities as do persons without disabilities. According to Toward Independence, the independent living philosophy ". . . should permeate the services and benefits supported by the federal government." Likewise, this attitude should permeate everything done by your center. Your newsletter, public service announcements, and other media should reflect the center's role in fighting for civil rights. Maintaining a Civil Rights Orientation Funding and other support for your programs and services should not be accepted if it means weakening on this position. In our management training programs, we have heard that the lure of money to support the center is sometimes hard to resist. However, we also hear that if those monies come with strings attached that would take your center away from its mission and goals, then your center does not need them. As a board member, you need to be alert to the requirements of funding agencies. Make it clear to funding agencies at the outset that your center is committed to civil rights for persons with disabilities and that you will not operate programs or offer services that are based upon the premise that you are "helping the needy" or that do not promote independence and encourage the full participation of people with disabilities in all aspects of community life. As a board member, you should, on a regular basis, look closely at the services that your center offers and the manner in which these services are offered. If your center is beginning to look like one of those paternalistic or "charity" agencies (e.g., everyone is filling out forms while people who need services are sitting in the reception area awaiting their turn) that we have all seen so much of, then it is time for changes. The causes of paternalism or a "charity" orientation in center operations are not always externally generated (i.e., imposed by funding agencies or other outside agencies). Members of our study group expressed concern that many centers may not have the right orientation from the outset or may begin to change their orientation over time. It takes careful screening of persons serving in board, committee, staff, and volunteer roles to determine if their philosophies and practices are consistent with the center philosophy and mission. The Board's Role in Civil Rights With elected board members, you may have to do a great deal of educating and reorienting in order to change paternalistic perceptions. It may be that attitudes are so ingrained that change just does not happen. In this case, the collective pressure from other members of the board who are philosophically well-grounded should offset the faulty perspective of one or two board members, and in time and with luck, these individuals will realize that they are out of tune with the organization and will leave the board. If more than one or two board members have a paternalistic or charitable orientation, then you as a board member may have to start working with your center's constituents in the community, including other board members, to get changes made in board composition. This may be difficult to do, but it is essential if the center is to avoid falling into the trap of becoming just another social service agency. As a board member you have an obligation to talk to the constituency that you serve and to find out if members of that constituency are happy with the center and its services. The people whom we interviewed were adamant in saying that as a board member of an independent living center, you have an ongoing obligation to promote change that enhances the likelihood that people with disabilities will have equal opportunity in their communities and will be guaranteed their civil rights. If this requires changes in the board of the center that will strengthen its commitment to civil rights, then you should be advocating for such changes. All board members should be willing to "rock the boat" to make things better, whether the boat being rocked is the local city council, the local transit authority, or the independent living center board! Be prepared to clean up your own act as well as to take on other "villains" in your community. The Staffs Role in Civil Rights Just as with members of the board, center staff can have an orientation toward disability issues that is not on target. If your center director and management staff are well-grounded philosophically, they will use the job interview or the probationary employment period to weed out people who have a paternalistic or charitable orientation. Sometimes, though, these attitudes are not immediately apparent or are suppressed by employees who may be aware of the philosophical orientation of the center. As a board member, you should expect management and direct service staff to report to the board periodically, and you should be willing to put some hard questions to these staff members about the services that they provide, the manner in which services are provided, and the ways in which they find out if the person receiving the service was satisfied. This can be done through scheduled reports to the board by staff of various center programs. If you start hearing phrases like, "We found John an attendant," or, "We applied for Jane's benefits," rather than "We provided John with an attendant list and worked with him on how to hire and supervise an attendant," or, "We went through the benefit application process with Jane and reviewed her application with her," then you better suggest to the director that it is time to take a close look at staff performance and probably do some staff training on independent living philosophy and consumer empowerment. In summary, the commitment to the civil rights of persons with disabilities should be reflected in everything that the center does. You will not know if the commitment is there if you do not pay close attention and ask hard questions of other board members and center staff. If you are committed to Ahelping those less fortunate than yourself,@ then you do not belong on the board of an independent living center. If, however, you are committed to Aequal rights for all,@ then you bring the right orientation to the board of your center. Cross-disability Orientation of Independent Living Centers Independent living centers have been almost alone in their commitment to equal access for persons with any type of disability. Rather than focusing on a single disability, such as visual, orthopedic, hearing, or cognitive impairment, the independent living philosophy stresses that removal of barriers preventing full participation and promotion of equal access in all areas of life benefits persons with all types of disabilities (National Council on Disability, 1986, 1988). Independent living movement leaders have recognized that all people with disabilities, working together, can be much more effective in addressing issues of concern--whether those issues affect people with only one type of disability or people with all types of disabilities. As Nosek and her colleagues (1982) stated in the ILRU publication on the philosophical foundation for independent living: 'Thirty-five million disabled people plus their families, supporters, and service providers form one of America's largest and potentially most powerful shared interest groups.' The focus of the independent living movement is not on the type of disability that a person may have, but rather on assuring each person's rights of access and opportunity to live independently--regardless of type of disability. Meeting Cross-Disability Service Needs Not every independent living center needs to offer a full array of services to every person, regardless of disability, in order to be consistent with the cross-disability orientation of the movement. As several of the members of our study group emphasized, a strength of independent living centers has been that they are responsive to the needs of their communities, and that they typically seek to fill gaps not being filled by other groups or agencies in their communities. Efforts to be responsive to community needs result in variations in programs and services from center to center across the country. ln some centers, substantial services to persons with hearing impairment are being provided, while in other centers, persons with mental health problems are receiving comprehensive services. In other communities, centers are serving persons with other types of disabilities, depending upon identified needs and service demands of the community. Responding to Community Needs Your center should be communicating with persons with disabilities in your community through neighborhood meetings, through needs surveys, through discussions with leaders and constituents of other disability-related groups and service provision agencies, as well as through periodic review of service requests and accessibility complaints by consumers. The goal of these communications and reviews should be identification of the services and community action most needed in your community. Ultimately, it will be the board's responsibility to set policy and do annual and long-range service and community advocacy planning for the center, but having documentation of needs and preferences expressed by persons with disabilities in the community certainly puts the board on firm ground with respect to justifying board decisions regarding service programming and advocacy plans. Without such documentation, the board is always going to be vulnerable to accusations that it is unresponsive to community needs. The issues addressed and services provided by your center should be appropriate to the needs of your community and should take into account the expertise of your staff and other resources available in the community to address problems. No center can be all things to all people. However, you should be constantly on guard against tendencies to favor one disability group while excluding others. In many communities, independent living centers have been accused of serving only persons with orthopedic impairment. Oftentimes, however, these centers have been responding to community demands or unmet needs expressed by a particular group in the community. Conversely, other disability groups may have expressed satisfaction with the level of services available from more traditional service providers in the community and may have been less receptive to or not encouraged the center to initiate service or advocacy programs targeted to persons with certain types of disabilities. Given the small amount of funds typically available to operate centers, most centers have chosen, appropriately in our opinion and in the opinions of persons whom we interviewed, to provide services that are not available elsewhere in the community. The people in our study group expressed strongly, however, that every center should encourage and foster involvement of persons with all types of disabilities in center activities. Getting Community Feedback As a board member you should be constantly asking the question, "How will this issue or activity affect persons with other types of disabilities in the community?" For example, if you are advocating for wheelchair-accessible buses, you probably will want to consider contacting representatives of the community with hearing impairment to determine if there is a TTY/TDD in the transit authority information office so that persons with hearing impairment can obtain scheduling information. Or, if you are offering a class in how to prepare forms for requesting housing assistance, you will probably want to offer to provide readers for persons with visual impairments as well as sign language interpreters for persons with hearing impairments so people with these kinds of disabilities can participate actively in the class. Discrimination is discrimination, whether it is practiced by the transit company that will not let you on the bus, the employer who will not give you an opportunity to demonstrate that you can do the job, or the independent living center that neglects to address the problems of a part of the community that it serves. The people in our study group and those who have gone through our training programs clearly recognized the difficulties of trying to be all things to all people. They also stressed the importance of involving people with different types of disabilities in the decision-making process and activities of your center, and of maintaining lines of communication with other disability groups in your community. Independent living has become a strong movement in large part because of the numbers of people who have become involved in it. If it is to grow stronger at national, state, and local levels, it will need to continue to demonstrate a broad base of support from persons with all types of disabilities. It should be reemphasized here that it is the board's responsibility to make hard decisions concerning how to commit resources that are invariably far from adequate to meet the many service needs and to address the many accessibility problems experienced by people with disabilities in most communities. However, such decisions must be made and should be made with input from and consideration given to persons with all types of disabilities living in the community, not just persons representing one or two special interest groups. Perhaps the best way of getting substantive input from persons representing various disability groups in the community is to encourage representatives from various groups to serve on the center board and various board committees. Summary of Responsibilities in Adhering to the Independent Living Philosophy In summarizing this section, the commitment to the independent living philosophy distinguishes independent living centers from traditional social service agencies. We have all heard the griping and moaning about traditional service agency staff who think that they know best what the person getting services needs and proceed to tell that person what to do and how to do it. We are also well aware of the loss of dignity that people experience when required to submit to eligibility tests, diagnoses, and screenings to determine if they can get basic services and establish support systems that are necessary to allow them to be contributing members of the community. The reasons that negative experiences with social service agencies, whether public or private, are so common relates to the fact that most of these agencies were established as "welfare" or "charity" organizations that tend to view the people they serve as needy and incapable of making decisions about how to deal with the problems that they face. These agencies are also typically run by people who do not have disabilities; people who oftentimes have no sensitivity to the dignity-stripping experiences of diagnostic procedures and revelatory process of "needs testing" and meeting eligibility requirements, and who, in many cases, are more concerned with balancing the agency budget--often accomplished through denial of services to "ineligible" applicants--rather than through meeting service needs. Although independent living centers were created as alternatives to traditional, paternalistic service delivery agencies, they are not immune to a tendency to behave like those agencies. In our conversations with center directors and board presidents, we heard plenty of horror stories about incidents in which people coming into centers were treated just as they would be if they went to the local department of human services or social security office. We know of cases where people have been required by independent living centers to provide detailed information about their medical histories, financial conditions, and personal lives before they were provided services. We have been told by persons involved in ILRU's management training programs that they know of situations where this information has, at times, been used by staff in centers to make determinations about what is independence for consumers and to develop plans for achieving independence with little or no involvement on the part of consumers. This kind of behavior can happen in your center if you, as a responsible board member, do not make sure that it does not. You need to ask the question, "Is everything that our center does and lhe manner in which it does these things, geared toward empowering persons with disabilities and placing them in control of the decisions that affect their lives?" You should not expect staff to take responsibility for making sure that the independent living philosophy is operationalized in the center. Nor should you think that just because you have written politics and procedures that are intended to prevent paternalism in your center that it cannot occur. Members of our study group clearly affirmed that it is the board's responsibility to keep the center on track philosophically, and you can only do that if you know what is going on in the center. This requires that the board has frequent and appropriate contact with the executive director and key staff, and that people who are getting services from the center have opportunities-through need surveys, open board meetings, and other public forums--to provide information that members of the board can use in making service programming and advocacy plans for the center. The four characteristics that make centers unique from other community organizations also provide a basis for monitoring center activities. It is up to you to be sure that the evaluation systems that you have in place for your center examine these four areas: consumer control, individual and systems advocacy, acquisition and protection of civil rights, and cross-disability orientation. Everything that is done in the center--at all levels, from board to staff to volunteers, and in all areas, from service provision to fund raising to advocacy--should be considered with these four characteristics in mind. SECTION II Operational Responsibilities of Board Members The first question that was asked of executive directors and board presidents was, "In what areas do you most often perceive that board members are unclear about their roles and responsibilities?" Virtually all those interviewed said that many board members were unfamiliar with fundamental board responsibilities in operating nonprofit organizations and approaches for meeting those responsibilities. Based upon their responses, we went back to the management literature and reviewed board responsibilities for operating nonprofit organizations so that we could present a basic approach to board roles and responsibilities that can be used in any center. Some of the literature that we reviewed is listed in the Suggested Reading section of this publication; however, in the following section, the approach to fulfilling your board responsibilities represents our synthesis of different management techniques presented in the management literature which can be used to address issues identified by board presidents and center managers with whom we spoke. Responsibilities as a Trustee of Public Interest In order for board members to understand fully your role as a board member, it is necessary to start with a look at the nature of corporations, especially corporations that are granted tax exempt (i.e., nonprofit) status. Independent living centers are nonprofit corporations. All nonprofit corporations are created to carry on a wide range of activities. They are granted tax exempt status because they serve and benefit the public. In effect, all nonprofit corporations are owned by the public. Nonprofit corporations are governed by boards of directors. These exist to look after the interests of the owners of the corporations by overseeing corporation activities (Duca, 1986; Batavia, 1989). Since the owners are the public, the boards of directors of these organizations are trustees of the public interest. In the case of independent living centers, the public interest with which board members are entrusted is defined and specified in each center's mission statement or statement of purpose. This clearly states the benefit to the community for which the center, as a nonprofit corporation, was created. The mission or purpose statement gives reasons for the center's existence. A board member's fundamental responsibility, therefore, is to make sure that the mission of the center is fulfilled. It is extremely important to be clear on this point. Your responsibilities as a board member are ultimately based not on your obligation to your center, but on your obligation to the community which your center serves (Batavia 1989). You must act at all times in a manner that u ill maintain and improve your center's ability to carry out its mission in the community. In other words, you must act in the organization's best interest--which is to serve the community. This is no vague or insignificant responsibility. As a board member, you can be held legally accountable based on these principles. Legal Responsibilities: Criminal and Civil Accountability of Boards Board members of independent living centers can be held accountable under two areas of the law--criminal and civil. (For a detailed discussion of your responsibilities in this area, see the ILRU publication, The Legal Liability of Independent Living Centers written by Drew Batavia For information on insuring against liability risks, see the ILRU publication, Liability Insurance Coverage for Independent Living Centers written by Quentin Smith.) Your accountability under criminal law arises from actions that are in violation of laws or statutes. Examples of these types of actions range from blatantly criminal acts, such as embezzlement and assault, to less obvious but equally criminal acts, such as discrimination in personnel practices or failure to file appropriate tax documents. Violations of criminal law are punishable by fines and imprisonment. Accountability Under Civil Law Your accountability under civil law arises from actions that result in damage to persons or property. Examples of these types of actions range from failure to clean up a spill that results in a fall by a person visiting your center to bad advice from a counselor to a consumer that results in a malpractice suit. If your center is found under civil law to be responsible for damages to a person or property, the penalty is payment of money to the person who has suffered injury, damage, or loss. Your responsibility as a board member is to protect to the best of your abilities the center from liability under either criminal or civil law. In the case of criminal law, it can be simply stated that you must know pertinent laws and abide by them. In the case of civil law, the ways in which you protect the center are not so straightforward as with criminal law. It is not as simple as just refraining from breaking the law. People can file a civil lawsuit against your center for almost any reason. Someone may claim that the center's peer counselor gave financial advice that resulted in the loss of thousands of dollars, or a visitor to the center may claim that he fell because the center had a ramp that was not well lighted. You should be aware, also, that civil lawsuits can be brought against the center as a corporation and against individuals who serve as center staff and board members. In some states, laws have been passed to protect individuals serving on nonprofit boards by limiting payments to persons who win civil suits to the total assets of the corporation. In other words, members of the board cannot be forced to pay damages from their personal resources. It should be emphasized, however, that, even in states where such protective legislation has been passed, it does not protect board members from acts that they commit as individuals, but it protects them only in their roles as board members (Batavia, 1989). This means that if you, as a board member, slander someone in a public meeting, you can still be sued as an individual for committing a slanderous act that resulted in damage to someone. You will not be protected from liability simply because you are serving on the board of a nonprofit corporation. As we stated previously, almost anyone can be sued for almost anything. You may then ask the question, "How do we protect our center and ourselves from civil liability?" The answer lies in understanding how a determination of liability is made. When a judge or jury hears a case involving civil liability, it is the responsibility of the person bringing the suit to demonstrate that the center or its agents (i.e., board members, staff, volunteers, contractors) acted unreasonably or carelessly in some manner that resulted in injury. (Injury may be physical injury, injury to one's standing or reputation, or injury to one's property.) It is the responsibility of the center to demonstrate that it acted in a reasonable manner and exercised care in its operations. It is the side (i.e., plaintiff or defendant) which is most effective in demonstrating its case which will ultimately win the suit. Protecting Against Civil Suits The best protection against the risk of civil suits being filed against the center is simply to be an informed and diligent board member. What does this mean? It means that board members take an active role in insuring that written policies and procedures are in place to cover the full range of center activities, including board activities, staff activities, and volunteer activities. It means, further, that you periodically check to see that policies and procedures are being followed and that there is adequate documentation to show that policies and procedures have been followed The case for maintaining adequate documentation cannot be overstated. In a court of law, facts are sought. Facts are much more easily established through written official records than by hazy recollections. In fact, the absence of proper records indicates poor management and will weaken your defense in a lawsuit. For a more complete discussion of legal liability associated with operating centers and insurance available to protect from liability losses, see two publications in ILRU's STAYING ON TRACK series--The Legal Liability of Independent Living Centers by Drew Batavia and Liability Insurance Coverage for Independent Living Centers by Quentin Smith. In summary, your basic role as a board member of a center is to see that the center fulfills its mission to the community. In doing so, you must insure that all aspects of the center's operations are consistently carried out in accordance with written, well-established policies and procedures that safeguard and improve the well being of those served. In this regard, it is important to make sure that (1) the center is clearly telling the people it serves what they can and cannot expect and (2) the center is delivering on promises that it makes. This is not a passive responsibility. It requires your active involvement in policy development and oversight activities. If you are unable or unwilling to commit to this level of involvement, then you may want to reconsider whether you should be serving on the center board. Responsibilities for Oversight of Center Operations Now that you are aware of your responsibilities as a trustee of the public interest and know that you must exercise due care and diligence in overseeing the operations of the center, you may ask, "But what do I actually have to do?" Simply stated, there are two main areas that you must oversee--operations and finance. Not overseeing operations may result in a poor program that eventually finds itself in trouble. Not overseeing finance can, in a short span of time, destroy the center. These are not exaggerations meant for effect; they are facts. Many persons who serve on boards of organizations that receive funding from other agencies and foundations may mistakenly assume that these funding sources will evaluate program quality. Although this may be true in some cases, it happens all too ofLen that funding sources pay little attention to quality assessment and are much more concerned with monitoring how funds are spent. It is the board's responsibility to assure that the center develops as a truly effective, efficient organization that is meeting community needs. The board cannot delegate this responsibility to anyone else, be it funding agencies or the executive director and staff of the center (Duca, 1986). In order for the board to oversee operations adequately, it must see that the mission of the center is translated into concrete goals that are relevant, achievable, and measurable. What is implicit in this statement is that center operations should not be determined as a reaction to demands generated by external agencies, such as public granting agencies, private foundations, or corporate sponsors. Center operations should, instead, be guided by a carefully developed plan that proactively considers community needs, other available resources, and center capabilities to deliver effective services. A Three-Part Management Strategy An operational plan is the first component of a three-part management strategy that includes implementation and evaluation as the second and third parts. Each component of this strategy--planning, implementation, and evaluation--relies on information generated through the other two for it to be effective. There is no point in planning if you cannot implement. There is no point in implementing if you do not have an evaluation strategy to determine if you were successful. And, there is no point in evaluating if the information that you obtain does not help you to refine or to rethink your plan and the ways in which you implement your plan. This three-part approach can be applied at many levels in the organization. It can be used with long-range strategic activities; annual operational activities; project and committee activities; and individual board, staff, and volunteer work activities. While board members may not be heavily involved at all of these levels, they can insure that this strategy is used at every operational level in the center. To persons who are not experienced in program planning and operations, this three-part approach may seem intimidating, but it is, in fact, quite logical. The planning phase corresponds to the essential act of deciding what you want to do, why you want to do it, and how you will do it. The implementation phase is the actual doing of what you have planned. The evaluation phase is simply looking back at what you have done and determining if you accomplished what you set out to do. Viewed in this way, it is a commonsense approach to guiding center activities. Using this approach will increase the likelihood that you will achieve center goals, and that activities of the center are consistent with its stated mission. It also promotes use of limited resources in an efficient manner and demonstrates to the community that your center is managed professionally and effectively. Planning's Multiple Purposes Planning is a word that often either intimidates or fails to impress board members. Some of the reasons for this are that: --it is seen as something highly complicated and time consuming; --many community needs and their solutions may appear to be obvious and, therefore, do not require planning; and --history has shown that many centers have managed to get by with little or no planning. Each of the above points has some validity. However, planning need not be an overly complicated process. In fact, Steiner (1979) says that one of the characteristics of good planning is simplicity. However, planning should go well beyond simple identification of community needs; it should include formulation of strategies for meeting those needs. Many organizations will continue to "get by" without planning, but they will only Aget by" and nothing more. Good planning is at the heart of successful operations. It is the process of setting goals and objectives and developing strategies for achieving them. Your planning process allows you to assess community needs, to assign work responsibilities to address those needs, and to set timetables for completing work assignments. Planning answers five basic questions: What are we going to do? Why are we going to do it? How are we going to do it? Who is going to do it? When are we going to do it? The time and effort that is put into planning will vary considerably from center to center depending on: size of the community in which your center operates, size of your center, amount of funding that you have, range of services that you are offering, length of time that your center has been established, and the amount of planning that you have done previously. In general, it can be stated that larger centers that have been around for some time will most likely have more elaborate plans than smaller and newer centers; however, centers that have not previously put any effort into planning may need to spend more time in the initial planning process than do centers that have been at it for some time. Once you become familiar with the planning process and get comfortable with going through the steps, it is not that difficult to review and to update plans on a regular basis. There is literature available to guide persons through the planning process, and it is not our intent to provide detailed planning guidelines in this publication (see the Suggested Readings section for information of this nature). We do, however, urge you to think about the five questions posed earlier and to consider whether you can answer them for your center. If you cannot, you are probably doing an inadequate job of planning. Benefits of Planning A nice summary of the benefits of planning has been developed by Duca (1986). According to her, the benefits of planning are that it: --not only provides direction, but also keeps everyone going on the same track; -gives a framework for decision making and limits randomly made decisions; --clarifies the organization's mission, goals and objectives, programs and services; --forces communication; --enhances the consistency of present strategies and decisions with the changing (future) environment: --offers a more coordinated effort: -helps an organization become "proactive" rather than reactive; --maximizes the cost-effective allocation of limited resources; --emphasizes alternatives and tradeoffs; --is results oriented; --provides for evaluation measures through action-stated objectives; --is useful in fund raising because its various components can be included in proposals; and --helps attract community support--people respect an organization with a plan. We feel that the most important benefits of planning are: (1) persons who are involved in the process develop a sense of ownership for the plan and are much more likely to be enthusiastic about carrying out their parts of the work plan; (2) the plan provides you with a "yardstick" against which to measure center achievements; and (3) it is a powerful tool for obtaining the funds necessary to carry out work outlined in the plan. It shows potential funding sources how their money will be used and helps to assure them that the money spent will result in concrete benefits to the people and community that your center serves. Implementing Your Plan The major advantage of completing a plan is that it provides you with a guide to what you will be doing over a specified period of time. The role to be assumed by board members in this implementation phase will be specified in the plan. For some aspects of the plan, such as fundraising activities and advocacy activities, the board's role in implementation may be substantial, with specific tasks assigned to various board members or committees. For other parts of the plan, such as delivering peer counseling services or teaching independent living skills, the board's role in implementation will be largely one of oversight. One thing to remember with respect to implementation is that the work of the board should be evaluated as rigorously as the work of the staff (Duca, 1986). The implications of this are that the work carried out by both board and staff will be periodically reviewed and that persons will be held accountable for activities assigned to them. The key to implementation is to assign tasks to people who have the skills, resources, and time to get them done. If the board assigns fundraising tasks to a board member who has no experience in doing it, is provided no help from other board members or staff to get it done, and can only devote one or two days per month to it, you can pretty well expect failure. Be realistic in assigning tasks and make sure that support is available to get the job done. Do not set yourself or others up for failure, but also do not be afraid to take on tasks or assign tasks that may not have been attempted previously. As you gain board experience, you will be better able to gauge those tasks which board members are best equipped to handle, and task assignments will become easier. Documenting Activities A key aspect of implementation is documentation of activities and outcomes realized during this phase. Documentation must be an integral and ongoing part of your implementation strategy. Without documentation, you will be unable to evaluate what you have accomplished. Do not rely on recall or vague anecdotal information from board and staff on work done. Make sure that numbers and facts about activities carried out--whether relating to consumers served, advocacy activities conducted, funds raised, or whatever--are recorded and are available for use in evaluation. Also, wherever possible, make sure that data on quality is collected. Providing 100 units of service that did not satisfy the people served is not something to state with pride. If you are not asking the people you serve whether or not the service is valuable to them, then you are not doing your job. This kind of evaluative process must be built into the implementation phase, and you, as a board member, should ask to see the results of evaluations of work carried out by board members and by staff. One final word with respect to implementation: training. One benefit of serving on the board of a center should be the acquisition of new skills. All too often, centers only consider the training needs of staff and assume that board members are fully prepared to carry out their tasks. Persons serving on boards very often require some additional training in task areas assigned. As mentioned previously, it is important in making task assignments to match persons' areas of interest with tasks assigned and to be sure that all areas that need to be covered (e.g., fundraising, advocacy, public relations) are assigned to persons who are interested, willing, and either have or can acquire the skills to get the job done. Evaluating Progress The importance of evaluation has been alluded to in both of the previous sections; however, it is worth reemphasizing that evaluation is critical to the whole process of running a center. This is because without evaluation, there is no point in doing planning, and implementation becomes a series of random reactions to whatever is happening in the community from day to day. It is unlikely, in this situation, that your center will ever have a significant and enduring impact on the lives of people with disabilities in your community. If you have done a good job of planning and have clearly identified your goals and objectives outlined your strategies for achieving them, assigned responsibilities, and set timelines, it is fairly easy to go back and assess what you have accomplished. Evaluation activities must occur on a regular and frequent basis and cannot be left until the end of the year. If you do not evaluate progress regularly, it is possible that you will find yourself at the end of the year with tasks not nearly completed and no time to remedy the situation. You may actually find yourself in the very unpleasant position of having to return money to funding agencies because work that was supposed to be completed is unfinished. Through regular evaluations, you can determine if your plans continue to be relevant and on target. Plans, like most everything else, often require adjustments, but you will not know this if you are not evaluating progress continually. Do not hesitate to go back and refine your plan if your evaluation indicates that the original plan was not quite on target. Connecting the Three Parts After reading the previous paragraph, you are probably convinced that you are going to be spending most of your time evaluating what you have done. As we mentioned earlier, if you have done a good job in the planning phase and have been documenting what you are doing in the implementation phase, evaluation is very easily accomplished. Throughout the implementation phase, each person with assigned tasks should have been documenting activities as they are done, results realized from those activities, and problems that may have occurred. Evaluation is the compilation of information collected during the implementation phase, comparison of this information with goals and objectives contained in the plan, and development of recommendations for adjustments in the plan or in implementation that will yield better results. We have, by design, avoided making specific recommendations on how to evaluate your program. The reason for this is that your evaluation methods will be dictated by your plan. In this regard, your plan must contain measurable objectives. For example, if one objective is to implement a new program to provide peer counseling services to persons with hearing impairments, you can evaluate success in this area by determining if the program has been set up and is operating, documenting the numbers of persons who have obtained these services, and documenting consumer satisfaction with the services received. It is unlikely, however, that data in these areas will be collected if you have not indicated in your plan a date for starting the service, targeted specific numbers of people to be served, and specified that consumer satisfaction will be measured through some structured process. A final point must be made--evaluation is the key part of the process that ensures that your plan is actually used in the operations of the center. We have often talked with executive directors who say that their centers engage in planning and that they have completed plans in place, only to acknowledge that the plans are not actually used. Evaluation ensures that your plans will be more than just conversation pieces to pull out when a program auditor or funding agency representative comes to the center. In wrapping up this section on planning, implementing, and evaluating, we wish to reemphasize that the three activities arc interrelated--you need to do all three diligently in order for the process to work. Lcst you should think that we are just creating "busywork" for board members, however, we wish to point out that using this three-phase approach offers you, the board member, opportunity to demonstrate to yourself, to those whom the center serves, and to the larger community that what the center does is yielding real and positive results. Responsibilities for Oversight of Center Finances Improper or inattentive management of finances is devastating to a center. While improper management of operations can result in eventual disaster for your center, improper management of finances can be disastrous in a very short period of time. You, as a board member, cannot ignore or delegate responsibility for financial oversight. Financial oversight fulfills two functions. First, it is an internal management function. Second, it is an external compliance function. The function of internal management is simply determining how you will spend your money to achieve your goals, monitoring how that money is actually spent, and assessing the effectiveness of expenditures in achieving your goals. The function of external compliance refers to fulfilling requirements that are placed on the center by external funding sources as part of the conditions of grants, contracts, or other funding arrangements. Compliance with Internal Financial Requirements Financial management and oversight can be divided into three phases that correspond to the three phases involved in overseeing center operations--planning, implementing, and evaluating. These three phases are budgeting, accounting, and analyzing. Both parts of your management and oversight responsibilities--operational and financial--must be considered together. You cannot adequately address one side of this process without taking into account the other side. Operations require funding, and funding must be developed around a specific set of operations. 1. Preparing Budgets Budgeting corresponds to the planning phase in that it is the aspect of financial management in which you plan what to do with your money. A budget is simply a plan for receiving and spending money. It must relate directly to your operational plan. You cannot plan properly without knowing where the funds to cover costs of operations are coming from and without knowing how they will be spent over the course of the budget period. Not all members of the board will be equally involved in the budgeting process. Typically, budgeting is handled by the executive director working with the finance committee of the board. The composition of the finance committee varies from center to center, but it usually includes the board treasurer, board president, and perhaps one or two other board members who have expertise in financial management. The accountant/bookkeeper for the center may also provide staff support to the finance committee. If you are not a member of the finance committee, you probably will not have direct involvement in budget development, but you will be required to review and approve budgets for all aspects of center operations. Once budgets have been approved by the board, the board assumes responsibility for proper management of them. This is no small responsibility. As a board member with responsibility for reviewing budgets, there are at least three questions that you should be asking of the finance committee and executive director of the center. These are: --Does the budget for the center correspond to the operational plan for the center? --Are the figures projected in the budget for income and expenses reasonable and realistic? --How were projections for income and expenses determined? Depending upon the type of budget that is presented (i.e., is it the total center budget or is it the budget for some project?) you may also want to ask a fourth question: --How will this budget affect other budgets that are in place for the center? This last question is one that board members often forget to ask. You should be aware that many times when new budgets are developed, staffing changes may occur, supply demands may change, and other aspects of center operations may be altered. These changes may require that you modify existing budgets. Do not be afraid to ask how new project budgets will influence existing budgets of the center. It is important that these questions be asked each time a budget comes before the board for review. Remember that the board has legal responsibility for financial management activities of the center and that you cannot make informed decisions without adequate information. 2. Accounting for Funds Accounting is simply the process of recording the flow of money into and out of the center as budgets are implemented. Unfortunately, the recording process is anything but simple. The recording process is the responsibility of a staff accountant/bookkeeper or outside accounting firm that handles your books. However, it is your responsibility as a board member to be sure that the information recorded is meaningful and accurate. One thing to remember is that the saying used in the computer world applies to the accounting process as well: "garbage in--garbage out!" If the information put into your accounting system is inaccurate--or worse, fraudulent--the information that you receive (i.e., financial statements) will look fine but will not reflect where money was actually received or spent. The problems resulting from this should be obvious. The board will be forced to make budget decisions without having accurate information. In order to be sure that accurate, complete, and meaningful information is being supplied, you must use the expertise of a qualified accountant-there is no substitute For centers that do not have adequate funds to pay for a staff accountant or to secure the services of an outside accountant on a regular basis, there are some other options. We strongly suggest that you recruit someone with an accounting background to serve on the board as treasurer or as a member of the finance committee. If you do not have a qualified accountant serving on the board, other options for obtaining accountant services at little or no cost include the local United Way, a local support center, or retired senior volunteer program. Be creative in thinking about community resources that are available to help you obtain these kinds of services. It is in the best interests of your center to have a treasurer and/or finance committee with the in-depth technical expertise to work with individuals within the center who are responsible for receiving, spending, and accounting for funds. These board members with financial management experience must also work with outside experts who are paid to verify the accuracy and adequacy of records and financial statements. This does not, however, let you off the hook. You, as a board member, are still responsible for the handling of funds received by your organization. lf legal action is taken against the center because funds were mishandled, pleading ignorance will not be an adequate defense. 3. Analyzing Financial Information The process of analysis can be divided into: three parts--financial analysis, budget analysis, and cost analysis. Financial analysis. This refers to the basic responsibility of being able to read the financial statements of your center. These statements are designed to provide you with a clear and accurate picture of the financial status of your center at a given time. Financial statements usually consist of two parts, balance sheets and income-and expense statements. The balance sheet provides information about the basic financial stability of your organization. lt does this by showing your assets (the center's cash, money owed the center, and property) and by showing your liabilities (debts). By comparing assets to liabilities, you can tell if the center is solvent (that is, it has more assets than liabilities), and you can determine whether or not some type of corrective action should be taken. The other part of the financial statement, the income-and-expense statement, tells you how much money has been received and from what sources; it also tells you how much money has been spent and how it was spent. This is a simplified explanation of these two parts of the financial statement. If at this time you do not understand what these documents are and how the information in them should be used, it is absolutely imperative that you find out. Demand that training be provided in this area. It is your responsibility to monitor finances of the center, and you cannot do so if you do not have an adequate understanding of information that is provided to you. Training on reading and understanding financial statements can usually be obtained through your local United Way or another similar service agency. There are no acceptable excuses for not being informed in this area. Budget Analysis. Once you are able to read financial statements, budget analysis is actually not all that difficult. It is the process of comparing actual income and expenses to the figures that were projected in the budget prepared for the center or project. It is important to do this analysis for these reasons. First, it tells you whether or not you are on track with respect to income and expenses. Is the money that you thought you would be generating coming in? Are you incurring the costs that you thought you would have when planning the program? With this information you will be able to determine if your budget needs to be adjusted. Second, budget analysis will alert you to potential problem areas before they become crisis situations that are threatening to the center. As an example, if you have a budget of $20,000 to do a one-year project, and you find that you are spending money on the project at the rate of $4,000 per month, then you know that you will not have enough funds to carry the project through the year. If you determine this during the first or second month of the project, you may be able to adjust your expenditures so that money will be available for the remainder of the project year. If you do not find out about this until month six or seven, however, you may find that you have used up all of the project funds, and may, in fact, have overspent. This can produce major problems--particularly if you have staff who are being paid out of these funds. It is important that you realize that budget analysis is as important to financial management and oversight as evaluation is to operational management and oversight. Both tell you how actual performance compares to what you thought your performance would be. Cost Analysis. The third analysis that you should know of is cost analysis. After funds are spent, it is important to take a look at what you got for your money. The only reason money is spent is to get things done. You need to know how much got done for the money you spent. If you have an attendant placement program, and you find that each placement is costing $2,500, then you might ask your executive director to see if there are any problems with this program or if it should be changed to be more efficient. Remember, as a public trustee, you must see that the funds of the center are used efficiently and are not wasted. Cost analysis can be a complex process or as simple as taking the amount of money you spent on a program in a year and dividing it by the number of people who were served in that year to find out what it costs to serve each person in that program. This kind of information can be extremely powerful in justifying and seeking funds for services. It can also point out areas that need improvement or modification. As with budget development, most of the work should be done by those with expertise; but you, as a board member, should make sure that it is being done, and you should take time to review and to understand the results. Compliance with External Financial Requirements As stated earlier, external compliance refers to making sure that you follow and fulfill requirements placed on your center by agencies and other organizations as part of the conditions of receiving money from them. These requirements can vary dramatically from one source of funds to another. Therefore, you must make sure that your center staff and appropriate board members know and fulfill these requirements. Funding sources will usually specify how you document and report the receiving and spending of the money. They will also specify any restrictions or limitations on how the money is spent. Mishandling of funds, whether through inadequate documentation and reporting or through violation of restrictions and limitations, can cause serious problems. Keeping adequate records and preparing financial reports seem, at first glance, to be relatively uncomplicated tasks; unfortunately, this is not so in reality. It seems that sometimes adequate or accurate records are not kept that will satisfy funding sources, or records are not kept in a form that allows you to give a funding source the information that it requires. Both of these are very important, and, as we stressed earlier, someone with appropriate technical expertise must be in charge of the accounting phase and must make sure that your financial records are satisfactory and useable not only to the board but to your funding sources. You need to be able to document clearly that personnel were paid and fringe benefits provided, that supplies were purchased and that other expenses such as telephone costs, postage, and office rent were incurred. You must also be able to report this information to your funding sources in a form that is acceptable to them. Binding Budgets The second area in which funding sources may impose restrictions pertains to what are called binding budgets. A budget is binding when your center has agreed to spend the funds provided by a funding source strictly according to an agreed-upon budget. Chances are very good that your center operates under more than one budget. Some of these budgets may be binding while others are not. It is very important to know which are binding and which are not If a budget is binding, it sets not only the total limit of money that can be spent, but also the limit of money that can be spent in each budget category. This means that you must watch how much is being spent in each category of the budget (i.e., salaries, fringe benefits, travel, supplies, equipment, interpreters). For example, suppose that your center is awarded a grant of $200,000 to conduct a project in which $90,000 is budgeted for salaries, and you spend $100,000 for salaries. The funding source may ask for $10,000 back, even though the money is already spent, was spent on the project, and the $200,000 project budget was not exceeded. The key to avoiding such problems is to be sure that the funding source is contacted to ask that the budget be changed before you exceed any binding budget limits. Disallowed Spending A second aspect of binding budgets is that they usually prohibit certain kinds of expenditures commonly called "disallowed spending." This means that your funding source will not allow its funds to be spent on certain things even if those things seem to be part of a budget category. One common example of disallowed spending is the purchase of food and drink using funds from a federal grant or contract. In this example, you may have a federal grant of $50,000 to do outreach into the community, and $25,000 is budgeted for the cost of outreach activities (the remainder budgeted for personnel salaries and fringe benefits). Your center decides that parties are the most effective way to attract people, so you spend the budgeted $25,000 on "social gatherings." Of the $25,000 spent, $15,000 is spent on food and drink for the social gatherings--which, by the way, are a huge success. When the grant is audited, the funding source will quite likely want the $15,000 that was spent on food and drink back, even though the budget category and total was not exceeded, because food and drink spending is disallowed. The problems that arise from binding budgets are usually quite troublesome. For instance, your customary annual audit will not uncover problems in this area, nor will the monitoring activities of the funding agency during the period of the grant. Problems in overspending categories and disallowed spending will usually surface months or years after they happen, when an audit is conducted by the funding agency. By then, the money is long spent, and funds that must be paid back must come from, unrestricted funds or reserve funds, both of which are usually meager, if available at all. Another problem is that there are no simple rules governing overspending categories and disallowed spending. The guidelines can be quite complicated and are often buried in numerous publications. They can also change dramatically from one funding source to another. The guidelines used by a city can be totally different than those used by federal or state governments. Board Responsibilities in Budget Oversight We can hear you saying right about now, AIf this is so, then how the #*!!*# am I supposed to know these rules?" Well, it is not necessary that you know all the rules, but you better make sure that someone with the center does! Too often, not even the treasurer knows how many binding budgets there are for different center programs and projects. It is assumed that the executive director or staff accountant/bookkeeper knows these rules. Hopefully they do, but have you ever asked? The total budget of your center will almost certainly be made up of both binding and nonbinding budgets, so taking a look at how you are doing throughout the year by comparing total income and expenses to the total budget is not really going to alert you to problems within specific program br project budgets. It is, therefore, essential that the center has a treasurer or finance committee who understands all the budgets and can watch them carefully. You, as a board member, should be aware of these budgets, and review periodic reports on their status. As a final note on the topic of financial management, we would like to offer one observation by O'Connell (1985): "Deficits are hell!" Summary of Operational Responsibilities In summarizing this section, the following points should be made: As a board member of your center, you are a trustee of the public interest on behalf of the community, which is the ultimate owner of public (nonprofit) corporations operating within the community. As a public trustee, you must see that the center fulfills its mission to the community--which is its reason for existing. By becoming a board member you have agreed to be legally and morally accountable for what the center does. In order to insure that the center fulfills its obligation to the community, you must oversee center activities. This means that you must exercise due care and diligence in your oversight. Oversight responsibilities are in two areas: operations arid finance. Both are overseen using the planning, implementation, and evaluation cycle; however, for finance, the cycle is called budgeting, accounting, and analysis. These two cycles must happen concurrently. If the board and executive director do their jobs well, everyone knows what is going to get done, who will do it, and when it will be accomplished. Everyone will also know that adequate funds will be available to carry out plans and that the center will be able to continue its good work. CLOSING OBSERVATIONS In the two sections of this monograph--the board member's role in operationalizing the independent living philosophy and the board member's role in center management--we have identified an intimidating amount of work for board members. Although we do not want to downplay the amount of work involved in being a good board member, it is a job that can be done and can bring a lot of rewards. One critical aspect of keeping the work of being a board member manageable involves keeping board roles and responsibilities separate from staff roles and responsibilities. We have heard from our study group, as well as from directors and program managers who participated in our management training program, that one of the single greatest sources of problems in centers is confusion about the responsibilities of the board versus the responsibilities of the staff and subsequent inappropriate board/staff actions and interactions. Although we have indicated that your principal responsibility as a board member is one of oversight, there are many areas in which you as a board member will have specific tasks to accomplish, such as in the areas of fund raising, advocacy, and community relations. Oftentimes, you may find yourself working closely with staff of the center. These close working relationships open the door for problems to occur if roles and responsibilities have not been clearly defined and lines of communication are not well understood and maintained. These kinds of problems occur when, for example, a board member and staff member serve on the same committee. During the course of their meetings, the conversation may turn to discussions of how well the executive director handles personnel problems. If the board member does not nip this in the bud, this kind of inappropriate interaction can cause major problems. As a board member, you need to be ready to say, "This is not the time and place to discuss that matter.@ The best way to avoid blurring of roles and inappropriate communication between board and staff is to have clear policies and procedures that indicate who is responsible for what, to adhere to those policies and procedures. and to examine on a regular basis what you are doing and how it relates to your annual and long-range plans and, most importantly, to the overall mission of your center. If this looks familiar, it should--we are back to planning, implementing, and evaluating again. We feel very strongly that the concepts and approaches outlined in this monograph will give you a sound foundation on which to build your individual skills and fulfill your board responsibilities in a manner that results in a center that is truly responsive to individual and community needs. By no means should your orientation and training as a board member end with the information in this monograph. There is a great deal to learn about running effective meetings, being a productive committee member, understanding financial management, and evaluating programs that is not covered in this monograph. We have found that people who become effective board members approach developing these skills in the same ways that you would approach your operational responsibilities as a board member--they set goals for skills they want to acquire, they plan how they will acquire them, they follow through with their plans, and they look back at what they did to see if they accomplished their goals. There are some excellent resources available that will help you to develop skills in these areas. Some of these resources are identified in the appendix to this monograph. We have talked a great deal about all of the work that you will have to do and have only briely mentioned the rewards that you will receive for your work as a board member. For people who make the effort, there are numerous rewards associated with being a center board member. These include acquiring or improving skills in areas such as planning, communication, finance, and problem solving; making contacts with people in the business community, in government, and in other fields; establishing or expanding your network of friends and acquaintances who share your commitment and interests; gaining recognition for your work with the center; and, most importantly, seeing your efforts result in actual improvements in your community that make it a better place to live for everyone. The information presented in this monograph represents the thoughts and observations of many people in the field of independent living who have to deal with these issues on a day-today basis. Much of what is presented, particularly in the section on operationalizing the independent living philosophy, is not based upon statistical data or scientific study, but is based upon adherence and commitment to the philosophy of independent living. We want to restate that this monograph is intended to be but one step in a process that will result in your being a more motivated and effective board member. The independent living movement needs people who are both committed to the philosophy and have the knowledge and skills to guide centers and to carry the movement forward. Although this is a national movement, what happens in your community is as important in advancing the rights and opportunities of people with disabilities as what happens in Washington, D.C. You have an opportunity to make a difference in the quality of people's lives. To borrow a phrase from Nike--Just do it! REFERENCES Batavia, Andrew. The Legal Liability of Independent Living Centers. In Richards, Laurel and Smith, Quentin (Eds.), Staying on Track: ILRU Management Support Series. Houston: ILRU, 1989. Bowe, Frank and Williarns, John. Planning Effective Advocacy Programs. Washington, D.C.: The American Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities, Inc., 1979. Cole, Jean A. What's New About Independent Living? Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 60(10), 1979. Corthell, David W. and Van Boskirk, Charles. Client Involvement: Partnerships in the Vocational Rehabilitation Process. Tampa: Fifteenth Institute on Rehabilitation Issues. 1988 Curtis, Bruce. How to Set Up an Independent Living Program: Twenty-seven Questions and Answers. Houston: ILRU, 1980. Dart, Justin. Address at the National Conference on Independent Living Washington, D.C, 1987. DeJong, Gerben. Environmental Accessibility and Independent Living Outcomes: Directions for Disability Policy and Research. East Lansing, Mich.: University Center for International Rehabilitation, Michigan State University, 1981. Duca, Diane J. Nonprofit Boards: A Practical Guide to Roles Responsibilities and Performance. Phoenix: Oryx Press, 1986. Frieden, Lex. Keynote presentation at the 40th Annual Meeting of the President's Committee on Employment of the Handicapped. Denver. April 15, 1987. Gliedman, John and Roth, William. The Unexpected Minority: Handicapped Children In America New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980. Hooper, Ed. A Bed Society Has Made for Us AL. Disability Rag. July/August 1987. Kailes, June Isaacson. Putting Advocacy Rhetoric into Practice: The Role of the Independent Living Center. Houston: ILRU, 1988. McConnel, L. Robert. Excerpts of reviews and comments on Berkowitz, Edward D., Social Influences on Rehabilitation Planning. In Perlman, Leonard G. and Austin, Gary F. (Eds.), Social Influences in Rehabilitation Planning Blueprint for the 21st Century. Alexandria, Va.: National Rehabilitation Association, 1985. National Council on the Handicapped (now National Council on Disability). On the Threshold of Independence: A Report to the President and to the Congress of the United States. Washington, D.C.: National Council on the Handicapped, 1988. National Council on the Handicapped (now National Council on Disability). Toward Independence: An Assessment of Federal Laws and Programs Affecting Persons with Disabilities-With Legislative Recommendations. Washington, D.C: National Council on the Handicapped, 1986. Nosek, Margaret A. and Richards, Laurel. Independent Living Networks: Development of a New Dimension in Advocacy, Occasional Paper No.3. Houston: ILRU, 1987. Nosek, Peg and Smith, Quentin. On the Right Track. Foundations for Operating an Independent Living Program. Richards, Laurel (Ed.). Houston: ILRU. 1982 O'Connell, Brian. The Board Member's Book: Making a Difference in Voluntary Organizations. New York: The Foundation Center, 1985. Roberts, Edward V. Foreword to Pflueger, Susan. Independent Living Emerging Issues in Rehabilitation. Washington, D.C.: Institute for Research Utilization, 1977. Roth, William. The Politics of Disability Future Trends as Shaped by Current Realities. In Perlrnan, Leonard G. and Austin, Gary F. (Eds.). Social Influences in Rehabilitation Planning Blueprint for the 21st Century. Alexandria, Va.: National Rehabilitation Association, 1985. Smith, Quentin. Legal Liability Coverage for Independent Living Centers. In Richards, Laurel and Smith, Quentin (Eds.), Staying on Track: ILRU Management Support Series. Houston: ILRU, 1989. Steiner, George. Strategic Planning. New York: Free Press, 1979. ten Broek, Jacobus. The Right to Live in the World: The Disabled in the Law of Torts, 54, California Law Review, 841, 842, 1966. United Way of America. The Citizen Board in Voluntary Agencies. Cranford, N. J.: Didactics Systems, Inc., 1979. Wolfensberger, W. The Third Stage in the Evolution of Voluntary Organizations. Toronto: National Institute on Mental Retardation, 1973. SUGGESTED READINGS Boards and Board Functions Conrad, William R. and Glenn, William R. The Effective Voluntary Board of Directors: What It Is and How It Works. Chicago: The Swallow Press, 1976. Duca, Diane J. Nonprofit Boards: A Practical Guide to Roles Responsibilities and Performance. Phoenx: Oryx Press, 1986. Hardy, James M. Developing Dynamic Boards: A Proactive Approach to Building Nonprofit Boards of Directors. Erwin, Tenn.: Essex Press, 1990. Houle, Cyril O. Governing Boards: Their Nature and Nurture. Washington, D.C.: National Center for Nonprofit Boards and San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc., 1989. Nosek, Peg and Smith, Quentin. On the Right Track. Foundations for Operating all Independent Living Program. Richards, Laurel (Ed.) Houston: ILRU, 1982. O'Connell, Brian. The Board Member's Book Washington, D.C.: The Foundation Center, 1985. O'Connell, Brian. Nonprofit Management Support Series. Washington, D.C.: Independent Sector, 1988. This nine-book series includes: No. 1: The Role of The Board and Board Members No. 2: Funding, Developing, and Rewarding Good Board Members No.3: Operating Effective Committees No.4: Conducting Good Meetings No.5: The Roles and Relationships of the Chief Volunteer and Chief Staff Officers, Board and Staff: Who Does What? No.6: Recruiting, Encouraging, and Evaluating the Chief Staff Officer No. 7: Fund Raising No. 9: Evaluating Results Smith, Quentin and Richards, Laurel. Board Effectiveness in Independent Living Centers. In Richards, Laurel and Smith, Quentin (Eds.) Staying on Track: ILRU Management Support Series. Houston: ILRU, 1987. Trost, Arty and Rauner, Judy. Gaining Momentum for Board Action. San Diego: Marlborough Publications, 1983. Waldo, Charles N. Not-for-Profit Compared to For-Profit Boards. In Boards of Directors: Their Challenging Roles, Structure, and Information Needs. Westport, Conn.: Quoram Books, 1985. Wolf, Thomas. The Nonprofit Organization: An Operating Manual. Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1984. Legal Responsibilities and Legal Liability of Boards Batavia, Andrew I. The Legal Liability of Independent Living Centers. In Richards, Laurel and Smith, Quentin (Eds.) Staying On Track: ILRU Management Support Series. Houston: ILRU, 1989. Lane, Marc J. Legal Handbook for Nonprofit Organizations. New York: ANACOM, 1980. Oleck, Howard L. Non-Profit Corporations Organizations and Associations. Clifton, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1980. Olenick, Arnold J. and Olenick. Philip R. Making the Non-Profit Organization Work: A Financial Legal and Tax Guide for Administrators. Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Institute for Business Planning, 1983. Smith, Quentin. Liability Insurance for Independent Living Centers. In Richards, Laurel and Smith, Quentin (Eds.) Staying on Track: ILRU Management Support Series. Houston: ILRU, 1989. Fiscal Management Information for Board Members Bank of America. Small Business Reporter Understanding Financial Statements. San Francisco: Bank of America, 1980. Bank of America. Small Business Reporter: Cash Flow/Cash Management. San Francisco: Bank of America, 1984. O'Connell, Brian. Nonprofit Management Support Series. No.8: Budgeting and Financial Accountability. Washington, D.C.: Independent Sector, 1988. Independent Living Philosophy and Civil Rights DeJong, Gerben. Environmental Accessibility and Independent Living Outcomes: Directions for Disability Policy and Research. East Lansing, Mich.: University Center for International Rehabilitation, Michigan State University, 1981. Gliedman, John and Roth, Williarn. The Unexpected Minority: Handicapped Children in America. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980. Kailes, June Isaacson. Putting Advocacy Rhetoric into Practice: The Role of the Independent Living Center. Houston: ILRU, 1988. National Council on the Handicapped (now National Council on Disability). Toward Independence: An Assessment of Federal Laws and Programs Affecting Persons with Disabilities--With Legislative Recommendations. Washington, D.C.: National Council on the Handicapped, 1986. National Council on the Handicapped (now National Council on Disability). On The Threshold of Independence: A Report to the President and to the Congress of the United States. Washington, D.C.: National Council on the Handicapped, 1988. Nosek, Peg; Narita, Yayoi; Dart, Yoshiko; and Dart, Justin. A Philosophical Foundation for the Independent Living and Disability Rights Movements. Houston: ILRU, 1982. Nosek, Margaret A. and Richards, Laurel. Independent Living Networks: Development of a New Dimension in Advocacy. Houston: ILRU, 198 7. Pflueger, Susan with foreword by Roberts, Edward V. Independent Living: Emerging Issues in Rehabilitation. Washington, D.C.: Institute for Research Utilization, 1977. Richards, Laurel and Smith, Quentin. An Orientation to Independent Living Centers (informational brochure). Houston: ILRU, 1987. ABOUT THE AUTHORS ALAN MEYER has over ten years experience in the field of independent living. He has served as the executive director of the Houston Center for Independent Living, the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, and a consumer controlled organization providing personal assistance services. He most recently served as the first director of the Office on Services to Persons with Disabilities within the Texas Department of Human Services. During his tenure, the board of directors of the agency which administers the state's personal care and nursing home programs, adopted a position statement which specifically commits the agency to the development of expanded community-based rather than institutional services for people with disabilities. Meyer has been extensively involved in the ILRU management training program as a member of the training team and has worked with Cornell University in its management training program. He is currently a freelance consultant and trainer in independent living. QUENTIN SMITH is a staff associate with ILRU. He was one of the developers of ILRU's long-term management training programs for management staff of independent living centers, and he continues to serve as co-director of management training programs at ILRU. In addition to having served as executive director of the Houston Center for Independent Living, Smith has worked in a variety of management positions in health care and academic settings over a twenty-year period. He holds a graduate degree in health care administration from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and did additional graduate work in management at Texas A&M University. Smith has authored or co-authored numerous articles, monographs, and book chapters dealing with management issues, including the publication On the Right Track co-authored with Peg Nosek, which was the starting point of ILRU's Staying on Track series on management issues in independent living. ABOUT ILRU ILRU (Independent Living Research Utilization) was established in 1977 to serve as a national center for information, training, research, and technical assistance for independent living. In the mid-1980's, it began conducting management training programs for executive directors and middle managers of independent living centers in the U.S. Since 1985, it has operated the ILRU Research and Training Center on Independent Living at TIRR, through which is conducted a comprehensive and coordinated set of research, training, and technical assistance projects focusing on leading issues facing the independent living field. ILRU has developed an extensive set of resource materials on various aspects of independent living, including a comprehensive directory of programs providing independent living services in the U. S. and Canada. For more information, contact ILRU; 2323 S. Shepherd, Suite 1000; Houston, Texas 77019; (713) 520-0232, 520-5136 (TDD).
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