How you can secure a seat on a Massachusetts board or commission: Takeaways from our Cafecitos event

Cafecitos (3)

On July 20, 2020, YW Boston partnered with Amplify Latinx on their virtual Cafecitos event series to present “Securing a Seat on MA Public Boards and Commissions.” This webinar conversation focused on why it is crucial to diversify Massachusetts’ public boards and commissions, and offered guidance to those considering joining one. Beth Chandler, YW Boston’s President and CEO, served as a panelist alongside Pamela Lomax, the state Auditor’s Administration and Finance Deputy, and Eneida Roman, a Co-Founder of Amplify Latinx and 2017 LeadBoston graduate. Rosario Ubiera-Minaya, Executive Director of Amplify Latinx, moderated the discussion. YW Boston leads the Parity on Board Coalition, which is committed to diversifying Massachusetts public boards and commissions, and which Amplify Latinx is a member.

Public boards and commissions are governmental bodies designed to work with state agencies to give a voice to citizens. These boards allow citizens to be actively involved in their government and offer opportunities to influence decisions that affect the quality of life of Massachusetts residents.

As Beth Chandler described during the event, “Better decisions are made when there is more diversity at the table. There are over 700 boards and commissions in Massachusetts…It is important for there to be different lived experiences and perspectives, so that we know they are getting the best decisions for the Commonwealth.” More equitable decision-making is vital given that Massachusetts’ public boards and commissions have a significant impact on all areas of our lives. As our state navigates the two most pressing public crises of 2020, COVID-19 and systemic racism, it is crucial that our leaders have a deep understanding of existing disparities and potential risks for groups historically impacted by systemic inequities.

However, currently in Massachusetts, women comprise only 39% of board members and 34% of board chairs on the state’s 50 most prominent public boards and commissions, with only women of color comprising only 6% of board chair roles. To change these numbers, and more effectively advocate on behalf of Massachusetts’ diverse population, we need women, people of color, and women of color to answer the call to board leadership. Find resources and learn more about how to go about securing a seat on a Massachusetts board or commission, below.

Our takeaways from the “Securing a Seat on MA Public Boards and Commissions” event

1. Make your resume match the position you are applying for.

As Pamela Lomax explained during the event, open positions on a board or commission are often posted with information about who they may see as an ideal candidate. On many of these boards and commissions, there are even seats designated for people of certain skills sets. So, you want to be aware of these requirements when you begin applying. Eneida Roman recommends you “match your skills to your interests.” As she explains, “See this as a job application. See that your resume matches the skills they are looking for,” by specifically seeking out the skills necessary and highlighting them in your application.

Serving on a public board or commission is also an excellent way to build your resume. As Eneida Roman spoke of, one role may help you gain the skills needed to secure other, larger board and commission positions down the line. Beth Chandler highlighted the strength of the relationships one can make on these boards and commissions, which can specifically benefit women of color who have not historically had access to these networks.

2. Create relationships with your state Representative, your state Senator, and other state leaders.

As Beth Chandler stated, all prospective appointees should become familiar with who is the appointing authority to the boards and commissions. Then, it is about figuring out how to get “your name, your resume, to people already on the board or commission, or to people who are appointing authorities, so they will know what you have to contribute.”

Pamela Lomax expanded on Beth’s point, stating that “the legislature not only has a role in appointing various seats, but they are a resource for other appointing entities. So, if people are interested in a particular board or commission, make sure that the legislative committee that oversees that commission knows who you are. Make sure your own representative or state senator knows who you are and about your interest in that area.” As she explained, appointing entities often reach out to various groups, such as legislators, organizations, and advocates, for recommendations of who to appoint. To be on their radar, create relationships with those leading the field you are interested in.

3. Choose a public board or commission you are passionate about.

As Eneida Roman stated, she sees holding a position on a public board or commission as a service, explaining that they are “designed to give a voice to the people.” She sees stepping into these roles, and having an influence on state policy, as a civic duty.

As stated above, many positions are held for people with specific skills sets. However, many board and commission positions provide more of an entryway for more generally interested applicants. For example, Pamela Lomax stated that many “have memberships spots for consumers of a particular service,” such as salon services. She recommended this as a great entryway for people who are interested in these topics, but may not have much experience, yet.

Watch the full virtual event below, via AmplifyLatinx’s Facebook.

Learn more from our toolkit, “How to join a public board or commission”

Click here to access our toolkit for candidates interested in joining a public board or commission in Massachusetts.

Submit your interest and find open positions

The Parity on Board Coalition is committed to diversifying Massachusetts public boards and commissions. While its primary focus is to advocate in favor of H. 4153, An Act to ensure gender parity and racial and ethnic diversity on public boards and commissions, it has also begun gathering the information of individuals interested in serving on public boards and commissions. To add your name to the list of potential candidates, please complete this short form. Information collected by the Parity on Board Coalition will be shared with appointing authorities within Massachusetts.

Visit the state Boards and Commissions website to learn more about positions available through the Governor’s office as well as the responsibilities of each role. On this website, you can search by policy area, board or commission name, view current openings, and apply to join. If you would prefer not to specify a board or commission when you apply, you can submit a general application to be considered for open positions. To apply for a board or position though the Attorney General’s office you can submit an application directly to their office. To apply for an open position through the state Treasurer or Auditor’s office you can visit their websites for available updates.

While the list of open positions on Massachusetts’s boards and commissions changes often, we would like to share a list of open positions we know about. The State Auditor’s office and the Governor’s office both shared the list of open positions they will be appointing. Please see the information these offices have shared below. Note: This information is accurate as of July 2020.


Auditor-Appointed Positions

Board/Commission

Number of appointments

Next vacancy

Length of term

Asian American Commission

3

12/31/2020

3 years

Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA) Oversight Council

2

9/30/2020

5 years

Department of Developmental Services Self-Determination Advisory Board

1

12/31/2020

3 years

Health Policy Commission

3

12/31/2020

5 years

Inspector General Council

1

12/31/2021

3 years

Personal Care Attendant (PCA) Workforce Council

3

12/6/2022

3 years

Public Employees Retirement Administration Commission (PERAC)

2

11/7/2020

5 years

 

More information on these positions below:

Asian American Commission
MGL Part I, Title I, Chapter 3, Section 68:

There shall be a permanent commission on the status of citizens of Asian descent to consist of 21 persons as follows:…and 3 persons appointed by the state auditor. Members of the commission shall be citizens of the commonwealth who have demonstrated a commitment to the Asian-American community.

Members shall serve for terms of 3 years and until their successors are appointed. Vacancies in the membership of the commission shall be filled by the original appointing authority for the balance of the unexpired term. All appointments shall be made in consultation with Asian-American organizations. Nominations for members shall be solicited by the appointing authorities between August 1 and September 16 of each year through an open application process using a uniform application that is widely distributed throughout the state.

CHIA Oversight Council
MGL Part I, Title II, Chapter 12C, Section 2A:

There shall be a health information and analysis oversight council which shall oversee the center; provided, however, that the council shall not oversee the Betsy Lehman center for patient safety and medical error reduction established in section 15. The council shall consist of:…2 members who shall be appointed by the state auditor, 1 of whom shall be a health care economist;…Appointments shall be made without regard to political affiliation. Members of the council shall serve for terms of 5 years. In the case of a vacancy, a successor shall be appointed for the remainder of the unexpired term in the same manner as the original appointment. Members of the council shall be eligible for reappointment. Members of the council shall not be employed by, a consultant to, a member of the board of directors of, affiliated with, have a financial stake in or otherwise be a representative of: (i) an acute hospital; (ii) an ambulatory surgical center; or (iii) a surcharge payor. Members of the council shall be residents of the commonwealth.

DDS Self Determination Advisory Board
MGL Part I, Title II, Chapter 19B, Section 19:

The department shall establish a statewide self-determination advisory board to advise the department on efforts to implement, publicize, evaluate, improve and develop information regarding self-determination. The advisory board shall consist of:…1 individual appointed by the office of the state auditor. Members shall serve for a term of 3 years. Upon the expiration of the term of any member, a successor shall be appointed in like manner. The appointing entity shall in like manner fill any vacancy for the remainder of the unexpired term.

Health Policy Commission
MGL Part I, Title II, Chapter 6D, Section 2:

The board shall consist of 11 members:…and three members shall be appointed by the auditor. All appointments after the initial term of appointment shall serve a term of 5 years, but a person appointed to fill a vacancy shall serve only for the unexpired term. An appointed member of the board shall be eligible for reappointment; however, no appointed member shall hold full or part-time employment in the executive branch of state government.

Of those persons appointed by the auditor, 1 shall have demonstrated expertise in representing the health care workforce as a leader in a labor organization and shall be initially appointed for a term of 4 years; 1 shall have demonstrated expertise as a purchaser of health insurance representing business management or health benefits administration and shall be initially appointed for a term of 3 years; and 1 shall have demonstrated expertise in the development and utilization of innovative medical technologies and treatments for patient care and shall be initially appointed for a term of 2 years.

Inspector General Council
MGL Part I, Title II, Chapter 12A, Section 3:

Section 3. There shall be an inspector general council which shall consist of…the state auditor or a designee…a person with experience in business or accounting or on the faculty of a college of business or of accounting within the commonwealth appointed by the state auditor from a list of 3 such persons submitted by the president of the senate…The appointive members shall serve for a term of three years and shall be compensated for work performed for the inspector general council at such rate as the secretary of administration shall determine and shall be reimbursed for expenses necessarily incurred in the performance of their duties. The inspector general shall meet with the inspector general council at least quarterly and may consult or request the assistance of members of the inspector general council with respect to the duties and responsibilities of the office.

PCA Council
MGL Part I, Title XVII, Chapter 118E, Section 71:

The PCA quality home care workforce council shall consist of 9 members appointed under this section. A majority of the members of the council shall be consumers as defined in this chapter….The auditor shall appoint 1 member from a slate of 3 consumers recommended by the developmental disabilities council, 1 member from a slate of 3 consumers recommended by the Massachusetts office on disability, and 1 member from a slate of 3 consumers recommended by the statewide independent living council. Appointees to the council shall serve 3 year terms. If a vacancy occurs, the executive officer who made the original appointment shall appoint a new council member to serve the remainder of the unexpired term or, in the event that the vacancy occurs as the result of the completion of a term, to serve a full term, and such appointment shall become immediately effective upon the member taking the appropriate oath. If the departing council member was appointed under a recommendation made under this paragraph, the executive officer shall make the new appointment from a slate of 3 recommendations put forth by the entity that originally recommended the departing council member. Members of the council may serve for successive terms of office.

PERAC
MGL Part I, Title II, Chapter 7, Section 49:

There shall be within the executive office of administration and finance, but not subject to its control, a public employee retirement administration commission consisting of seven members,…three of whom shall be appointed by the state auditor…Of the three persons appointed by the state auditor, one shall be the state auditor or his designee, the president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO or his designee, and one shall be a representative of the Massachusetts Municipal Association. Each member of the commission shall serve for a term of five years; provided, however, that in making initial appointments, the governor and the state auditor shall each appoint one member for a term of three years and one member for a term of four years…Upon the expiration of the term of an appointed member, or the chairman, or a vacancy otherwise created in said positions, the successor for said position shall be appointed in the manner aforesaid, or for the remainder of said term, whichever is applicable. In the event the representative of a public safety union or the designee of the president of the Massachusetts AFL/CIO is a public employee, he or she shall be granted leave, without loss of pay or benefits and without being required to make up lost time, if on duty, for regularly scheduled work hours while in the performance of responsibilities of the commission.

Governor-Appointed Positions

Agricultural Lands Preservation Committee
Farmer 4
Rep. of Farm Advocacy Organization

Board of Allied Health Professions
Occ. Therapy  Asst.

Board of Certification of Drinking Water Supply Facilities
Massachusetts Labor Org.

Board of Certification of Health Officers
Health Officer 2
Non-Gov Health Agent

Board of Certification of Operators of Wastewater Treatment Facilities
Sanitary Engineer

Board of Directors of the Children’s Trust Fund
Seat 11
Seat 15
Seat 4
Seat  29
Seat 5

Board of Registration in Dentistry
Public 2

Board of Registration of Dietitians and Nutritionists
Educator

Board of Registration of Dispensing Opticians
Public

Board of Registration of Electrologists
Public
Physician

Board of Fire Prevention Regulations
Public

Board of Registration of Nursing Home Administrators
Educator

Board of Registration of Perfusionists
Public Member

Board of Registration of Physician Assistants
Public 2

Board of Registration of Psychologists
Psychologist 7

Board of Registration of Sanitarians
Public
Public Health

Commission on the Future of the Metropolitan Beaches
Governor’s appointee

Commonwealth Corporation Board of Directors
Seat 9

Cultural Facilities Fund Advisory Committee
Northeastern Mass-Construction Experience

Department of Conservation and Recreation Stewardship Council
At-Large 4 (Worcester)

Devens Enterprise Commission
Town of Ayer Associate
Town of Shirley 2

Economic Assistance Coordinating Council
WESTERN REGION REP.

Governor’s Advisory Council on Refugees and Immigrants
Seat 13
Seat 4

Governor’s Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts
Seat  10

Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee
At-Large

Juvenile Justice Policy and Data Board
Parent of a child subject to juvenile court jurisdiction 2

Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council
Consumer Primary 9

Massachusetts Home Ownership Advisory Committee
Seat 13
Seat 14
Seat 15

Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission Statewide Rehabilitation Advisory Council
Higher Education Rep 1
Disabilities Rep. 8

Massachusetts Servicemember Post-Deployment Council
Veterans’ Agent (2)

Recreational Tramway Board
Ski Club Member

Salem and Beverly Water Board
Salem

Salem State University Assistance Corporation
Experienced in College Administration

Subcommittee on Addiction Services
Professionally Experienced in the Area of Gambling Addictions 1
Professionally Experienced in the Area of Gambling Addictions 2

Subcommittee on Community Mitigation
Small Business Owner in a Host Community
Representative from a Chamber of Commerce Serving a Host Community

University of Massachusetts Building Authority
Seat 1

Water Resources Management Advisory Committee
Consumer Organization

Zero Emission Vehicle Commission
Representative of the Environmental Community 1
Representative of Electric or Fuel Cell Vehicle Manufacturers 3

Make diversity a reality on Massachusetts public boards and commissions – Join the Parity on Board Coalition

YW Boston leads the Parity on Board Coalition, in support of An Act to Ensure Gender Parity and Racial and Ethnic Diversity on Public Boards and Commissions (H.4153). If passed, this bill would require that the composition of each appointed public board and commission broadly reflect the general public of the Commonwealth. All appointive boards and commissions of the state shall be gender, racially and ethnically balanced. According to the bill, composition should not exceed 50% of one gender. Additionally, racial and ethnic composition of each board and commission must, at minimum, reflect the percentage of racial and ethnic minorities in the general population. As our state and community continues to grow economically and culturally, enacting this legislation would bring about major change across our leadership diversity.

You can support this legislation by contacting your State Representative urge them to support H.4153 and to contact House Ways and Means Chairman Aaron Michlewitz, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo to ask for quick passage of this bill in the House of Representatives. You can also join Parity on Board as a coalition member. The coalition is comprised of organizations across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts dedicated to diversifying state leadership. Learn more about supporting Parity on Board at parityonboard.org.

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About YW Boston 

As the first YWCA in the nation, YW Boston has been at the forefront of advancing equity for over 150 years. Through our DE&I services—InclusionBoston and LeadBoston—as well as our advocacy work and youth programming, we help individuals and organizations change policies, practices, attitudes, and behaviors with a goal of creating more inclusive environments where women, people of color, and especially women of color can succeed. 

During this time, YW Boston is working to provide organizations with digital workshops and resources to help them better understand the challenges faced by their employees. As part of that work, we are helping organizations become socially connected while staying physically distant. For more information, please contact Sheera Bornstein at sbornstein@ywboston.org.