Nominations and Elections

As a non-profit membership association, IFT’s strength and vitality are directly linked to the expertise, experience, and unique points of view of its volunteer leadership. Each brings different perspectives to help inform and inspire the association’s strategic goals and to advance IFT’s mission and vision. To this end, IFT is committed to attracting, developing, and supporting strong volunteer leaders to drive IFT’s strategic vision.

To support this commitment, in 2017 IFT embarked on a research project which explored the impact of diversity and inclusion on the association as well as looked at IFT’s volunteer structures, systems, and approaches to assess their strengths and vulnerabilities. Through this research and subsequent supportive task force recommendations, it became clear that IFT needed to evolve its current nominations and elections processes. As a result, a Governance Task Force was formed to further examine board candidate development, nominations, and elections processes to more equitably attract, develop, and strengthen its leadership pipeline as well as provide more balanced expertise to support strategic responsibilities.


Recommendation Overview  The Governance Task Force, appointed by IFT’s Office of the President OOP), was tasked with identifying best practices for IFT’s Board leadership, development, and selection. Furthermore, it was important that these recommendations be informed by inclusive and equitable best practices.   

Recommendations were brought to IFT’s Board for consideration, and the three recommendations outlined below were unanimously approved. Review proposed updates to the IFT Bylaws.

Transitioning from a Nominations & Elections Committee composition to a Leadership Development Committee (LDC) model will broaden the scope of the Committee beyond selection. In addition, the LDC would provide input to inform ongoing training and leadership succession planning efforts in partnership with staff to ensure IFT’s commitment to support diversity, equity, and inclusion of IFT members at all levels of volunteer leadership.

This transition will be a phased approach over the next three years, allowing previously elected Nominations and Elections Committee members to fulfill their term. To further simplify, the Task Force recommends eliminating the Task Force on Nominations & Elections, giving the OOP authority to appoint the Leadership Development Committee. 

Leadership Development Committee Competencies and Experiences

  • Active involvement in IFT or other professional organizations
  • Understanding of volunteer leadership roles, competencies and attributes needed to advance organizations
  • Demonstrated skills in strategic thinking and decision making
  • Competencies in interviewing and selection of leaders who are forward thinking, decisive and demonstrate strategic and courageous leadership
  • Strong communication and networking skills
  • Build and sustain multicultural teams and environments; articulate their approach and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion

Leadership Development Committee Scope of Work, Responsibilities, and Year-Round Activities

  • Composition should include recent board members as well as others with board experience in organizations with similar or higher complexity than IFT. Consideration should be given to appointing Committee member(s) who may bring a broader perspective to the process.
  • Development and oversight of the process of identifying, coaching, and stewarding qualified pools of applicants to serve as volunteer leaders.
  • Ensure that volunteers meet core competency skill areas and represent the diverse needs, perspectives, and experiences of IFT membership and the profession —tapping into an expanded pool of potential leaders and volunteers with diverse expertise and backgrounds.
  • Leads in assessing current and anticipated needs for board composition, determining the board’s knowledge, attributes, skills, abilities, influence, and access the board will need to consider in order to accomplish future work of the board.
  • Develops a profile of the board as it should evolve over time, mapping long term succession planning.
  • Identifies, screens and presents potential board member and president-elect candidates and explores with each candidate their interest in and availability for board service.
  • Presents a single slate, identifying one candidate for each open board position with the opportunity to expand the slate through a petition process. The petition process allows the membership to submit additional nominations for either the President-Elect or Board member vacancies. In order to be recognized as an additional candidate for election, each candidate must provide a petition supported by 5% of the Association’s voting members in order to initiate a contested election.
  • In cooperation with the Office of the President, meets regularly to inform the leadership development process and annually review board assessment outcomes.

Process for Checks and Balances

  • The Board and the Office of the President will work in partnership with the Leadership Development Committee to provide input on needed competencies and multi-representational factors, aligning the needs, vision, mission, and strategies of the organization on an annual basis.
  • The CEO and Volunteer Leadership staff will provide continuity and input to the Leadership Development Committee; and contributes to the leadership succession planning map to inform long-term leadership pipeline. 
  • The petition process allows membership to submit additional nominations. Each candidate must provide a petition supported by 5% of the Association’s voting members in order to initiate a contested election.

The Governance Task Force reviewed and discussed key, desired board competencies and multi-representational factors to ensure a diverse and representational board, positioned to advance the mission and strategic goals of IFT. The Task Force proposed the following additional competencies (noted in bold underline) and multi-representational factors to be considered in the slate development process:

CURRENT COMPETENCIES

PROPOSED COMPETENCIES

Minimum Requirements

Minimum Requirements

Premier Membership required

Premier Membership required

Hard Skills

Hard Skills

Experience in reviewing and evaluating financial reporting and budgeting

Experience in reviewing and evaluating financial reporting and budgeting

CFS credential a plus

CFS credential a plus

Relevant expertise in the disciplines of organizational management

Relevant expertise in the disciplines of organizational management

Soft Skills

Soft Skills

Innovative: track-record of ideas that have been implemented and have affected change

Innovative: track-record of ideas that have been implemented and have affected change

Accountability: understands personal role in success/failure, is self-reflective and responds to feedback

Accountability: understands personal role in success/failure, is self-reflective and responds to feedback

 

Team Orientation: Participates fully and works towards consensus

 

Communication Style: Speak confidently when expected or invited

Strategic Skills

Strategic Skills

Skilled in multi-dimensional thinking and problem analysis

 

Visionary: Demonstrates both future-thinking, as well as the ability to foster continuous improvement and influence collaboration

Capacity to utilize knowledge for decision making that benefits the overall organization

 

Strategist: Ability to consider the big picture while being goal/future oriented and mission focused; able to make informed decisions efficiently and take action when needed

Other Experiences

Other Experiences

Diverse IFT participation and IFT leadership background

Diverse IFT participation and IFT leadership background is a plus

Strong investment in food science and technology; experience in the field at a senior level

Strong investment in food science and technology

Demonstrated leadership commitment, effort, and involvement with IFT (committee, task force, section, division involvement)

Demonstrated leadership commitment, effort, and involvement with IFT (committee, task force, section, division involvement)

Leadership experience with allied industry/academic organizations a plus

Leadership experience with allied industry/academic organizations a plus

Experience on other boards and board positions held

Experience on other boards and board positions held

 

Experience in the field at a senior level a plus

The current methodology for selecting leadership through a popular election has added a level of difficulty to achieving diversity and balance on the board. Though the current Nominations & Elections Committee pays special attention to the possible combinations of candidates that could be elected by membership, ultimately the membership vote may not produce adequate representation of the experiences and diversity desired. In addition, at a given time, membership may not be fully aware of the competencies and skillsets needed on the board to advance the initiatives and strategies of the organization.

It is important to note that voter turnout has historically engaged less than 15% of the membership (see table below) further supporting the need to develop an alternate selection process. The shift to a Leadership Development Committee broadens the role of the Committee to a year-round function to identify, cultivate, and recruit future leaders and aligning them to leadership opportunities and positions throughout IFT.

 YEAR VOTER TURNOUT 
 2020  1683 (14.19%)
 2019  1978 (15.34%)
 2018  1957 (14.83%)
 2017  2247 (15.80%)
 2016  1,825 (13.14%)
 2015  1,185 (8.80%)
 2014  1,749 (12.81%)
 2013  1,901 (13.36%)
 2012  2,185 (15.21%)

What is the difference between a slate and popular election process? 
A popular election requires eligible members to vote on the nominees with the four Board candidates receiving the most votes being elected to the Board. For the President-Elect position, the candidate receiving the most votes is successful.  A non-contested slate is when the Leadership Development Committee selects one candidate for each position and presents a single slate to the Board and membership. 

Important note: The Task Force engaged Mark Engle, Principal at Association Management Center (AMC), to facilitate and help lead discussions on leading practices and focused the conversation using appropriate tools and prioritization methods. Mark co-authored the book, ‘Recruit the Right Board: Proven Processes for Selecting Critical Competencies,’ that the Task Force was asked to read as part of their preparation for the Task Force discussions. The book offered insight into leading practices for effective board recruitment, selection, and nomination processes for creating a competency-based board.
   

Membership Informational Town Hall

Membership participation in this process is important and critical to ensuring IFT’s membership is well represented by diverse perspectives and experiences. When we work together inclusively and equitably, we are stronger and better positioned for future success and sustainability.

IFT hosted a membership Town Hall on November 11 to walk through each recommendation and answer member questions before the event. We encourage members with new questions regarding the proposed updates to submit your questions via our IFT Ask a Question form.