Transition Task Force

PRESENT: Commissioners Luke Shorty, Becky Hayes-Boober, Janet May, Celeste Branham, Chelsey Fortin-Trimble, Jenni Tilton-Flood.  Thenera Bailey, SISGI. Maryalice Crofton, Commission Executive Director. Secretary of State Shenna Bellows and staff Joann Bautista and David Lachance.

The members convened at 3:00 pm using the virtual meeting technology.

This was the first meeting, so the agenda has several organizing tasks.

Chair Luke Shorty thanked everyone for agreeing to serve and recognized the members who are not from the Commission. He asked members to introduce themselves. After the round, he reviewed the purpose of the task force. It has been constituted by the Commission to closely examine two issues: potential change in the Commission fiscal agent from the Maine Department of Education to the Department of the Secretary of State; and, future change in the Commission Executive Director position. The task force expects to meet monthly and work through the project as outlined in SISGI’s scope of work.

At this point, Luke asked Thenera Bailey from SISGI to walk through the phases of the project. She opened with some background about SISGI. It is a consultant for organizations doing strategic planning, succession planning, undertaking DEI initiatives, and capacity building. Recent clients include the AARP Foundation, America’s Service Commissions, and the state service commissions for New Mexico, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Maine. In 2022, she facilitated the DEI exploration/education by Volunteer Maine’s DEI subcommittee, staff, and board retreat.

For this project, Thenera will work with two colleagues. One will do research between meetings and help analyze information. The other may step in when Thenera is out of country and the task force is meeting. 

The project is organized in phases which she reviewed with members.

Department of Education and Department of State Operational Review. Deliverables in this milestone will include meetings within departments to understand concerns and timelines for information sharing, analysis of the current systems in DOE operations of Volunteer Maine that might need to change or be modified in the Department of State, and an orientation on Volunteer Maine for Department of State stakeholders to understand programs, grants, and national service.

Executive Transition and Succession Planning. Review current leadership strategies, position descriptions, and responsibilities within the role of Executive Director at Volunteer Maine. A playbook will be developed that covers the key responsibilities and duties for the work within the Department of Education and some of the institutional knowledge owned by the current individual in this role.

Sustainability Audit. Conduct a sustainability audit of the organization and develop strategies to address organizational and leadership vulnerabilities. The work will include an assessment of the organization’s alignment with the strategic and state service plans, operating performance, and capacity to meet future client needs to ensure sustainability. This strategy will be part of the operational development for the potential transition to the Department of State to determine best practices and strategies for managing roles and responsibilities within the State Department structure.

Activities will occur via virtual workgroup sessions and use basecamp to share documents. No travel is envisioned in this project.

Discussion among members covered several topics. There was a request to see the job description of the Executive Director and understand the state classification system. A member familiar with state government processes noted it is possible the job would need to be reclassed and that could take a significant amount of time. Another issue is understanding how much input the Commission could have in any hiring. A third issue was the finances and logistics – even permission – to have leaders overlap should the need arise. One member emphasized the need for staff to have input into analyzing and describing leadership qualities that would be needed. They have the daily expertise of what works and what is needed.

Members expressed strong interest in learning more about the affiliations other state commissions have. New Jersey is known to be under their Secretary of State. Secretary Bellows noted there are only three states like Maine.  

Thenera committed to bringing information about the connections other state service commissions have to the next meeting. Her presentation will include a look at similarities and differences that may add strengths or create challenges. SISGI’s lead contacts in the two Departments will be Chelsey Fortin-Trimble for the Dept of Education and Joann Bautista for the Secretary of State. 

This led to a conversation about establishing a routine meeting schedule. After consulting schedules, the task force will meet the second Friday of each month in 2023 from 2-4pm. That makes the next meeting March 10.

There being no other discussion items, the members dispersed at 4:01 pm