The February 5th opening of the Library of Congress exhibit, “Churchill and the Great Republic,” was a significant event launching what may be our greatest year of accomplishment ever. Amid the glamour and excitement of the President’s unprecedented appearance at the Library, where CC people constituted twenty percent of his audience (page 29), and elegant dinners at the Library, British Embassy and Mayflower Hotel, something else occurred which for me at least was of more lasting value: The Churchill Centre held the first “open” meeting of its Executive Committee (its four officers and chairman of Trustees) on February 4th.
I have always strongly advocated open (some would say transparent) collective decision making for organizations like ours. The many of you who strongly support our work with time, donations or both must have full confidence that the Centre’s Governors are fulfilling their stewardship responsibilities. That confidence can be increased greatly if the Centre’s members know that key decisions are collective ones, reached by a process providing ready access to the Centre’s leadership.
The February 4th meeting was a fine example of open collective decision making. In attendance besides the five committee members and our executive director were four other Governors, the leadership of one of our most active affiliates (Chicago), two CC Associates (other than our board members), and one of our Trustees, Celia Sandys. (Lady Soames and Winston Churchill were invited but unable to attend.) Many spouses were also on hand. The opinions of all were sought on a variety of matters, and were freely given. These important contributions by non-members of the Executive Committee were thoughtful, valuable, germane to our issues and, frankly, most refreshing.
The aftermath was equally positive. One veteran of many CC meetings said to me afterwards: “Best meeting I’ve attended in years.” I received several phone calls and a most interesting letter from those who came, all of whom appreciated the opportunity to have been there and to have participated.
Along the same lines, monthly Executive Committee conference calls are held with an open invitation to the other Governors to join in, and several have done so each month. New Governors are specifically invited to participate in calls early in their terms, to acquaint them with the Centre’s programs and challenges. Executive Committee minutes are made available to the other Governors as soon as they have been approved. Governors have continually solicited the views of non-Governor members, and these members are being asked to participate and sometimes to lead Centre activities and programs. More and more Centre-related material is appearing in Finest Hour, the Chartwell Bulletins, and our website.
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