Board of Directors Role & Nominations
Members of the Bartram’s Garden Board of Directors celebrating Twilight in the Garden in October 2022.
Board Purpose & Priorities
Many people participate in non-profit boards to serve their communities, expand personal and professional networks, provide volunteer service, or connect more deeply with organizations or causes that share their values.
According to current members of the Bartram’s Garden Board, their service is also deeply fun and fulfilling. They shared:
• “This has been a tremendously positive experience.”
• “I’m consistently impressed with how committed everyone is!”
• “It’s a pleasure to be on board!”
• “I love Bartram’s Garden! It feels like such a gift to be able to support the Garden.”
Board Priorities: An Equitable, Resilient Garden
The Board takes a high-level, strategic approach to the Garden’s ongoing work, focusing mostly on major initiatives to guide the organization’s long-term efforts. Current priorities center around the following major goals:
- Campus Vision: In partnership with neighbors, Bartram’s Garden has developed a campus vision to make the site’s year-round activities even richer and more interactive, create opportunities for more rigorous scientific inquiry that advances the STEM movement in Philly and beyond, and help to diversify our region’s environmental workforce. The projects include a range of campus investments throughout the Garden’s 50 acres during the next decade. The Board is actively engaged in advancing the fundraising campaign for the full vision and participates in planning, design, and partnership development.
- Organizational Equity: Called by our mission, Bartram’s Garden is committed to strengthening our practices of equity and inclusion in all our work, from public programming to resource use, from hiring to land management practices. Through policy development, resource allocation, and decision-making practices, Board supports the implementation of a staff-driven Equity Action Plan focused on three specific goals:
- Organizational Culture & Commitment: Bartram’s Garden will cultivate a culture that reflects a commitment to racial equity and social justice for itself and the community it serves.
- Governance & Operations: Bartram’s Garden’s culture, policies, and practices will change to reflect its commitment to equity.
- Empowered People: Bartram’s Garden will deepen its engagement and communications with staff and external stakeholders and partner with them to advocate for equity and inclusion.
Board activities are intended to be transparent. Although the Board may choose to keep individual discussions confidential for reasons of safety or privacy, at each meeting the Board approves the minutes from the previous gathering for circulation to the Bartram’s Garden staff. Members of the public may also request to review approved meeting minutes at any time.
The Board is not involved in the day-to-day workings of the Garden but works closely with many members of the staff. In partnership with staff leadership, the Board is responsible for the following duties:
- overseeing and approving the use and management of resources, including but not limited to financial resources and site management;
- participating in the development and implementation of long-term strategies, goals, and priorities;
- advising on vendor selection or process for major improvements to the Garden’s physical spaces or non-physical assets;
- and serving as ambassadors, champions, and fundraisers for the Garden.
The Board also holds ultimate fiduciary responsibility for the organization and is responsible for conducting the Executive Director’s annual performance evaluation. The Board also has the sole authority to hire or fire the Executive Director.
Members of the Board of Directors join staff, members of the Southwest Philadelphia Community Leadership Circle, and representatives from SRDC for a behind-the-scenes tour of the new South Mile Trail between 56th Street and 61st Street in June 2021.
If you are interested in being considered as a candidate for the Board, please fill out the form below.
Our bylaws state the following requirements for Board membership:
• The Board can have up to 30 members at any one time.
• All Board members must be over the age of 18.
• There is no residency requirement for Board members.
• Board members serve as volunteers and are not compensated for their role on the Board.
No previous non-profit or Board experience is required for participation.
Bartram’s Garden aims to have a Board that is reflective of our diverse community of visitors, neighbors, and partners, with a range of skillsets and professional or lived experiences. We are currently particularly looking for Board members with familiarity with the following subjects:
• Southwest Philadelphia
• Financial management, accounting, or budgeting
• Organizational communications or storytelling
• Any of the Garden’s focus areas for ongoing public programming and site management, including but not limited to horticulture and agriculture, education, environmental science, outdoor recreation, and public health
Board visioning notes from Fall 2020.
Board Nomination & Election Process
The Board’s Nominating & Governance Committee is responsible for recruiting, nominating, and welcoming new Board members and for maintaining an active list of prospective members. The Nominating & Governance Committee meets quarterly to discuss candidates and advance recruitment and outreach strategies in addition to its other duties.
Prospective members for the Board are identified by current members of the Board and staff through existing relationships and through nomination or recommendation from individuals or partner organizations. Candidates are considered based on the skills, experiences, and perspectives they might bring to the Board as well as their commitment to the Garden’s mission, vision, and values. Members of the Nominating & Governance Committee and staff meet with interested candidates to discuss opportunities for deeper connection with the Garden, including not only Board service but also project-specific volunteering, participation in Board committees, or other activities aligned with the candidate’s skills and interests.
When the Nominating & Governance Committee identifies a strong candidate for Board membership, the Committee nominates the candidate for election and shares its recommendation with the full Board. The Board votes on nominations at least once a year, at its annual meeting each December, and may choose to also vote on nominations at other times.
All Board members are expected to participate in the following regular activities:
• Attending and participating in meetings in person at Bartram’s Garden or via Zoom;
• Reading and reviewing materials distributed via email or fileshare, such as written reports, organizational planning documents, or financial spreadsheets;
• Responding in a timely fashion to periodic opportunities or requests conveyed by fellow Board members or by Bartram’s Garden staff via email or phone; and
• Adhering to the mission, vision, and values of Bartram’s Garden in all Garden-related communications, activities, and engagement.
All incoming Board members are required to participate in an orientation session to introduce them to the workings of the Board. New Board members are also paired with longer-term members as buddies to help them get acclimated. Board members are also welcome to request additional support or guidance on their duties at any time, especially if they are developing new skillsets like using Zoom or reviewing financial spreadsheets.
All Board members are expected to fulfill the following:
• Understand and commit to the Garden’s mission, vision, and values
• Ensure the organization is fulfilling its mission, vision, and values in a sustainable way
• Attend and participate in Board meetings on a regular basis
• Participate in at least one Board committee
• Understand the Garden’s finances, budget, and financial/resource needs
• Learn about and, when possible, engage with or participate in the Garden’s various public programs, initiatives, and events
• Advocate publicly and within their social or professional networks for the Garden’s work
• Financially support the Garden by donating to the Board Annual Fund each year in an amount that is personally meaningful
• Identify and reach out to potential future Board members through your networks, especially at the conclusion of their term
• Maintain confidentiality for Board discussions and activities as appropriate
Board Time Commitment
All Board members are asked to attend and participate in the following regular meetings and activities:
• At least 3 of 5 Board meetings annually (2 hours each in October, December, February, April, June)
• 1 full-day Board retreat (8 hours in November)
• 2–6 committee meetings annually, depending on committee schedule (2 hours per month, typically in months when the full Board does not meet)
• At least 1 special event per year (Twilight in the Garden Gala in October, Indigenous People’s Day in October, SankofaFest in October, Handmade Holidays in December, SpringFest in April, Juneteenth in June, HoneyFest in September)
• Prepare for meetings and complete any assigned tasks between meetings (~1–2 hours every other month)
Board terms are three years long, renewable once. Board members are asked to attend at least 3 of the 5 Board meetings annually. Meetings and retreats typically take place on weekdays between 8 AM and 6 PM; the annual meeting each December takes place on the first Saturday of the month.
Board meetings are generally held in-person at the Garden, with an option to attend via Zoom if necessary. The annual retreat and special events are held in person. Committee meetings are generally held via Zoom and do not require in-person attendance.
Members of the Board of Directors join state and local elected officials for a visit to the Sankofa Community Farm.
All Board members are asked to participate in at least one committee annually. Committees also include and encourage non-Board participants.
The following standing committees meet on a regular basis to support the work of the Garden:
- Executive Committee: All the Board officers and standing committee chairs. This committee may be convened to act on behalf of the Board in urgent matters or to advise on organizational priorities.
- Finance & Resource Development Committee: Focuses on sustainable and values-driven resource management, including both personnel and finances.
- Advancement Committee: Focuses on major fundraising and engagement to support significant campus investments as well as operational fundraising and communications.
- Landscapes & Facilities Planning Committee: Focuses on planning for capital projects and campus investments, including the ecosystems education center and freshwater mussel hatchery, field station, shoreline restoration, historic building preservation or restoration, and Bartram’s Mile trail improvements such as the swing bridge and the Concrete Cowboys stable.
- Nominating & Governance Committee: Oversees all Board development and recruitment, including self-assessment, capacity-building, and orientation.
- Programs & Education Committee: Supports and monitors ongoing public programming, outreach, and partnerships, especially in Southwest Philadelphia.
- Twilight in the Garden Committee: Focuses on preparations and outreach for the annual gala in October, especially sponsor and auction solicitation, ticket sales, and other event promotion.
Board of Directors Interest Form
If you are interested in being considered as a candidate for the Bartram's Garden Board of Directors, please fill out the form below. Your materials will be shared with the Board's Nominating & Governance Committee for review. A member of the Nominating & Governance Committee will be in touch within the next 3 months with more information.
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