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Setting the Boardroom Table

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BKD LLP. Kraft Foods Inc. O’Reilly Auto Parts. Bank of America.

Some of the largest companies doing business in Springfield have seats at the boardroom table at Ozarks Food Harvest.

People have been more eager to serve on the OFH board or as volunteers than in the past, said Executive Director Bart Brown, citing a greater awareness about the nonprofit food bank.

Organizations seek board members to fulfill the three T’s – time, talent and treasures – said John Moore, retiring director of the Upper White River Basin Foundation. For individuals, reasons for board involvement include community service and working for an organization for which they’re passionate.

In his Upper White River position and as president of Drury University 1983–2005, Moore helped select board members, and he currently serves on the Metropolitan National Bank board.

“I think people are attracted to service on boards because they’re interested in the institution or organization the board oversees,” Moore said. “They often have an active involvement in that organization. They have a sense of giving back, of service.”

Bob Lawson, BKD general counsel and Ozarks Food Harvest board president, is a business professional who found a cause he wanted to help.

“Serving on nonprofits gives one an opportunity to address issues for the good of the community,” Lawson said.

During Lawson’s tenure, OFH raised $458,000 in its fiscal 2009 capital campaign and was selected out of five Missouri charities to receive a $100,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation Associate Choice Program.

In return for the volunteer work, companies such as BKD receive a favorable image when their workers volunteer, Lawson added. The Top 10 national public accounting firm does not mandate volunteerism, but he said it is encouraged. Workers are allowed to attend meetings and events without penalty after BKD approves the nonprofit work.

“I think we have a role as a corporate citizen to work within this community,” Lawson said.
As a new board member of Sigma House of Springfield Inc., a drug and alcohol addiction recovery center with Springfield, Nixa and Branson locations, Kim Rohde believes she can use her marketing and advertising experience to help the nonprofit.

She has worked in that role for Forsyth-based Ozark Mountain Newspapers since 2003.

“It’s an important cause with a lot of people that can be helped,” said Rohde, who was appointed with Dr. Shirley Cooper of Springfield to three-year terms on the nine-member Sigma House board.

Return on investment
While most nonprofits rely on volunteers to fill their board slots, some for-profit businesses pay directors.

Moore receives a director fee of $500 per meeting for his Metropolitan National Bank board role, which he’s served seven years. He added that there is quite a bit of homework.

“The key job of a board member is to direct the bank’s activity. They set the tone for the organization and are responsible for the direction of the company, making sure the bank is holding management accountable for their actions,” said Sterling Huff Jr., president of Metropolitan National Bank, which has a nine-member board.

Area electric cooperatives also rely on a board of directors for a governing body. Members of Marshfield-based Webster Electric Cooperative elect board members at an annual meeting in September. Directors are appointed for three-year terms and paid $200 per meeting, said Tom Houston, the co-op’s general manager. The nine-member board – which last month added Lloyd Gunter, of Marshfield; John Ed Atkinson, of Rogersville; and Harold Dill, of Niangua – governs the cooperative, sets budgets and rates, and approves policy, Houston said.

“Our board does spend a lot of time outside the board meeting,” he added.
 
What they look for
Various issues affect how organizations choose board members.

Ozarks Food Harvest’s board has a recruitment committee to help select candidates, said Bart Brown, OFH executive director.

“We look at age demographics. We’re looking for overall diversity and diversity in ages,” Brown said. “There’s a particular skill set that we are looking for (comprising) fundraising, advocacy, financial management and accounting, government and public-sector relations and legal services.”

At Metropolitan National Bank, business skills, and knowledge of and involvement in the business community are vital for directors, Huff said.

“Those directors are taking on a pretty big role by agreeing to provide that fiduciary responsibility,” Huff said. “The stockholders appoint the directors and ultimately decide the makeup of the bank board.”

The 32-member volunteer board of directors at CoxHealth is a working board, hiring hospital administrators, setting policy and dealing with issues such as finance, quality, safety, buildings, capital and equipment through 12 committees, said Laurie Duff, hospital vice president of corporate communications.

As part of the recent emergency department expansion at Cox, each board member donated funds to add a 911 response room, which cost roughly $50,000 and has a live audio/video link to the Greene County Office of Emergency Management. Duff said the amounts varied and each board member gave what they felt comfortable giving.

Board vacancies occur as members reach age 70 or leave the board, Duff said. When vacancies occur, the board chairman appoints a nominating committee.

“The fact that we have a locally governed board makes a very positive difference,” Duff said. “You hope to have local influence that way.”[[In-content Ad]]

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