We know building community power starts with how we distribute power within our organization. That is why, over the past year, we adopted a 3-Year Leadership Plan to shift from a top-down, traditional governance structure to a more community based structure. Specifically, that means adopting a structure that puts decision making power and leadership positions in the hands of women from the community we serve - primarily, our fellows.
As of July 2021, we adopted a community-governance board structure and became a member-based organization.
What does this mean?
A community engagement model of governance is built on participatory principles. Responsibility for governance is shared across the organization, including the organization’s key stakeholders: its constituents and community, its staff, and the board. Our structure also creates paths to leadership and training for our constituents.
The tree below is a visual representation of our theory of governance. Refugee and immigrant women join our community through the fellowship, gaining skills and community. They can then get involved in organizing and mutual aid, and then in setting the direction of the organization as Members or as part of leadership committees, truly growing as leaders and supporting Havenly's growth.
What are members and leadership committees?
Members meet twice a year to set the strategic plan and evaluate its execution with the rest of the board, and vote the leadership staff and Board Members in and out of the organization. Membership requires participation in an annual training on Havenly and its path. In some ways, they are like voters in our democratic political system.
Havenly is overseen by five committees, each of which includes former graduates, community members, and staff members. The committees are:
- Fiduciary: this is the legal board, with traditional legal, financial, and strategic fiduciary responsibilities. Board members must sit on at least one other committee;
- Fellowship: oversees curriculum development, monitors and ensures program quality and mission compatibility;
- Organizing: oversees and monitors organizing strategies and resources for alumni;
- Finance and fundraising: ensures the financial health of the organization and coordinates fundraising strategies;
- Food Business: ensures the financial health of the food business and its strategic planning.
In three years, we aim for 51% of all committee member seats to be filled by alums, so that the organization is meaningfully directed by people who come from the community that Havenly was created for.