Giving Compass' Take:

• Here are some lessons learned from a Board President who took over the position in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

• How are boards adapting to the challenges brought on by COVID-19? 

• Learn about engaging your board as you navigate the pandemic. 

In July, I had the fortune of assuming the role of President of the Board for Hillel Torah, a Modern Orthodox Day School in Skokie, IL. Even in “normal” years, I imagine there’s a steep learning curve at the outset of taking on this responsibility. Of course, this is far from a normal year. Despite preparing myself for the challenge of navigating the intricacies of process, discussion, and decisions amidst a pandemic, the experience itself has been illuminating, portending to what the next couple of years in the role might entail.

Some early lessons learned:

  • Empathize. Parents, administration, teachers and students are all grappling with the uncertainty of school’s reopening. Opinions range from “We absolutely must be in-person with minimal modifications” to “It’s irresponsible to do anything other than 100% virtual learning.”
  • Frame the situation. We often think of our decisions as being choices between right and wrong, or good vs. bad. But when it comes to how best to educate our children during a pandemic, our options are between bad and less bad.
  • Prepare to adapt. Safe, responsible reopening for in-person learning amidst a pandemic requires a detailed plan with myriad protocols and contingencies.
  • First debate, then communicate as one. Boards are comprised of a range of perspectives and people, often Type A personalities who are confident and outspoken. This can be challenging, but is also healthy and necessary.
  • Don’t lose sight of longer-term strategies. It would be easy to press the “hold” button on longer-term strategic ventures, with so much time and energy being spent on COVID-19 plans. Nobody would fault us for it. But the world doesn’t halt due to this virus.

Read the full article about board leadership by Jonathan Weiss at eJewish Philanthropy.