Today was mostly devoted to the annual Channing House Board Retreat. I was invited (required) to go as a member of the Strategic Planning Committee, because the whole purpose of this retreat was to work over and prioritize the S.P. goals that the committee (in reality, its chair and its consultant) had prepared.
The retreat took place in the large meeting room at the Mitchell Park Library. This library complex was rebuilt and renovated a few years ago. It now incorporates a large modern library, a cafe, and a bunch of meeting rooms for community use. We were to arrive by 8:30 for a light breakfast and start work by 9. I rode with Joanne, who is the incoming treasurer for the Resident Association (replacing me), and Lennie, who is the incoming R.A. Vice President.
The day was pretty well organized. 25 or 30 people were there in all, maybe 5 members of staff including CEO Rhonda, four members of the actual Board that governs CH, me and Martha and Marcia of the SP committee, and the new RA executive committee. We were divided into 4 working groups at four round tables, each table with a Board member, a staff member, and 3-5 residents. There was a lengthy list of possible SP goals to hash over and prioritize, divided into 5 general goals. Two groups took them 1-5 and the other two went 5-1, so we wouldn’t all get tired on the same set of goals, as Rhonda said. It took all morning. We had a working lunch at 12, sandwiches and drinks while continuing to talk, then there was a wrap-up, and the residents were dismissed at 1pm. Staff and Board stayed on for their business.
I chilled for a few hours and then it was time for dinner with the people involved in tonight’s talk: Sally the speaker, Stew the event manager, Stew’s wife Kathy, and me and Lennie again now as the technical staff to bring off a zoom simulcast.
Which we did, it all worked. We had only about 14 zoom attendees and about 35 live audience. Sally gave a really interesting talk. For a number of years in the 90s and 00s she was an interim president at three different small colleges, one after another. She explained why and when a college would need an interim president and how she got hired to be one the first time. She was a success there, and on the strength of that got hired to the next and the next, each time helping to repair and reorient a school that was in trouble for one reason or another. These were small denominational schools, one Presbyterian and two, Catholic. In the Catholic schools she helped them get used to the idea of having a lay president, after generations of being run by Sisters.
Here’s a typical story. At her first school, a student complimented her saying “You’re different.” How so, she wondered. “You leave the lights on in the president’s house, and it’s so cheerful.” Turned out, the previous prez, who had left because of a no-confidence vote by faculty, was frugal, and always turned off the lights when she left a room in the house, so it was always dark. Sally hadn’t known that, and “I needed the lights on because it was a strange house and I couldn’t find my way around in the dark.” So what came naturally to her, was seen as a symbol by the community. Just a bit of luck.
In the question period she was asked about our local Santa Clara University, where they have recently hired their first female and first lay president. Sally said, “yeah they had to, they’re running out of Jesuits.” A fun talk and a really impressive biography. I’ve often noted how this place is full of over-achievers.
Anyway the technical part worked fine. I had a few scares setting up, things not seeming to work and me fumbling around, but the actual event came off perfectly, and now I’m off the hook. David M. has an event tomorrow afternoon, and John runs the Cordell event on Monday.