At the annual All Hands Meeting held at Princeton University in June 2023, the DCN Governance Board voted to adopt a revised Governance Model for the Network, effective July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2024. This is now the third version of our Governance Model, which we have continued to refine since initial adoption in July 2021.
In Version 2, approved June 30, 2022, the Governance Model including the following key changes:
- Formalizing and codifying the Executive Committee and its roles and responsibilities in the DCN
- Expanding the role of the DCN Director to reflect the current reality of a full-time position, including incorporating duties previously assigned to the Assistant Director
- Removing elections as the means of determining committee chairs and Executive Board committee members in favor of seeking volunteers
In Version 3, approved June 30, 2023, the Governance Model was expanded to adopt and formalize a Finance Committee to support the DCN Director in their fiduciary responsibilities.
After adopting the first Governance Model (https://hdl.handle.net/11299/225742) in July 2021, DCN members knew that the model would need to change as our organization grew. So, as the initial governance process was implemented, we encountered challenges and opportunities for improvement. To that end, the DCN Executive Committee met regularly to discuss these challenges, then used the Google Docs “suggesting” feature to track our proposed changes. At the end of each year, in preparation for All Hands, the Executive Committee reviewed all of the suggestions. The team also hosted Governance Board meetings specifically around these changes to get a better sense from community members as to whether or not these changes were appropriate.
Version 2 changes
In Version 2 of our Governance Model, we officially adopted a five person Executive Committee, composed of four DCN members with staggered two-year terms, and chaired by the DCN Director. The Executive Committee was launched in July 2021 as an interim measure for conducting the daily work of the network in lieu of a Governance Board Chair. The role of the Executive Committee quickly grew as the team met weekly and could respond quickly to time-sensitive and operational aspects of the DCN, such as collaboration requests, strategic visioning, and activity planning. Additionally, the Executive Committee shared the responsibility of preparing for and facilitating monthly Governance Board meetings. To that end, the team proposed formalizing the Executive Committee as a standing structure within the DCN.
Following the departure of Lisa Johnston, former DCN Director and PI, the roles of the DCN Director and Assistant Director were collapsed into a single position. This change was then reflected in our Governance Model, as we wanted our model to capture our current operational state. While we hope to add additional roles to the DCN over time, we believe that it is important to be transparent about our processes and positions as they are, not as we might wish they were.
A final key change in Version 2 is the removal of elected positions on our committees and working groups. While our Curators at Large still go through an election process, the Executive Committee decided that asking individuals to volunteer for an election was an extra step – if someone is volunteering, we want to honor that commitment and find a way for them to engage in that work without requiring a formal voting process. We are excited to try out this revised process for a few years and receive community feedback.
Version 3 change
A final significant change is the formalization and adoption of a Finance Committee. This Committee is composed of three members – a curator representative, a Governance Board Representative, and an Executive Committee member – who meet with the DCN Director quarterly to review any ad hoc changes to the annually approved budget. The Finance Committee also helps to draft and present the budget to the Governance Board at each All Hands Meeting, as well as addresses any other potential expenditure questions that come up unexpectedly.
Testing our membership model and governance processes over these past few years has been essential for incrementally improving our work. We have tried to balance flexibility with structure, which has further enabled us to support the community and facilitate engagement. We acknowledge that governance is an active process, and are grateful for the DCN community for providing feedback on the structures that work – and more importantly, those that don’t work! We will continue to hold the door open to the possibility of future adjustments in order to be responsive to future community needs, especially as we continue to bring new voices and perspectives to the DCN.