Jim Delahanty had been a president three times when he wrote the following article on the duties of a Rose Society president. This article previously appeared in ARS &You,2008,Volume 2,Number 11.
So You Are the PRESIDENT, Now What?
By Jim Delahanty
As one of Shakespeare’s more troublesome characters noted, ‘some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon ‘em.’ If you are in the latter category, you have probably just been elected president of your local society after being assured through a combination of cajolery and coaxing that the job was really ‘easy’ and ‘nothing to it.’ About the time of your installation, the coaxers and cajolers somehow disappear into the woodwork. So, what do you do next?
The first thing to do is to look at two sources of information. The White Book on the ARS website contains a list of obligations of the local society President to the American Rose Society in Section II,page 7. The major source of the President’s obligations, however, is to be found in the local society Bylaws.
The main obligations to the ARS include 3 reporting functions, 4 appointing functions, two positive duties and one negative duty.
Send a list of the names and addresses of local society officers and the newsletter editor to ARS HQ in January of every year.
Send a list of local society members to ARS HQ in January of every year
Notify the ARS HQ of the recipient of the Bronze Medal (if there is one) in a timely manner
A Coordinator of Consulting Rosarians
A member to the District Awards Committee (term is for 3 years to coincide with that of the District Director per ARS rules)
A Coordinator for the Roses in Review program
A Membership Chair
(Notify the District Chairs of these appointments. Even better make all of the appointments for a three-year term.)
Encourage rose horticulture in programming
Encourage membership in the American Rose Society
Do not endanger the non-profit tax status of the American Rose Society
Generally, Bylaws list presidential obligations in two forms:ministerial and discretionary.
Ministerial duties are those to be performed as a clear responsibility without any leeway: for example, a duty to call a meeting upon the request of a particular number of Board members. Whether the president thinks such a meeting is desirable or not is beside the point, the duty is clear and not subject to the president’s judgment. Presidents are usually required to appoint the heads of committees, including the Nomination committee. Usually, they are obligated to preside over meetings of the general membership and the Board of Directors unless incapacitated for some reason. And presidents implicitly have the duty to see that the Bylaws are faithfully observed.
Discretionary duties of the president include general responsibility for the society’s growth and oversight of the society activities, ex-officio membership in all the standing committees, and fostering both community outreach and other educational activities through the traditional rose show or some other means. On the micro level of activity, the President may or may not write a monthly message for the society newsletter.
Two Unwritten obligations:
Presidents must delegate some duties. Bylaws may specify other officers like Vice Presidents in charge of Programs, or Rose Shows, or other activities. Even if these positions are not specifically enumerated by the Bylaws, they should exist in order to protect the President from overt exhaustion. A President who attempts to do everything will ultimately wind up exhausted and alienated from the society. If you cannot find anyone to perform particular functions in your rose society, you have to ask yourself whether or not this activity is worth doing.
No matter how many other officers are listed in the Bylaws, the person to whom the society and those outside the society look for answers is the President. If the meeting room is locked, it is the president’s duty to find the key. The President is the first responder in any crisis situation, at least partially because a president is visible in a way that no other officer is. If a speaker cancels at the last minute, it is initially the duty of the Program Chair to find a replacement, but it is ultimately the President who announces the substitute program. There is a Treasurer, but the president is responsible for the financial health of the society.
The average length of time when you stop getting mail addressed to you as President is about five years after your term is over.