2016-17 Board of Directors: Midterm Reviews
How are the Students’ Union president and board of directors performing so far?
The following reviews were compiled by Senior News Editor Kaitlyn Severin, News Editor Maddy Cutts, News Editor Emilia Curcic and Editor-in-Chief Bethany Bowles. They are based on observations from meetings, as well as one-on-one meetings with the president, chair and directors.
Tyler Van Herzele
President & CEO
As the first Students’ Union President from the Laurier Brantford campus, Tyler Van Herzele has been doing a great job of recognizing the needs, issues and experiences of students at both campuses.
Van Herzele is very much a team player. He speaks highly of the board members and offers support when needed. He has been described as being very approachable to directors. It appears that he is more comfortable involving his colleagues in conversations about certain decisions, opposed to making decisions on his own. Van Herzele is encouraged to trust his own judgment and feel confident to make those tough calls, although he is applauded for his team involvement.
Van Herzele comes to every meeting well prepared, organized and with extensive updates. It appears that perhaps these updates are too extensive, so Van Herzele is encouraged to summarize more in order to save time. Van Herzele has a tendency to respond to directors’ questions with, “I’ll get back to you,” if he feels he is not well-versed on the topic in question. Although he does follow up, these delayed responses are not time effective.
Van Herzele has constantly been compared to his predecessor, Olivia Matthews, because they campaigned with similar goals. A main difference that has been pointed out, however, is that it was always very clear what specific causes Matthews was advocating for, whereas Van Herzele’s approach to advocacy appears to be more general and all encompassing. It is difficult to point out what specific issues he is solely invested in.
Van Herzele’s approach to communication is also worth noting. He is very passionate about hearing from the students directly and is taking necessary steps to make himself more accessible.
Overall, Van Herzele has had a good start. He has been making small changes as opposed to offering big ticket items. His approach is more realistic, but that doesn’t mean he should limit himself to what has to be done on the day-to-day operations. Van Herzele is encouraged to continue to be a great team player and communicator, but also narrow in on what specific changes he wants to make during his term.
Chair of the Board & Chief Governance Officer
Nick DeSumma seemed like the obvious choice to take the head of the table as chair of the board and chief governance officer after his experience as vice-chair last year. Even with Laurier Brantford as his home campus, DeSumma has made himself accessible and easy to communicate with on the Waterloo campus.
So far, DeSumma has been receiving a fair amount of positive feedback based on his performance. DeSumma has been praised for his communication skills and the support that he offers other members of the board. He offers good feedback and can be reassuring and supportive when other directors feel they have made mistakes at the board table. He has been appropriately balancing personal and professional relationships with the directors. DeSumma is encouraged to monitor conversations more heavily when they board gets off track. When it comes to following Robert’s Rules, DeSumma is doing a good job and is able to catch any mistakes as they come.
It is also encouraged that DeSumma be more aware of his bias. It has been noted that he has a way of making his own opinions clear, which can sometimes influence the opinions or votes of other members of the board.
Moving forward, it is recommended that DeSumma plan more socials or training sessions in the new term for the directors to attend, as it will give them the chance to communicate, socialize or share ideas outside of the boardroom. It is recommended that he continues to grow as a confident leader, be more assertive in meetings and not dwell on small mistakes he may make.
Vice Chair of the Board
As a second-year student and first time director, Nick Molkoski was thrown into the position of vice-chair of the board quickly, with little experience. Had he been a director first, the transition could have been smoother, but with Nick DeSumma as a mentor, Molkoski has been slowly learning and finding his feet.
As chair of the finance committee, it has been pointed out that Molkoski has the background to do this job efficiently and positive strides have been made in that committee as a result of his leadership.
While it was consistently pointed out that Molkoski has an abundance of knowledge about governance, that knowledge hasn’t been fully translated into the meetings. Molkoski comes across timid and is encouraged to have more confidence when speaking up in meetings. However, when he does speak, he makes well educated points and asks critical questions.
It is encouraged that Molkoski takes a more assertive role if he wishes to be on the board again next year. The knowledge and understanding is clearly there, but the confidence is lacking.
Genelle Martin has been an attentive and passionate director in her first year on the board of directors. While Martin has been late to a few meetings, she brings critical thinking to board discussions. When talking about issues relating the Laurier student body, Martin asks strategic-based questions to board members. She keeps her fellow directors accountable during board meetings and is not afraid to voice her opinions and recommendations on various topics related to the Students’ Union and the student body. While Martin has had a successful first term as a director, there is always room for her to grow. She is encouraged to continue asking strategic questions around the board table and become more consistent with her attendance.
Matt DeSumma has been an effective director thus far. Drawing from his experience as a returning director, DeSumma is able to ask critical questions at the table and stay engaged with the board’s role as a governance body. As the only Brantford director, he has been a member on all internal committees and has made a conscious effort to establish a presence on the Waterloo campus. DeSumma has risen to the challenge of being the sole director from his campus by ensuring that Brantford remains relevant in table discussions. DeSumma is encouraged to better assert himself at the table, as well as encourage other directors to engage with Brantford issues and projects.
It is difficult to determine Faraz Iftekharuddin’s contribution to the board as he has been noted to take a back seat in discussions. As a first year member of the board, Iftekharuddin has been able to grasp the basics of his role, albeit a slow learning curve. Based on his performance during board meetings, Iftekharuddin is encouraged to speak up more actively and share his opinions with the board. He should also make more of an effort to come prepared to ask questions. Iftekharuddin should aim to get more involved with board committees and work toward stronger attendance in the new term.
As another new member of the board, Kevin Jang has already shown his involvement both in and out of the board room this term. While Jang comes from a more operational background, it has taken longer for him to transition to a more strategic role on the board of directors. His questions and contributions to the board have been operational-based. While Jang is slowly learning to communicate with the board and contribute to discussions, he needs to speak up about concerns and issues surrounding the Laurier student body; a large part of a director’s role is to engage with students and fellow directors. He also appears to be distracted or unprepared during meetings. Jang is encouraged to speak up during meetings and ask more strategic questions in order to participate in the board’s discussions.
While Stephanie Bellotto may have had difficulty understanding her role as a director in the beginning of the term, she has come to impress her fellow directors at the board table. During meetings, Bellotto likes to ask for clarification when discussing important issues with the board members, which is beneficial to other members who may be thinking the same thing but are hesitant to speak up. It is recommended Bellotto ask more strategic-based questions during board meetings, yet it is worth noting that Bellotto has greatly participated in discussions around the table. It is also recommended that Bellotto participate more within the board’s internal committees, to enhance her understanding. As another first year member of the board, Bellotto seems to have a comfortable relationship with her fellow directors and often tries to bring a student perspective to the table.
Shannon Kelly has been a strong asset to the board thus far in her first year as a director. At the board table, she is able to consistently ask articulate and critical questions that pertain to the board’s governance role. Kelly is not afraid to engage in conversation, likely aided by her familiarity with the function of the board through her role as board secretary last year. She has been heavily involved in committees, having been a member of both the Waterloo and Brantford Student Life Levy, Ownership Linkage and multiple direct inspection committees. Kelly is encouraged to continue to actively participate at the board table and to use her experience to help continue to transition her fellow first-time board members.
Ryan Price has been a good asset to the board through his active participation in the finance committee. However, he should display more confidence in his contributions and be more vocal during meetings. It has been noted that Price can take up too much time analyzing and often has limited input in certain situations. He is encouraged to spend more time getting involved with board discussions and making an effort to build relationships with other board members. Price should also make more of an effort to attend all meetings next semester, as his attendance has not been perfect.
Along with more than half of the board, Tarique Plummer is another first year director on the board. During the summer, Plummer was absent from the board’s summer meetings due to travel arrangements. During the fall term, Plummer was present at most of the meetings, yet he does not seem to be overly engaged in the discussions. While Plummer articulates his questions and holds most of his fellow directors accountable, he has taken on too many responsibilities outside of the board. Plummer is currently involved in numerous extracurricular activities and seems to not prioritize his involvement with the board. While it is expected that a director participate in committees and organizations outside of the boardroom, Plummer should become more committed to his role as a member of the board. When he is present at meetings, he asks well researched and articulate questions that would be beneficial for all board meetings, had he had better attendance. Plummer is encouraged to have better attendance and prioritize his numerous commitments more efficiently.
A veteran of the board, Jonathan Ricci has been able to use his experience to begin the year with a clear understanding of his role and that of the board. This has allowed him to confidently engage in table discussions and ask relevant questions from the start of his term. Ricci comments on almost all topics and is great at starting a conversation. He also appears to have well versed knowledge of student life outside of the board. Ricci has, however, not participated in any internal committees, leaving them to be run by directors in their first terms who could have benefitted from his experience. Ricci should better utilize his accumulated knowledge of the board and governance to help transition his fellow directors and work to engage and socialize with the newer board members.
As a first time board member, Hubert Lee has been singled out for his active participation in board meetings. He has been pointed out for asking critical questions and is never afraid to speak up. He has been present for all meetings, except for one regret over the summer. He is critical of other members of the board, which shows that he understands the importance of holding others accountable. It has also been noted that his knowledge and confidence in the role is constantly improving. He also understands the difference between personal and professional relationships, as fellow director Shannon Kelly is his good friend, but that has never influenced their decorum at the table. Moving forward, Lee is encouraged to continue asking critical questions and consider how his positive addition to the board can be utilized in other areas of the Students’ Union or the Laurier community.