Board Nominations are Live!
by Whitney “Allgood” LaRuffa, President
Have you ever thought about wanting to give back to the hiking community?
Do you want to make an impact in ALDHA-West’s Future?
Do you want to get to know a great group of volunteers better and make lasting friendships as a result?
If you answered YES to any of these questions, then you should consider serving on the Board of ALDHA-West.
I can remember my first time attending an ALDHA-West gathering in 2009, it was my first time attending an event, and I was already being asked if I was interested in being on the board, at the time I wasn’t. Over the years we would open nominations up at the beginning of the weekend, and people would nominate each other, often the nominees were reluctant but stepped up to ensure the organization kept going.
In 2015 we had about a dozen people who were nominated and ran for the board, it was one of those moments when I said to myself, “we are finally growing something people want to be a part of.” Frankly, it was one of my proudest moments serving as your President as it validated all the hard work we had been doing the past few years.
ALDHA-West Officers and Board of Directors as elected at the 2017 Gathering
With our recent change to a 501c3 non-profit education-based organization, we as a board decided it was time to finally make our nomination process more professional and clearer than just writing a friend’s name on a piece of paper, usually after a few refreshments on Saturday night. After much debate and discussion, the board decided to have an online nomination process that closes September 1 of this year, same as the Triple Crown application.
With this new online nomination format, our currently paid members have the opportunity to nominate themselves, or someone who they feel can serve the board in a meaningful way. It also allows the current board to talk with nominees about what serving the board entails regarding personal time and financial commitment. While some small stipends are provided for board members to travel from time to time for Rucks, the majority of the expenses of traveling to events such as the Gathering and the cost of admissions to such events are paid by board members personally.
This new process also allows the current board to evaluate how well a nominee will fit into the group, what skill set they bring to the table to help facilitate all the behind the scenes work we do, and also ensure we have time to vet out any potential conflicts of interest that may exist.
Once we close the nomination process and have an opportunity to meet with the nominees, we will be sending out an email to all of our members. This email will include a photo, bio, and some answers to questions we will have each nominee answer. This email will allow our members to have a better idea of who is running for each position before our election at the General Membership meeting at the Gathering.
Yes, elections are still taking place in person at the Gathering, so we can ensure that no Russian meddling is affecting our results.
This year we have some board members who have served us all well, but for personal reasons have decided they need a break and will not be seeking re-election at this time or they have term-limited out. The open positions this year include: Vice President, Treasurer, and 3 Board Members at Large. All positions serve a 2-year term, and descriptions of each position can be found here.
Now with all the technical things explained, let me tell you what serving on the board means to me.
Serving on the board has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my adult life. I have seen the hiking community and our organization grow to what it is today. The growth has been amazing, we have worked hard to make the Rucks a great place to introduce newcomers to long-distance hiking and help them get prepared for their hikes. The rucks also provide time in the winter to see old friends. We have also built a sense of community, and our demographics have shifted to where we now have members who attend annually ranging from their 20’s to their 80’s, and everyone genuinely gets along.
It’s also hard work, at times I ask myself, “why I am I doing this” and then I remember the look on someone’s face lighting up at the Gathering when they see a friend they hiked with years ago walk into the room. I also remember the goosebumps I get when we show the Triple Crown recipients’ video and the tears of joy that people have when receiving their award. I also feel such joy and gratitude each year when we recognize the Martin Papendick recipients for all their hard work as trail Angels helping numerous hikers over the years.
Mostly though, I think of all the wonderful people who have come into my life from serving together on the board. I feel like my family has grown leaps and bounds and I know some of the people I have worked with will be friends until the day I die.
Oh yeah, and we have plenty of fun too, like road trips to ID for Rucks, serving thru-hikers endless amounts of food at PCT Days, and laughing into the wee hours of the night at the annual board retreat.
I hope you will consider nominating yourself or a friend to the board so that we can continue to grow our organization into the future.