After too many years in theological study and lots of consulting to some of the biggest faith-based institutions, I continue to have a morbid curiosity if not fascination with the goings and particular failings of these bodies, hence my second blog this week on another faith-based institution with leadership struggles. The subject is the Religion News Service, an institution whose name says it all. Special note: the Religion News Service is a subsidiary of the Religion News Foundation. The Service has a board that I understand includes members of the Foundation but I am not 100% clear.
Anyway, since April 2018 (officially) all kinds of unsettling stuff from an HR perspective has been happening at the News Service - you know, firings and the like. You can learn more by reviewing this New Republic story on the matter. Well, today I read in the Get Religion blog about one of the next steps happening over at the News Service. Apparently a 19 member Advisory Board has been appointed to oversee the organization. All the appointees are pretty well-respected individuals with their feet (and heads) at the top of the content chain.
The Get Religion blog focused primarily on the "why" the selected members and what type of orientation or skill was absent. But I would point out equally importantly that this concept of an Advisory Board, is in my opinion, not the optimal approach to achieving governance. Bottom line: Advisory "boards" have no authority, at least by name, and do not, in the end, have fiduciary responsibility. An Advisory Board does not "forgive" the responsibility of a governing board. Helpful in advising? Sure. Governing, no!
If the Foundation is seeking to improve the Service's governing by placing folks who can govern with oversight, they have failed to do with this 19-member group. And that of course raises the additional question: can 19 people govern well? Maybe is of course the answer.