1 September 2016

The AGU Elections and You: Why Every Vote Matters

Posted by Carol Finn

Did you know that every 2 years, AGU members elect the people who will lead the organization for the next 4 or more years?  That process has launched for this cycle, and we want you to vote. You have until 27 September to cast your votes!

The leaders you elect play an essential role in decisions on how to advance Earth and space science both within and outside the scientific community, support AGU members in their scientific work and engage them in society work. They collaborate with committees, task forces, other vAGU-Leader-Election-green-e1462390080570olunteers and staff to advance AGU’s strategic plan.  They manage the overall health of the organization, including business affairs, financial matters, strategy, and governance; and they manager the scientific affairs of AGU, including science policy positions and other science-related ideas, and advising on science and member issues. They also serve as ambassadors for AGU and the broader scientific community. That’s why your vote is so important!

While I am constantly impressed with the dedication and passion displayed by AGU’s members, no time is that more apparent than during the election season. Between positions on the Board, Council, and section/focus group leadership, we have 110 candidates who have expressed their commitment to advancing AGU’s strategic plan and achieving our mission and vision.

You might be wondering: How are the candidates chosen?

Each section/focus group is responsible for selecting its president-elect and secretary candidates. For the open Board positions, the Governance Committee facilitates a discussion with the Board to determine the programs and projects for the next 3-5 years and invites current AGU leaders to nominate people they think would be good candidates. Potential candidates are asked to review AGU’s strategic plan, the job descriptionscode of conduct, and leadership criteria and apply to be considered for the position. Board candidate finalists are then interviewed by committee members. The goal is to ensure that newly elected and continuing members will collectively represent the broad scope and diversity of AGU’s global membership, including disciplinary, geographic, gender, career stage, ethnic, and racial diversity, and also bring skills and leadership experience needed to address the identified work plan. The Governance Committee undertakes a similar process for selecting student/early career candidates of the Council.

You might also be wondering: If it’s election season, why haven’t I seen signs posted or people campaigning on social media or via email?

AGU strives to ensure that the election process is fair for all of our candidates. Because they come from a variety of different backgrounds, and have access to a variety of different resources, setting clear and simple guidelines for promoting the election is critically important. For example, because some candidates might not be in a position to speak to the media while others might be more comfortable with it, we ask that all media interviews be referred to AGU to respond on behalf of the entire organization. We ask candidates for each position type (Board members, Council student/early career members, section/focus group president-elect, and section/focus group secretary) to answer a question developed by the Governance Committee – the same questions for each position – and then we post their responses to the Elections website. We do this so that members have an equitable basis for comparing the thoughts of candidates about how they would approach leadership at AGU.  We do ask our candidates to share their enthusiasm about AGU and the election with their friends and colleagues via email, social media, and a variety of other means and methods. However, to even the playing field, we ask them to focus their efforts on helping voters understand the process, the schedule, and the candidates running for each position, as opposed to campaigning solely for themselves. For example, instead of tweeting, “Vote for me!” our candidates say, “Get to know all of the candidates for this year’s AGU elections!” and “Please make sure to vote before the 27 September deadline!”

To ensure that AGU remains well-positioned to listen to members, understand the world and external factors impacting science, and deliver innovative products and services, we need committed and qualified leaders. Casting your ballot(s) is a great opportunity to make your voice heard. The polls are open through 27 September 2016, and I strongly encourage you to participate.

*It has come to our attention that a small percentage of members may not have received ballots for all the sections/focus groups to which they belong. This error has been corrected, and our election vendor is in the process of reaching out to anyone who voted prior to the issue being identified asking them to log back in and complete their remaining ballots (AGU hires a vendor to manage the online voting to help ensure confidentiality and to certify the accuracy of the results). We apologize for any inconvenience. If you have any questions about your ballots, please contact the Member Service Center: service@agu.org or +1-202-462-6900 (international calls)/+1-800-966-2481 (toll free for North America). If you have comments or questions, please let us know: AGU_Governance@agu.org.