Special Election to Fill AGU Board Vacancy Begins 16 February


Editor’s Note: This post first appeared in Eos.org

With Susan Avery’s recent resignation, the AGU Board has a vacant position to fill. The Governance Committee would like to take this opportunity to help AGU members better understand the process the committee follows to identify, vet, and select Board candidates. In this article, committee members will also explain their recommendation of Lisa Graumlich to fill the vacancy.

Membership Vote

The AGU bylaws state that a vacancy on the AGU Board will be filled by a vote of the members (Article V. Board, Section 6. Vacancies). The Governance Committee invites you to renew your AGU membership now so that you receive voting credentials from our election vendor, Survey and Ballot Systems. The polls will open on 16 February 2017 and stay open for 2 weeks. If you have any questions or do not receive a ballot, please contact the AGU Member Services Center by emailing [email protected] or by calling +1-202-462-6900 (international calls) or +1-800-966-2481 (toll free for North America). AGU Member Services are available Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Leadership Now and in the Future

The Governance Committee is charged with ensuring that AGU has the leaders needed to accomplish its mission and vision. The committee works year-round to help identify and develop volunteer leaders at multiple levels of the organization, as well as to nominate a slate of candidates for AGU’s election every other year. The last AGU election took place in 2016, and 21.13% of eligible voters participated, almost 5% more than participated in the 2014 election. The Governance Committee received 5864 comments from 2016 voters, greater than double the previous record of 2619 comments in 2012. Voter satisfaction remained high, with 91.1% of voters saying they were satisfied or very satisfied with the voting process.

Nomination Process

Voting is only part of the process of selecting capable leaders, however. Identifying potential Board candidates starts about a year before the election and involves many people throughout AGU. The nomination processes continually evolve to meet current and future needs. There are also AGU guidelines to ensure leadership continuity and diversity. The high-level steps currently taken by the Governance Committee in an AGU election are the following:

  • Answers the following questions in consultation with the AGU Board: Who is rotating off the Board at the end of the term, and who is continuing? What topics are likely to be on the Board’s agenda during the next 3 to 5 years, and what skills and experience would be helpful for the discussion? What other diversity and perspectives are missing from continuing Board members (AGU’s current diversity guidelines include gender, geography, career stage, science, etc.)?
  • Sets criteria for Board candidates.
  • Asks current AGU leaders to help identify potential Board members. The Governance Committee is always looking for talent and sets the expectation that other AGU leaders will also be on the lookout.
  • Reviews the nominees and does a high-level assessment of how well they meet the criteria. The goal is not to eliminate people but to invite as many as possible into the process while also being cognizant of the time involved.
  • Invites potential candidates to apply to be on the AGU Board. Those interested are asked to read AGU’s strategic plan and the job description before answering questions set by the Governance Committee and submitting their CVs. An election fact sheet provided to the candidates includes guiding principles, a code of conduct, and links to AGU governance documents.
  • Reviews all applicants, and selects those who best meet the criteria to be interviewed by the Governance Committee. Again, questions are set and asked of all candidates to help with the final selection.
  • Makes final selections and pairings for the ballot, after interviews are completed. AGU follows a paired-slate guideline, which allows the committee to ensure certain skills or demographic needs get addressed while also providing voters a choice. For example, two early-career members got paired in the 2014 election, ensuring an early-career member would get elected to the Board in response to the criteria set.

One of the pairings for the 2016 election ensured that someone with executive-level professional experience and previous board experience would be elected. The pairing brought together Susan Avery and Lisa Graumlich, both of whom were highly ranked in the vetting process and popular with voters. Each received more than 3000 votes among 6994 cast for that Board seat.


Because the 2016 AGU Election took place just 4 months ago and both candidates were highly qualified and well received by voters, the Governance Committee recommends presenting Lisa Graumlich as the candidate for the vacated Board position and asks all current AGU members to vote to confirm. Graumlich’s bio, CV, and her answer to the question posed by the Governance Committee have been reposted at elections.agu.org for voters to review. AGU legal counsel reviewed this recommendation, which is supported by the AGU Executive Committee. The Governance Committee requests your support in filling the vacancy quickly with an exceptional candidate.

Situations such as a resignation allow us to reflect on the current state of our organization. AGU governance and leadership are stronger and deeper than ever. The Governance Committee will continue to learn and improve policies and processes as they work to fulfill their charge of developing leaders for the future.

Watch for an Email, or Join Now

Eligible voters will be sent an email with a link to the voting site by Survey and Ballot Systems. The email will come from [email protected]. The election will remain open for 2 weeks, closing on 2 March 2017. If you have not yet renewed your AGU membership for 2017 and would like to vote, please renew now and ask for voting credentials.

Governance Committee

The Governance Committee is chaired by AGU’s past president, Margaret Leinen, who became chair on 1 January 2017, when Carol Finn rotated off the committee. Other members of the 2015–2016 Governance Committee are Julie Brigham-Grette, Hans Lechner, Catherine McCammon, and George Tsoflias.

Margaret Leinen (email: [email protected]), AGU past president; and Carol Finn, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, Colo.

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