Preston Calvert, MD
Describe the NANOS Board using 3 words. Friendly, Diverse, Effective
Tell us about your journey to the NANOS Board in 3 sentences. I started the NANOSNET email list on my own in 1994, having realized the value of an international case discussion list for neuro-ophthalmologists. This led to an appointment by Jack Selhorst to chair the new Internet Committee, whose next project was the first NANOS Web site, which I hand-coded in HTML with a little help from Todd Troost. I then implemented committee email lists using the same Listserv software for all NANOS committees with Jack Selhorst’s backing, and that led to my first nomination to the NANOS Executive Board.
What did you enjoy most about your Board service? I have enjoyed the process of attempting to reach consensus on major issues facing the Board, which requires flexibility from Board members as they gradually acquiesce to a commonly accepted solution to a question or problem. This requires each Board member to participate in an “egoless” fashion, to achieve a result that is the best decision this group of NANOS leaders can achieve. That is very satisfying when it works as it usually does.
Based on your experience, what advice about Board service would you give to a new member of the Board? My advice would be to prepare for each meeting carefully by reviewing the materials provided, and plan to listen to the discussion as your first contribution. Once you have begun to understand how the Board reaches decisions, it will be clear to you if and how to offer your opinion on a specific issue, if you have something valuable to contribute. Speaking up just to serve your own ego needs will be a mistake, as the Board functions as a fairly egoless group, and will listen to any input from a junior member, if it is offered sincerely and in a well-thought out fashion, but not just to hear yourself talk.
What do you wish you had known when you joined the Board but did not know? I did not know how approachable the senior members of the Board were, and that I would be regarded as a valued junior peer. Once I understood that, the experience became very enjoyable.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned about governance matters? As I mentioned earlier, the greatest value attaches to the process of achieving consensus on a matter before making a decision. Most decisions of the Board are unanimous or nearly so. If a significant split appears when a vote is called, it is probably better to table the matter for further discussion if possible, or continue discussion even at that time. It’s important that each Board member supports the collective decisions of the Board, and can explain the reasoning process to non-Board NANOS members with full support.
What do you feel was the most meaningful aspect/contribution/part of being on the NANOS Board? The most meaningful aspect has been watching the Society grow, and seeing junior members mature and begin to take over leadership roles. We grow our Society’s leaders pretty well with committee work, then Chairpersonship, and eventually Board service, and sometimes the Presidency of the Society. It is very gratifying to watch this process work, year after year.
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