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The Planet

PRESIDENT'S REPORT: by J. Robert Cox, Sierra Club President

The Sierra Club Board of Directors has taken a crucial step in the process of steering the Sierra Club toward financial sustainability and increased effectiveness. With the help of members and activists, we're continuing to address not only immediate budget needs, but the long-term need to streamline the Club's work throughout the organization.

The first phase of Project Renewal, the Club's restructuring effort, was approved by the Board at our recent September meeting in San Francisco. The Board moved to consolidate 63 volunteer committees into six Board Governance committees, created a new Council of Club Leaders, and initiated plans to expand activists' participation in our core conservation campaigns.

The new governance committees will help the Board operate with maximum efficiency. The six committees will oversee and plan for

  1. conservation,
  2. communication and education,
  3. finance,
  4. membership and development,
  5. organizational effectiveness and
  6. outdoor activities.

In order to "flatten" our decision-making structure and give grassroots leaders greater access to the Board, the new Council will meet with Directors in an annual joint session. Under the arrangement, chapters, regional coordinating committees and the Sierra Student Coalition will have the ability to address the Board directly about any policy or operation of the Sierra Club.

The Board authorized the creation of conservation strategy teams to coordinate the Clubs conservation work. Once fully established, the teams will work to expand opportunities for activists to participate. Activist networks would build on successful models for recruiting, training and involving volunteers in our conservation work.We also agreed the Club should continue working to meet our five global challenges -- preserving the wild planet, preventing pollution, stabilizing population, protecting the global commons, and creating an environmentally sustainable economy -- but that we would also need to focus our efforts and our message in order to maximize our effectiveness.

For the next five years, preserving the wild planet and preventing pollution will be the top-tier objectives of the national Club. Specific campaign priorities within all five broad issue areas will be set at the Board's December meeting, taking into account balloting of chapters, groups and the Sierra Student Coalition.

In light of some exaggerated press over the Board weekend, we issued a statement to announce our decisions and clarify that this new budget cuts 1995 expenditures $3.7 million below projections for 1994, chiefly by reducing administrative and service costs and focusing our agenda.

Project Renewal is not finished. Once the new governance committees are in place, they will be able to work with the Board to to review our elections, e-mail policies, staff-volunteer relations and other areas in order to boost the Club's finances and organizational effectiveness.

With your continued help and support, we can make the Club stronger and more financially stable.

SOURCE: Robbie Cox, published originally in Planet, November 1994
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