Invitation for Nominees of the 2020 AAVSO Board of Directors

AAVSO’s nominating committee is seeking candidates to run for our Board of Directors. This year, four positions are open. Below are detailed descriptions of Directors’ roles and responsibilities along with an online application form. More information is provided in the AAVSO Bylaws, which prospective candidates are advised to read before applying. Individuals interested in serving on the Board should self-nominate. They may do so at any time between now and July 31, 2020 by filling out the nomination form. Incomplete nomination forms will not be considered. A slate of candidates will be announced in September, and voting will begin shortly thereafter. Results will be announced at our Fall Meeting.

As with most boards, the skills required of a good board member are more in tune with managing the organization than with participating in the organization. The AAVSO is interested in attracting candidates with skills in management, grant proposal writing, law, fundraising, and finance (investment). Prospective candidates must commit the time and energy it takes to be a productive Board member, typically 5-15 hours per month. The Board has two face-to-face meetings each year. There are also two planned online video meetings each year, spaced between the face-to-face meetings. In unusual circumstances, additional video meetings may be called. Directors who are assigned to committees will typically need to attend additional video conferencing meetings.

Board members with the necessary skills, interests, and Bylaw-mandated experience should be prepared to consider standing for election by the Board to the office of President, Vice President, Secretary, or Treasurer, which have even greater responsibilities and require greater time commitments.


(From: Ten basic responsibilities of nonprofit boards / Richard T. Ingram.—2nd ed. © 2009 BoardSource)

“Although governing boards have the responsibilities discussed in this book because they have the legal authority to exercise them as their organization's "fiduciaries," their individual members don't. Indeed, while individual board members possess considerably different yet complementary responsibilities to those held by the board, they do not possess the board's legal authority (except when the board specifically authorizes its officers or other members to have certain and limited authority to act on its behalf). Clearly articulating the board's corporate responsibilities and authority (preferably in the bylaws) and the responsibilities and expectations of board members (preferably codified as a separate policy statement), are best practices. Asking leading peer organizations with missions similar to your own for copies of what they have developed can be helpful to developing your own versions. Alternatively, use the sample below as a framework to write your own statement of individual board member commitment and responsibilities. A clear statement of individual board member responsibilities adapted to the organization's mission and needs will serve at least two purposes. First, when recruiting new board members, it helps to clarify what the organization expects before candidates accept the invitation to be nominated. Also, such a statement can provide criteria by which the governance committee identifies and recruits prospective nominees and reviews the performance of incumbents eligible for re-election or reappointment. Prospective and incumbent board members should commit themselves to these illustrations of generally accepted responsibilities.

Know the organization's mission, purpose, goals, policies, programs, services, strengths, and needs. Serve in leadership positions and undertake special assignments willingly and enthusiastically.

Avoid prejudiced judgments on the basis of information received from individuals; urge staff members with grievances to follow established policies and procedures through their supervisors. All significant matters coming to you should be called to the attention of the chief executive and/or the board's elected leader as appropriate. Follow trends in the organization's field of interest and keep informed. Bring goodwill and a sense of humor to the board's deliberations. Suggest to the appropriate committee possible nominees for board membership who are clearly women and men of achievement and distinction and would make significant contributions to the board and organization.


Prepare for and conscientiously participate in board and committee meetings, including appropriate organizational activities when possible. Ask timely and substantive questions at board and committee meetings, consistent with your conscience and convictions, while supporting the majority decision on issues decided by the board. Maintain confidentiality of the board's executive sessions and when confidential information is given to you. Never speak for the board or organization unless authorized to do so, but also remember that all utterances from board members carry great weight with those within and outside of the organization. Private opinion on any matter is often construed by others as the board's official posture whether it really is or isn't. Suggest board and committee meeting agenda items occasionally to board leaders and the chief executive to ensure that significant, policy-related and strategic matters are discussed.


Counsel the chief executive as appropriate, providing support through often difficult relationships with groups or individuals. Avoid asking the staff for favors, including special requests for extensive information that may take extraordinary time to gather and are not part of ongoing board or committee work — unless you have consulted with the chief executive, board chair, or appropriate committee chair. Remember that it is most appropriately the chief executive who is responsible for assessing staff performance, not board members or the board. Most chief executives, however, welcome comments or opinions, offered during private conversations, that are complimentary or constructively critical of a senior officer.


Serve the organization as a whole rather than any special interest group or constituency. Even if you were invited to fill a vacancy reserved for a certain constituency or organization, your first obligation is to avoid any preconception that you "represent" anything other than the overall organization's best interests. Avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest that might embarrass the board or the organization; disclose any possible conflicts to the board in a timely fashion. Maintain independence and objectivity and do what a sense of fairness, ethics, and personal integrity dictate, even though not necessarily obliged to do so by law, regulation, or custom. Never accept (or offer) favors or gifts from (or to) anyone who does business with the organization.

At all times, exercise prudence with the board in the control and transfer of funds. Faithfully read and understand the organization's financial statements and otherwise help the board fulfill its fiduciary responsibility.


Give an unrestricted annual gift and restricted program or project support in line with your particular interests and personal means. Always do your best to set an example for other board members. Remember, giving one's time and expertise, as important as they are, are not substitutes for providing financial support according to one's capacity. As one experienced and exemplary director candidly said, "Nonprofit organizations need money, and money simply has to come from those who have it. If board members don't support their own organization, why should anyone else?" Assist the development committee and staff by helping to identify potential givers and implement fundraising strategies through personal influence where you have it (corporations, individuals, foundations).


Serve your organization responsibly and diligently by telling the organization's story and presenting its accomplishments as well as its needs and current challenges. You are your organization's logo. Represent, as well, your community to your organization. Bring back concerns, ideas, suggestions, compliments, and the like when you believe they may have merit. Remember, as a board member, you are at the nexus of two-way communication.”


Prospective AAVSO Board of Directors candidates are encouraged to complete the online questionnaire.

The following table shows the skills background of the current Board members who will continue next year.

Professional Astronomy – actively involved with AAVSO or Observing Campaigns




Amateur Astronomy – actively involved with AAVSO





General Management Experience – includes organization management, HR, finances, project management



Financial Management Experience – includes Profit/Loss responsibility, investment knowledge




Fundraising Experience – includes participating in and/or managing major fundraising efforts, or success in applying for grants and contracts (e.g. with NASA, NSF, others)

  (X) X   (X)
X X X    
X   X   X
X X      
  X X X  
  X X X X
  X X    
  X X X  

X => experienced; (X) => some experience or previous experience

If you have questions, please either email, or Nancy Morrison at

Thank you.


Gordon Myers, Stella Kafka, Nancy Morrison, Phil Sullivan, and Shawn Dvorak

The AAVSO Board of Directors Nomination Committee