SNA Explores Governance Changes


For more than a year, SNA’s leadership has been engaged in a “strategic realignment” process to ensure the organization’s resources and structure are aligned with the key priorities of its strategic plan. Following the development and approval of its new strategic plan in 2014, SNA leaders turned their attention to the infrastructure goal of the realignment process, focusing on what is needed to ensure a nimble governance model that would:

  • increase the effectiveness and efficiency of decision making and work systems;
  • increase the synergy of SNA and SNF; and
  • increase recruitment and development of future SNA leaders.

Work toward these objectives began with a deep-dive review and potential revision of the organization’s governance structure. It’s been nearly 20 years since the last time the Association engaged in such an undertaking. To reach the infrastructure objectives, SNA identified a number of strategies:

  1. evaluate and determine the use of committees and task forces;
  2. redefine the role of the House of Delegates in order to focus on the issues of school nutrition programs;
  3. evaluate and potentially reconfigure the structure of the SNA Board of Directors;
  4. evaluate criteria for executive leadership roles;
  5. reduce the time commitment of volunteers in order to maximize interest in SNA national leadership opportunities; and
  6. evaluate and propose a process for identifying, recruiting and developing SNA leaders, including reviewing the composition and role of the nominating committee.

In early January, 33 representatives of several stakeholder groups (including different member types, state and national leaders, industry, past presidents, allies and staff) gathered in Phoenix prior to SNA’s School Nutrition Industry Conference to reflect on the Association’s current governance structure and brainstorm potential changes. At the core of the group’s work was an awareness of certain fundamental realities about volunteer leadership today:

  • Changing demographics has had an impact on volunteer engagement at SNA and all across the country. Findings from a recent report showed volunteering is at a 10-year low, which has many nonprofit organizations worried.
  • The demands of new school nutrition regulations and other job priorities have had a negative impact on how much time volunteers can commit to this organization at the national, state and local levels.
  • The number of eligible candidates for SNA candidates has been on the decline in recent years. One reason is that school districts are restricting travel and professional development days; more members report having to take vacation days in order to attend SNA meetings and activities.
  • Currently, the time commitment for SNA’s top leadership positions is significant.
  • There have been many changes in nonprofit governance best practices in the last 20 years. These include smaller boards of directors, fewer standing committees and more ad hoc task forces and working groups.

Working in small groups, under the facilitation of association consultants Tecker and Associates, the participants brainstormed several potential new governance models and the larger group evaluated the pros and cons of each. The Summit participants kept in mind a desire for a governance model that would be inclusive, transparent, knowledge-based, proactive, nimble, strategic and collaborative. The collected feedback on all the models and Summit activities was used to develop an official proposal.

In February, SNA’s Executive Committee reviewed and revised the proposed model, which was endorsed, with minor modifications, by the full Board of Directors in early March at a special meeting held prior to SNA’s Legislative Action Conference. A number of working groups were established to identify any potential final changes. The next steps include presenting the details of this final proposed model to state leaders prior to the official presentation of formal bylaws amendments at the Association’s House of Delegates in Salt Lake City in July 2015.

SNA plans to inform and engage state leaders regarding the proposed governance changes in several ways, including web and magazine stories, a General Session presentation at the National Leadership Conference, a SNAC Chat webinar and a letter sent to members. In addition, a transition plan is being developed to allow a smooth and quick implementation upon approval of final bylaw amendments. Stay tuned to and the “About SNA” tab for future updates.

In addition, in another effort linked to SNA’s strategic focus, the Association has begun producing quarterly reports of its activities organized by the key objectives in its strategic plan. These reports demonstrate the many ways that SNA staff and volunteers are working toward the organization’s top priorities. The report is sent to the SNA Board of Directors and will be posted regularly with other strategic realignment updates on For the latest report, click here.

Related Link

PowerPoint slide of the diagram of stakeholder participants of the Governance Modeling Summit in January
Summit Report
SNA Strategic Plan Quarterly Report

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