Council Chair Job Description & Key Responsibilities
The council chair is the chief executive officer of the council. This volunteer is responsible for the general and active management of the business and affairs of the council. The council chair presides at all membership meetings and should supervise the operations of the council and all of its chapters, making sure that the various officers and directors are performing their jobs properly and offering them assistance whenever necessary. In this position, a team approach and delegative nature have been found to be most effective in ensuring the long-term sustainability and health of a council.
The council chair is expected to review and understand the organization’s bylaws, policies and procedures, financial and legal situation, and strategic plan. The chair, working closely with the council treasurer, is responsible for key financial reporting and controls for the council, including filing the Annual Financial Report within 45 days of the close of the fiscal year, ensuring that state and local filing / registration requirements are met, that the relevant IRS Form 990s have been filed, and that proper financial controls are in place. The chair should also ensure that all of the chapters in the state are in compliance with filing deadlines, risk management requirements, and are in good overall health.
The chair acts as a spokesperson for the chapters in the state and plays a very important role coordinating and collaborating with TU staff. The chair may be asked to arbitrate chapter or council-level conflicts.
An effective TU council chair is a good administrator, because many of his or her responsibilities will be overseeing the work of council committees, coordinating their activities and assisting them with various special projects from time to time. Anyone taking on this role should have demonstrated leadership skills, feel comfortable delegating, have good group dynamic skills and have the ability to communicate well, listen and seek input from others.
Key Council Chair Responsibilities
This simple checklist is intended to help new council chairs understand the key functions of the role, but please keep in mind that every council is different, so it’s critical to cater a comprehensive checklist to those realities.
Leadership, Vision & Planning
- When first taking over, confer with the outgoing chair to ask for lessons learned and a position description (example position description).
- Develop and implement the council’s strategic plan – often chairs the strategic planning committee while serving as vice chair prior to election as council chair.
- Plan, preside over, and facilitate board and executive committee meetings.
- With the executive committee, prepare an agenda for each council meeting and distribute it out to the council, with associated reading materials such as the past meeting’s minutes, well in advance of each meeting.
- Consider rotating the location of your council meetings and also consider teleconferencing options for interim meetings.
- Appoint committee chairs and serve ex-officio on committees. Good council level committees might include:
- Youth Education
- Assist the nominating committee in recruiting council leadership and aid in new council leader orientations.
- Identify and groom your replacement in the vice chair position.
- Periodically consult with council leaders and chapter presidents on their roles, help them assess their performance, and plan for leadership development and succession. Mentor and train your council vice chair.
Administrative & Legal
- Ensure the outgoing council chair lists you as the chair in the Leaders Only Tools section of tu.org.
- Update your council’s information and the list of council leaders.
- Review documents and data stored there such as:
- Past Annual Financial Reports for the council and its chapters
- Your council (and chapter’s) strategic plans and bylaws
- A list of leaders at the chapter level
- Ensure that elections are carried out regularly in accordance with the council’s bylaws.
- Ensure that board resolutions are carried out.
Financial & Fundraising
- Make sure the signatories on the chapter bank account are current and that bank electronic funds transfer information is on file with TU national for delivery of the rebate.
- With the chapter treasurer, ensure the timely filing of the Annual Financial Report, required IRS Forms and subsequent financial controls for financial management and reporting. Support chapters in doing the same.
- Read and become familiar with the 2015 Policy on Financial and Property Controls and TU’s risk management and insurance limitations and ensure the council and it’s chapters are in compliance.
- Ensure the council is meeting all state-level legal and fiduciary reporting/ registration requirements.
- Ensure donations to your council are properly acknowledged.
- With the Executive Committee, develop, approve and track a budget of council expenses and revenues each fiscal year.
- Establish a diverse fundraising strategy for the council in coordination with chapters and local staff that might include things like: a year-end appeal letter, an annual banquet, merchandise sales, or an online crowdfunding campaign.
Assisting & Supporting Chapters
- Provide recommendations for chapter rechartering and dechartering to TU as required.
- Work with your chapters to help them complete the Chapter Effectiveness Index (CEI) which is filed in the Leaders Only Tools section within 45 days of the close of the fiscal year.
- Review outcomes and metrics created by the CEI for evaluating chapter effectiveness.
- When appropriate, provide recommendations for formation of new chapters and/or reassignment of zip codes among existing chapters.
- If appropriate, coordinate conservation projects between chapters (e.g. if a small or urban chapter needs a project, match them up with another chapter with an existing project.)
- Serve as an arbitrator if conflicts at the chapter-level arise.
- Organize a chapter support plan that includes opportunities for chapter leaders to learn and grow in their leadership while interfacing with the council.
State Level Communications
- Oversee council communications efforts to members in the state and ensure the delivery of your communications comes through multiple channels (newsletter, e-newsletter, social media, website, etc…)
- Communicate with chapter and council volunteer leaders in your state on a regular basis. Consider setting up an e-mail listserv and remember to use the tools available to you in the Leaders Only Tools section of tu.org to identify and keep up to date the leaders lists in your state.
- Serve as the main point of contact for state-based staff and coordinate communications and activities between the grassroots and staff.
- Read the monthly publication Lines to Leaders and stay abreast of important updates from national staff and share with other leaders in the state.
- Ensure that important information is conveyed from the NLC and TU staff to all TU chapters in the state, and vice versa, that important information from grassroots and chapters is communicated to TU at the national level.
- Participate in bi-annual council chair phone conferences organized by TU staff.
- Develop and manage relationships and communicate with partners, the media and other stakeholders.
- Serve as the spokesperson for the council at public gatherings and hearings.
- If council funds are available, attend the TU regional rendezvous held in your area each spring and the TU annual meeting.
Conservation & Advocacy
- Organize and serve on a conservation committee of the council to implement the conservation goals identified in the council strategic plan.
- Represent members in the state with a coordinated advocacy initiative in the state capital. Work with state-based staff, where applicable, or TU Volunteer Operations staff to help coordinate this work with other TU entities.