Soulardarity Mission Statement
Soulardarity is building energy democracy in Highland Park, MI and our neighboring communities with education, organizing, and people-powered clean energy. We are working to install solar-powered street lights, save residents money on energy bills and with our neighboring communities build a just and equitable energy system for all. Soulardarity is a membership-based 501(c)(3) non-profit. Our Board of Directors is elected by our members and must be a majority of Highland Park residents.
Current Board Members
- Nancy Gambrill, Board Chair (General Member Term Expires 2026)
- Ken Bates, Board Member (Highland Park Member Term Expires 2026)
- Michelle F. Jones, Board Member (Highland Park Member Term Expires 2025)
- Stacye Jones, Board Member (Highland Park Member Term Expires 2024)
- Kimberly McDade, Board Member (Highland Park Member Term Expires 2025)
- Camille Sippel, Board Member (General Member Term Expires 2026)
- Jeana Tall, Board Member (General Member Term Expires 2026)
Every year, the Soulardarity community comes together at an Annual Meeting to collectively affirm our values, celebrate our accomplishments and community, discuss our priorities and elect a governing Board of Directors. Current dues paying Soulardarity members vote in the Board of Directors Election and can run for a Board of Directors seat.
The Board of Directors will appoint from among the Directors a President, a Secretary, and a Treasurer. The Board of Directors may, in its own discretion, appoint from among the Directors a Vice President. The Officers of the Corporation shall serve for one year. Officers may serve any number of consecutive terms.
Board of Directors Member Qualifications
Board of Directors members are expected to be passionate about the mission, able to regularly attend meetings, and devote enough time to complete the additional tasks outside meetings that are important to their role. Board of Directors members are encouraged to be involved with Soulardarity in some way, such as: fundraise to achieve mission, attend membership meetings, volunteer at events, join and attend Action Group meetings, etc.
Board of Directors members must be current in their annual membership dues. The Board of Directors has a minimum of five and maximum of seven members, and there must always be a majority of Highland Park residents on the Board of Directors than non-Highland Park residents.
Our Board of Directors is democratically elected by the members through Rank Choice voting methods. Board of Directors members serve a three (3) year term, with a rotating election cycle so that three (3) new members are elected each year. The majority of the Board of Directors members must be from the Highland Park membership (current Highland Park residents). Vacancies may be filled by Board of Directors appointment, with those seats to be included in the next election cycle. Board of Directors members may serve up to two (2) consecutive terms; six (6) years in total, and are able to run again after a full term of three (3) years has passed.
Board of Directors Meetings
Soulardarity's Board of Directors meet bi-monthly, currently the third Tuesday of the month, from 5:30pm - 7:30pm. The Executive Director also attends the meetings and makes many of the updates. Meetings generally occur virtually via Zoom and occasionally in-person.
Before each meeting, the Board of Directors President prepares an agenda for items that need to be discussed. Other Board of Directors Officers may need to prepare reports that are to be discussed. Items on the agenda consist of updates about the organization, such as: new initiatives, budgets, policy governance reports, staffing updates, media mentions, etc.
Board of Directors Role and Scope of Authority
The Board of Directors is the governing body of Soulardarity. It is elected by, and accountable to, the membership. Any member of Soulardarity whose dues are current is eligible to run for a Board of Directors position and to vote in the annual election.
At a minimum, the Board of Directors:
- Hires, supervises, supports and evaluates the Executive Director;
- Approves program priorities;
- Approves and monitors the annual budget;
- Monitors compliance with Soulardarity’s Policy Governance process and requirements;
- Assures Soulardarity operates in accordance with its bylaws and with all applicable legal requirements.
The Board of Directors does not get involved in administration and daily operations of the organization’s programs and management, but rather has delegated those responsibilities to the Executive Director.
Board of Directors Time Commitment
- Board of Directors members are elected for three year terms.
- The Board of Directors meets at least once every other month (bimonthly), usually for 1.5 - 2 hours. Board of Directors members choose the date, time and place of each meeting (in-person or virtual).
- Board of Directors members also join the staff in an annual planning retreat, usually held in the fall.
- Officers of the Board of Directors (Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer and Secretary) are elected by the Board of Directors members and form the Executive Committee, which meets more frequently and are authorized to make a range of decisions on behalf of the full Board of Directors between regularly scheduled meetings.
- Before each meeting, the Board Chair prepares an agenda for items that need to be discussed. Other Board Officers may need to prepare reports that are to be discussed. Items on the agenda consist of updates about the organizations, such as; new initiatives, budgets, policy governance reports, staffing updates, media mentions, etc.
- Board of Directors members are expected to remain involved in Soulardarity’s programs aside from their Board of Directors service, in part to assure that they keep their finger on the pulse of the organization.
Soulardarity’s Organizing Model
Our organizational structures center democracy and strive to build in Soulardarity the collective capacity for self-governance and self-determination. A large portion of our work is collaborative with other environmental justice organizations and promotes just policy through direct advocacy and pressure campaigns aimed at local or state legislation. At every stage of organizing, ideas, and proposals are reviewed and approved by Soulardarity's members and partners. We rely strongly on digital communications, newsletters, and quarterly membership meetings to keep our members aware of educational events and calls to action related to our advocacy work. Our membership also provides valuable input by voting and electing the Board of Directors (7 members) and our policy governance. We are developing a plan to rapidly grow our membership to increase financial independence using relational organizing methods.
Members volunteer and lead our programs, elect our Board of Directors, and vote on organizational direction. Member led teams for various campaigns and projects guide decision-making in those areas.
Soulardarity’s Executive Director and Staff coordinate the plans and actions that are directed by our Board of Directors and supported by our members.
The Board governs Soulardarity, advises, holds staff accountable, and represents the members to ensure that the organization is advancing its mission in compliance with the law and membership priorities. This is achieved through the creation, interpretation, and monitoring of Policy Governance. At some Board of Directors meetings, the Executive Director presents updates on day-to-day operations or significant decisions and Board of Directors members, who are more removed from daily operations than the staff, give a second opinion and additional guidance on how Soulardarity can best further its mission and long-term success.
“Soulardarity's members are doing the crucial work of building community-owned power and energy democracy in Highland Park from the ground up. All of the board members are passionate, intelligent, and constructive individuals. Working with them together on this transformative work is a great joy and honor. Serving on the board is a great opportunity to support Soulardarity's work and gain experience with strategic governance.”
-Paul Chander, 2017 Board Member
The 2017 Soulardarity Board
From left to right, top to bottom: Board Members Reggie Flowers, Frankie Davis, Sharmaine Robinson, Juan Shannon, Paul Chander, Margaret Lewis, Bridgett Townsend, Christine Cowan and Executive Director Jackson Koeppel