Structural Reform of the PATC Council


In a major initiative, the PATC Council reformed its membership at the August Council meeting.  Council now has 29 members, down from 38.  The move, which was unanimously supported by Council members, will promote more efficient club management. The new Council membership was the result of careful review of each position and of consultation with affected members. The move only impacts the membership of Council, not the work of the club’s officers and committees. The Council action included the promulgation of procedures to determine who is on Council and measures to ensure the reforms continue into the future.  Council Members


Council RoomAt its August meeting, the PATC Council approved important changes to the club’s organization. Council identified its members and clarified their relationships.  Council established a procedure for documenting the positions on Council going forward.
An Organizational Structure Work Group (the Work Group) had worked for six months to develop a proposal, present it to ExCom, and then to Council for approval. The Work Group consisted of co-chairs Rush Williamson and Steve McLaughlin, as well as Glen Tsaparas and Janis Stone. The Work Group presented seven recommendations that were all adopted unanimously by ExCom and by Council with minor adjustments.  None of the recommendations required changes to the club’s Constitution or Bylaws.  

Under Virginia law, Council is our Board of Directors and is charged with providing broad policy direction of the Club. Council is currently comprised of the 12 elected Officers, Chapter and Section presidents, Standing Committee chairs, and Appointed Officers, who were designated as Council members upon their appointment.  The Constitution and Bylaws do not specify which committees are Standing Committees or which Appointed Officers should have a vote on Council.  Over time, there has been a tendency to expand the number of Council members by virtue of designating any new committees as Standing Committees, making all Appointed Officers members of Council irrespective of whether the role of those committees and officers were appropriate for the role Council plays in the Club’s governance, and often not distinguishing between the two. Club records also were unclear on the composition of Council.  As a result, there has been considerable confusion regarding how many positions are on Council and which Standing Committees chairs and Appointed Officers needed to be on Council.  

The Work Group surveyed all who were thought to be Council members and the committee chairs who were arguably on Council.  The respondents overwhelmingly felt that Council should be smaller to make it more manageable. Many felt that their own positions should not be on Council based on the relatively narrow focus or limited impact of those positions.

The Work Group developed a standard to determine which positions should be on Council and which should not. The Work Group focused on the representative nature of Council and suggested that a position on Council, and the vote that goes with it, should be based on what and whom the position represents.  The review by category was:

Elected Officers (members of ExCom):  The Constitution and Bylaws state that they are on Council and they are included on Council in our Articles of Incorporation.

Chapter and Section Presidents: The Constitution and Bylaws state that they are on Council and they are included on Council in our Articles of Incorporation. Given the lack of criteria for designating Chapters and Sections, in consultation with the representatives of those entities the following criteria were agreed upon. Each Chapter and Section would be required to: (1) have at least 20 members, (2) have an active program with at least six activities annually, (3) hold an election of the chapter or section president, (4) have a representative attend at least six Council meetings each year, and (5) comply with PATC policies and procedures.

Standing Committees: Much of the valuable work of the Club is done through committees. We have two types of committees: Standing and Special. Both are important for the Club to provide services to conduct the Club’s business and serve our members. The Articles of Incorporation contains a list of 18 positions on Council that are either Standing Committee chairs or Appointed Officers but did not specifically designate them by type. Neither the Constitution nor the Bylaws name any specific Standing Committees or Appointed Officers. Other Club documentation appeared to designate 17 of the positions as Standing Committees. The only formal distinction between a Standing Committee and a Special Committee is whether the chair of the committee sits on Council; that is reserved for Standing Committees.

It is important that we have on Council only those committees required for carrying out the work of Council. To help decide which committees Council should designate as Standing Committees, Council adopted the following criteria: (1) the committee should have a significant number of volunteers working for it under the committee, (2) the committee should be responsible for a significant part of the budget, or (3) the committee should be responsible for development and implementation of broad policy issues affecting large numbers of members. Further, Council approved a requirement that every Standing Committee have at least three members.
Council determined that the following committees met at least two of the criteria and should remain standing committees:

(1)    Cabin Operations
(2)    Conservation
(3)    Hikes
(4)    Information Technology
(5)    Shelters
(6)    Land Acquisition
(7)    Trail Patrol

The following committees did not meet at least two of the criteria and will be designated special committees:

(1)    Bears Den
(2)    Blackburn
(3)    Grants and Donations
(4)    Land Management
(5)    Maps
(6)    Potomac Appalachian Editor
(7)    Publications
(8)    Archivist  

Notably, all of the chairs of the newly designated special committees supported the proposal that their committees should not be part of Council. The eight committees above will join the pool of other Special Committees, such as Cabin Reservations, Cabin Construction, Elections, Endowment, Naturalist, Tuscarora Trail, among others, that are not members of Council.

Appointed Officers: Club interests are represented by several Appointed Officers who serve on external committees that promote the broader mission of the Club. Although Club documentation appeared to designate only one Appointed Officer (the General Counsel), Council determined that at least three other positions were not Standing Committees but were Appointed Officers as the committees they served on were external entities. These external entities do important work to preserve and protect trails in the mid-Atlantic region. ExCom determined that certain Appointed Officers should have a vote on Council in order to adequately represent the Club's interest to an important external entity.

Council agreed with the designation of the following positions as Appointed Officers that should have a vote on Council:

(1)    ATC Mid-Atlantic Partnership
(2)    AT Corridor Management
(3)    Maryland AT Management

To ensure that we have current documentation of the members of Council, the Work Group recommended that the President review and designate all committee chairs and Appointed Officer positions every two years coincident with the transition to the new ExCom.

The Work Group developed an organizational chart to represent the lines of communication, collaboration and liaison among elected officers and between elected officers and committees and appointed officers on Council.

ExCom will be responsible for implementation of the changes.  The club Secretary is the responsible officer for enforcement of the new provisions.

Council approved all the recommendations of the Work Group without objection.