Posted by: alexswallow | February 25, 2014

Involving Youth in Governance: The International Young Governors’ Summit

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This is a guest post by Lindsay Falt.

What is a young governors’ summit?

This was the question I asked myself before attending the first International Young Governors’ Summit (IYGS), held in Toronto, Canada. Even after doing some research I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but it sounded interesting and my fellow board members seemed to think it was a good idea, so I enthusiastically signed up.

I soon found out that it was a kind of “how to” for serving on a Board of Directors and for getting involved in the first place. It was an opportunity to hear about the experiences of young people in governance, as well as from the more experienced board members of the International Policy Governance Association (IPGA); with whom the organizers of the summit had paired.

Having begun to serve on a not-for-profit board as a result of a suggestion by a former employer, I took for granted the accessibility of such a fulfilling experience. After the first day of the International Young Governor’s Summit, I came away with two very important realizations:

  1. There are groups solely dedicated to helping improve the functioning of board governance. By attending only a few lectures I was able to learn important information about effective leadership that actually got me more excited about contributing to my organization.
  2. Many young people are not aware of the plethora of opportunities to serve on a Board of Directors. Many others shared the bad experiences they’d had when attempting to do so in the past.

Clearly there was a need for more information on how to govern effectively, but more importantly, on how to find the right fit! And so I networked.

IPGA is group of practitioners and researchers who promote advanced governance systems in order to achieve highly functioning boards. Their partnership meant that we all also got to attend some of the amazingly informative lectures from some pioneers in the world of governance (and specifically policy governance).For me, their presence also meant that I got to network with experienced board members who had some really great insights on governance and the role of youth in it. By speaking with them I learned a few surprising tidbits.

Board members of many organizations are often experienced members of the business community, so board members who are under 35 are considered to be comparatively very young. Many Boards are looking to diversify and include youth, but they need to see a demonstrated commitment to governance, as well as to the organization in question.

Learning about governance, developing governing skills, and starting in the right organizations are all first steps toward finding your place in the (surprisingly exciting) world of governance; a world that needs more young voices- so get involved!

*For a full report on the 2013 IYGS CLICK HERE

Join us at the next IYGS 19th – 21st June 2014, Minneapolis, USA: More information

Follow the IYGS on Twitter! @YoungGovSummit

Lindsay Falt sits on the Board of Directors for the International Association of Business Communicators- Toronto Chapter (IABC/Toronto), volunteers with the Young Director’s Institute in Toronto, and is chairing the upcoming 2014 International Young Governors’ Summit in Minneapolis. She is also currently working on her Master of Arts in Communications with a special interest in cross-cultural communication and is researching communication practices of NGOs. 

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