Before joining the board of directors for ETC, I had never served on a board before. My participation in the Leadership Arlington program opened my eyes to the inner workings of nonprofit organizations, and sparked an interest in me to become involved at some level beyond participating in volunteer activities.
I moved to Arlington in 1994, knowing very little about the area. My husband and I raised two children here, both of whom attended McKinley Elementary School. Before my kids even started school, my neighbor invited me to see a play her daughter was in at McKinley, “Rainbow Fish.” It was fun to take my toddlers there to see their neighbor on the stage, and that started their fascination with theater. ETC guided students at McKinley through a creative process, developing a script and lyrics for songs based on a book or story. My kids participated in several ETC plays throughout their time at McKinley, as well as ETC Summer programs. ETC founders, Stan and Elizabeth would often attend and introduce the play, so they became familiar faces to me and we encountered each other years later when our children were in high school together at HB Woodlawn.
I learned that ETC was looking for board members, and expressed an interest to Stan and Elizabeth one evening while we sat together at the HB Cabaret event (of course our children were performers!). I was invited by board member Liz Albro to meet for a discussion to learn more about ETC, and about the role the board plays in its operation. It was an easy decision to apply to join the board, and an easy process. I submitted my resume, and was voted in as a member in the spring of 2019.
Board Structure and Activities
As a member of the Board, we help ETC live out its mission: To unlock the potential of children and adults through immersion in the arts.
Being an ETC Board Member is a personal and professional development opportunity that allows members to support a local organization giving back to the Arlington and Metro DC area community.
The ETC Board of directors plays an advisory role, and is technically the governing body of the nonprofit. The members of the board focus on the high-level strategy, oversight, and accountability.
Nonprofits are required to have a board of directors. The board members’ wealth of knowledge and experience can be invaluable to the organization. Board members are also necessary for essential tasks like applying for bank accounts, filing annual reports, and making important purchases.
Additionally, they act as the guiding voice for large decisions like approving annual budgets, borrowing money, and setting plans for major growth or reorganization.
The ETC Board is composed of local community members, parents, and advocates for arts/theatre programming. The board adheres to best practices for board processes and organization.
There are 3 board officers: President, Treasurer and Secretary. Members serve for a minimum of 2 years.
There are four essential responsibilities of nonprofit boards of directors: board meeting attendance, legal and fiduciary responsibilities, executive compensation decisions, and committee service.
The ETC Board of Directors meets quarterly. All board members also serve on at least one committee that meets between each full board meeting. Board members agree to attend a minimum of 3 full Board Meetings per year.
Since COVID began in March 2020, we have been conducting the board meetings on Zoom. These meetings are helpful in getting caught up on all the ETC is doing, as well as having discussions about challenges and opportunities.
The meetings begin with an overview by the Managing Director, Ashley Hammond. We learn about enrollments in programs, plans for new programming and any issues that the board may be able to help with.
Legal & Fiduciary Responsibilities
The board is the legal governing body of the nonprofit. The ETC board occasionally needs to make some legal decisions, and needs to be aware of all of the legal requirements that apply to the organization and oversee that those requirements are met.
As the governing entity of ETC, the board of directors also sets the compensation of the executive director to ensure everything is fair and there’s oversight on the matter.
In addition to the quarterly board meeting, each committee meets on their own once per quarter prior to the board meeting, and then presents an update on their activities to the whole board.
Over the last 1-2 years, the ETC Board has been helping to craft a strategic plan, which covers many areas of growth for the organization. One element we have focused on as a board, in response to the engagement of Ashely Hammond and the Development Director, Katie McCreary, is ETC’s position and action toward equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI). The strategic plan identifies specific EDI goals for programming, staffing, and board membership. It has been a very thoughtful process, and the board’s participation was helpful in checking it over, and adding ideas and language.
ETC Board Member Commitments
Board members are asked to participate in fundraising activities as follows:
Give personal donations at the highest level possible. There is no set amount of money you must raise. Board members are asked to make a good faith effort to support the fundraising goals of ETC.
When possible, share names of prospective donors, friends and family as appropriate, for fundraising activities
Spread the word about ETC with colleagues and friends in conversation and on social media
Help plan, organize, and participate in fundraising events
Identify and establish contacts with potential corporate and foundation donors
Identify sources of in-kind contributions
Send letters/requests/personal notes on fundraising appeals to friends
Help advance ETC’s commitment to EDI work, as outlined above
New Board Members for 2022
We are pleased to welcome 3 new members to the ETC Board this year!
Tonya Murphy is a counselor and a military spouse who has seen how the arts can help foster a sense of belonging, a benefit she has witnessed for her own three sons as they have moved over the years.
Elena Velasco is a theatre artist whose work focuses on heightened and visual text, grounded in visceral, physical expression. She has extensive experience in local theatre in the DC area, and is the former Teaching Artist and Director of Outreach for ETC, and is currently an Assistant Professor of Theatre at Bowie State University.
Samantha Foti is a long time supporter of ETC. In addition to teaching in the after school program and working as a stage manager for ETC’s school residency productions, Samantha helped start and lead ETC Beginnings - ETC's first preschool drama program. Samantha has also been a preschool teacher at Temple Rodef Shalom Nursery school for 13 years.
Overall, the ETC Board helps ensure that ETC has the support it needs as a nonprofit organization, to continue to serve the community and operate successfully.