In addition to regular board member responsibilities, there are a handful of officers that will take on additional leadership responsibilities – the president, secretary, and treasurer. Officers direct the operations of the board and play a central role in governance. They each have a specific role, and their responsibilities should be detailed in your organization’s bylaws.

The officers will be on the board’s executive committee, if you have one, and this committee may also include the executive director (ED) or CEO. Similar to having terms as board members, officers typically serve for a specified term, which should be specified in your bylaws, as well as if there are term limits (i.e. number of consecutive terms you can serve as an officer).

The president, or board chair, leads the board and, by extension, the organization. He/she will have these responsibilities:

  • Develop agendas for, and preside at, board meetings
  • Call and conduct meetings of the executive committee, if it exists
  • Work with the ED/CEO and senior leadership to ensure that board’s directives are carried out
  • Publicly represent the organization and speak on its behalf
  • Recommend board committees to be established, appoint committee members and chairs
  • Communicate with committee chairs to monitor the work being done, and identify information and recommendations that should be brought to the full board
  • Establish a search committee for hiring an ED/CEO
  • Oversee evaluation of the ED/CEO and the setting of executive compensation
  • Oversee recruitment and orientation of new board members

Large organizations may have a vice-president, or vice-chair, to act as the president in his/her absence, and to assist the president with his/her responsibilities. The president may delegate some responsibilities to the vice president, or assign special projects to him/her. The vice-president may be considered the successor to the president when his/her term ends.

The secretary is primarily responsible for record-keeping and will be responsible to:

  • Send notice of meetings to board members
  • Assist the president in preparing agendas for meetings
  • Take minutes at meetings
  • Review and distribute the approved minutes
  • Ensure the safety and accuracy of board records, such as meeting minutes and committee reports
  • Keep record of the organization’s activities
  • Ensure the organization acts in accordance with its bylaws
  • May assume the responsibilities of the president, if both the president and vice-president are absent

The treasurer is responsible for overseeing the organization’s finances. Depending on the size of the organization, he/she may be involved in day-to-day finance activities, or only provide leadership and oversight. The treasurer is expected to:

  • Chair the finance committee, if it exists
  • Keep track of the organization’s financial condition
  • Ensure sound financial management, and put controls and policies in place to protect the organization’s financial integrity
  • Provide financial reports and materials to the board on a regular basis
  • Oversee development of operating and capital budgets
  • Present budgets to the board for approval
  • Determine whether an audit is needed, recommend an auditor for the board to hire, review the results of the audit and tax forms, and present the latter to the board