Ally Theatre Company is proud to welcome our four newest board members - Patrick Crowley, Angelisa Gillyard, Sharell Jarvis, and Greg Martin! Angelisa has been serving with us since June 2023, and Patrick, Sharell, and Greg will be joining us in January 2024. We are so excited by the passion, commitment, and expertise in various areas these four individuals bring. From PhDs to on-the-ground organizing experience; theatre to policy knowledge; deep understanding of traditional board structures to fresh eyes ready to take a new approach – we know this new configuration of the board will continue to help build a strong, sustainable organization with our values at the heart of it. Click here to read our announcement and more about each new board member. Welcome to the team!
This is the first open call for board members that Ally Theatre Company (and programming arm Voices Unbarred) has put out since establishing its founding board in 2022 after merging the two organizations under one roof. We spent nine months developing an objective process that would highlight the skills we were seeking and encourage Black people and people impacted by incarceration to apply. We made sure our application was accessible by offering people a choice to apply via video or written form, a chance to talk with a current board member before applying to answer any questions about serving on the board or about the application itself, and limiting the questions asked and expected length of answers. We also made sure to share the application with individuals who have experienced incarceration and various listservs and organizations who serve those who have been incarcerated and could share the opportunity with their constituents. Our scoring rubric was weighted with the responses to our questions mattering the most, then relevant experience, and finally, a special weight was added for people who were systems-impacted so those applicants were not penalized for lack of job or board experience. Members of our onboarding committee each scored the applications blindly, and then those scores were averaged together and weighted. We then held short interviews with the top scoring candidates.
What We Learned:
While we are absolutely thrilled by the three strong candidates who have chosen to serve with us on our board, we also are aware that we weren’t able to onboard anyone who is directly impacted by incarceration. Devin, who is systems-impacted, has served as our Board President for the past two years, and it was our goal to have our board be even more representative of the community we serve this year. We knew there would be barriers to overcome – boards have historically been mostly white and often male; also people who have enough free time and the ability to volunteer that time do not always overlap with the people we are seeking. Due to these reasons, among others, serving on a board can seem daunting and foreign to many people. Our hope was that our application process would encourage more people impacted by incarceration to apply. We did see some success, but the numbers were still low. And on top of that, many of the vital skills we were seeking as a small, grassroots nonprofit weren’t met by the few applications we did receive. That just led us to see that there is still more skill building and work that needs to be done both on our end and in society as a whole if we want to make board membership more equitable, diverse, and antiracist.
It is very important to us that people impacted by incarceration not only have their voices amplified through our programming, but have leadership positions throughout our organization. One step we are taking towards this goal in FY24 is to meet with our Community Advocates throughout the year outside of programming to offer various leadership training and skill building sessions in the hopes of paving an internal pathway to serving on our board for those we work with who are interested.
Check out our Meet the Team page to see board members, as well as Community Advocates, facilitators, and others who make our work possible!