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Photo by Broadmead resident Erroll Hay

Broadmead’s Trustees focus on residents and employees

By Alice Cherbonnier

Broadmead, Inc., like other nonprofit organizations, is governed by a Board of Trustees whose fiduciary duties include providing legal, financial, and mission oversight. Boards may also serve in other capacities in support of the administration, such as strategic planning, fundraising, investing, and performing assessments to ensure quality and stability. A board does not engage in day-to-day operations, which are the province of the CEO, the board’s only employee. Simply put, a nonprofit board oversees, but the CEO executes. In these ways, all nonprofits function similarly.

Differences in how a board approaches its work, however, can impact an organization’s culture and distinct “feel.” This is particularly true at Broadmead because, as a stand-alone Life Plan Community, the 15-member Board of Trustees is not accountable to a larger organization. This affords the Board the opportunity to approach its operations in ways that might not be possible in a more “top-down” situation. Broadmead’s Board not only strives to be transparent and collaborative, it fosters considerable resident involvement.

Given that at least half of the Board’s members must be Quaker, this egalitarian approach is not surprising. “The Board uses the talents of residents and consults residents,” affirms Ann Heaton, a Quaker who has twice served as Board Clerk. “The Board is very aware of Broadmead’s Quaker history and background, and takes that under advisement when making decisions.”

Quakers govern by a sense of unity rather than by majority rule. “Everything [Trustees do] is done by Quaker process, which is required by Trustees’ bylaws,” confirms Rob White, Board Clerk. “There is no voting. We enjoy collegial relationships and discuss issues until we conclude that we have arrived at a decision, which we call ‘a sense of the meeting.’”

Two residents— Board Assistant Clerk Jackie Mintz and Bill Breakey—are current Board members, while two others—Jen Hobbins and Ann Heaton—attend Board meetings as representatives of BRA. In addition, several other residents serve on Trustee committees, such as Finance and Strategic Planning. While all Board committee meetings are open to all members (with a few personnel-related exceptions), BRA representatives attend only the full Board meetings and any committees to which they have been assigned.

“We are blessed to have excellent talent among our Trustees,” says Rob. “Each Trustee serves on at least one standing committee, and many serve on two or more. Most of the ‘heavy lifting’ is done at the committee level, with recommendations then brought to the full Board for discussion and approval.” He credits the Board’s Committee on Trustees for identifying and recruiting new members with needed talent and experience.

A Quaker, Rob has served as Board Clerk since 2017. After earning a master’s degree in health administration, he worked as an HMO administrator and then as CEO of a Delaware-based Medicaid managed care and long-term care company. “When you retire, you still want to be engaged and challenged, and give something back,” he says of his decision to join Broadmead’s Board.

Trustees are not just resident-centered; they are also focused on nurturing employees. The Board has directed its sole employee, CEO Robin Somers, to concentrate on making Broadmead an “employer of choice”—a place where people want to work. Yolanda Johnson, Vice President of Human Resources, and other senior staff participate in the Employee Advisory Committee, which is intended to ensure that employees’ needs and concerns are being voiced and addressed by Broadmead’s administration. This committee is unusual in that Broadmead’s non-supervisory employees have a seat at the table where important policy decisions are discussed. Besides offering education scholarships and an employee assistance fund, Broadmead has an internship program to develop future leadership.

In addition to offering competitive salaries and benefits, Broadmead is also instituting sign-on bonuses. “We need a full complement of the highest caliber employees,” says Rob. “There’s a nationwide problem with hiring right now.”

Underscoring everything at Broadmead is prudent financial management, a hallmark of Quaker practice. “Broadmead maintains a very good reserve balance,” Ann Heaton points out, “way more than required by the State of Maryland.” Over the past 41 years, this fiscal policy has helped Broadmead weather a number of challenges, not least of which is COVID-19.

Looking ahead to increasing normalcy, Rob reports that he and the CEO have identified three primary goals for FY 2022: “Number one, keep everyone safe and healthy. Number two, take care of the employees and pursue becoming an employer of choice. Number three, invest as necessary in restoring a sense of community, post-COVID and post-Master Plan construction.” He adds, “Number two precedes number three because number three can’t be accomplished, nor perhaps number one, if we don’t accomplish number two: attracting and retaining the best employees for Broadmead.”

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