10 Oct What Are Boards and Commissions?
What positions come to mind when you think about public service?
City council members? Mayors? Governors? State or federal lawmakers?
What about board and commission members?
Boards and commissions play an important role in shaping public policy in our communities and providing feedback to elected officials.
Typically board and commissions fall into three categories:
Advisory boards do not have any formal policy making or governing power, instead they provide feedback, advice, and recommendations to elected officials and their administrations.
Quasi-judicial or regulatory boards are granted some level of authority through ordinance or statute to make decisions that are enforceable by law.
Supervisory boards are assigned to manage and oversee an agency or a governmental task. Responsibilities for supervisory boards include things like budget approval, policy creation, personnel employment and appointment, ect.
Because board and commission members are appointed and not elected, board service can be a lower-stress entry point to political service. Additionally, the lack of an election means you can join a board at any time, rather than needing to wait for an election cycle.
Some boards or commissions are more competitive to join, and some may require specific expertise. However, if you are willing to cast a wide net in your city, county and even state, you are very likely to find a vacancy you can fill. You can also expand your search to local nonprofits.
If you are considering joining a board or commission, start by researching what is available in your area. A quick Google search is a great starting place, and you can also reach out to your city, county or state offices for guidance (trust us—if you make a call asking someone how you can serve, people will be THRILLED to direct you to the right place!). From there the process is a lot like applying for a job. You’ll submit information about your experience and interest and be interviewed before your appointment is voted on.
Not only is joining a board or commission a great service opportunity— it’s a great learning and networking opportunity as well
Board services give you…
- A close up view to how government works
- An understanding of the terminology and processes related to governing
- Tools to address issues you are passionate about
- Insight into issues you may have been unaware of in your community
- Personal connections with important decision makers
Serving on a board or commission does not need to lead to running for office to be a valuable use of your time. However, no matter what your goals are, board and commission service can help you develop some of the tools necessary to accomplish them.
Here are a few resources for finding a board or commission to join in Utah:
This organization helps women in California join boards and commissions: California Women Lead