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Emergency Network of Los Angeles Committees Want to start a committee? Got an idea to get a dormant committee up and running again? New/interim chair seeking guidance? This is the place for you. The Emergency Network of Los Angeles (ENLA) is the Los Angeles County VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters). We usually stand up committees for two reasons: standing committees to handle ongoing VOAD business, or ad hoc committees to tackle short-term projects. I.

Committee charters

a. For a list of ENLA’s current standing committees, email or check the website: We may already have a standing committee for you to join. ENLA’s standing committees are developed during the periodic strategic planning process, and are listed in the Strategic Plan (email for a copy of the current Strategic Plan). b. If you’ve got an idea for a committee, standing or ad hoc, bring it to a board meeting. Start this process by talking to a board member or staffer ( about your idea, and to be added to the agenda at the next board meeting. The board will need to approve the new committee (and the project it’s working on). II.

Start-up tasks a. Starting up a new committee? Here are some things you’ll want to do: i. Recruit new members (email/call your own colleagues; ask ENLA board and general members for referrals to people whose skills or experience would benefit the committee; send a committee formation announcement to the membership; ask staff to post a notice on the website, blog, Twitter, Facebook). Members need not be ENLA members, or even affiliated with a nonprofit organization; choose people who can move the project forward. ii. Plan your first meeting/conference call. Do you hope to include people who live far away? Is the majority of your potential membership volunteers? You will want to consider these things when scheduling. iii. Create a list of topics to discuss at the first meeting, along with a short description of the committee and what you’d like to get accomplished. Give people an idea of how frequently you’d expect to meet, and for how long, so they can evaluate their ability to participate.


Committee leadership a. According to ENLA’s bylaws, committee chairs should also be board members. In cases where specific skills or experiences are needed, this can be waived; talk to one of the board officers about a waiver. Cooperation, Communication, Coordination, Collaboration

Emergency Network of Los Angeles – the Los Angeles County VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) 501 Shatto Place Suite 100, Los Angeles, CA 90020 * 213-739-6888 office * *

b. You can also bring a committee idea to the board and ask a board member to chair the committee. IV.

Committee meetings a. Your first meeting – whether you’re a new chair for an existing committee, or starting a committee from scratch there are some business items you’ll need to get out of the way pretty quickly. Three tips for running any committee: be inclusive, encourage many points of view, and collaborate to make decisions. i. Elect a chair. This doesn’t have to happen during the first meeting, but ask for nominations (including yourself, if appropriate), choose a term duration, and decide when you will hold the election. It’s not self-serving to hold a meeting as the interim chair and nominate yourself for the permanent position! If you’ve got passion for a topic, let everyone know it. ii. Develop a mission statement. Try not to overthink it; a committee mission statement should describe the purpose of the committee and can include values and vision statements if the group wishes. Try to keep it short and simple. iii. Create goals for the year. These may be just for the duration of the committee’s lifespan, if it’s an ad hoc committee. Tie the goals to a potential end-date of the committee, for ad hocs. iv. Choose someone to document the meetings, and report on activities. This means they will take notes of meeting discussions (you are not required to follow Robert’s Rules, if you don’t want to) and send them to committee members, the board secretary, and either staff or the person maintaining the website. They will also report on activities completed over the course of time, so the committee can show progress on its web page on v. A note about activities: you may be able to plan them ahead of time; if so, list them on the information sheet you develop for the committee. Provide the information sheet to the committee members, board secretary, and staff or the person maintaining the website.

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Frequently Asked Questions 1. What does a committee chair do? Coordinate regular meetings of an ENLA committee. He/she may also attend other committee meetings in order to connect committees to each other by presenting work product or providing information. Commit to holding regular meetings, at whatever interval the committee decides. An ad hoc committee, for example, may meet three times and have completed their project. Standing committees often meet monthly, sometimes quarterly, and the Long Term Recovery Committee commonly meets once or twice a year unless there’s a community in LA County with an active Long Term Recovery Group. Arrange meeting locations or conference call lines (if you’re having a hard time with either of these, ask the committee members whether their organizations can host, talk to staff if available, or bring your need to the board or general membership. There is usually a member organization with space or a conference call line that can host). Maintain a membership roster. Provide this annually to the board secretary. Keep the group on track to complete the goals for the year. If the goals change, that’s ok. It’s important for people making time to participate to be working toward concrete goals, rather than just meeting to meet. Continue recruitment; most committees can benefit from continually asking “who should be at the table?” You may be looking for people to present ideas or tools during one meeting, or for additional new members to bring richness to the work you’re doing to achieve the committee’s goals. Plan for succession. Remind the group as the end of your term nears, especially if your committee doesn’t meet often. Ask members if they would be interested in providing leadership to the group, and provide information about the time and effort commitment. *Alert the board secretary (and staff, if available) if you are getting ready to step down as chair in the next three months and no one on the committee has shown interest in running for the position. 2. How can I get people to attend committee meetings? In the past, we have found that people don’t attend for some of these reasons: o

Committee meetings are not consistently held (they forget about it, or are never sure when it’s held)


Meetings are logistically challenging for them (too far away, bad time of day or week)


They are too busy (it’s not you, it’s them!)


They are already attending one or more similar meetings. If this is the case, talk to the group as best you can about how ENLA can plug into these groups and avoid dividing the audience even further, or coordinating several groups to bring them all together.

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sample ENLA Committee Information Sheet Committee Name:


Interim/Current Chair:

Jane Doe (SoCal Charity Foundation)

Committee type:


Meeting schedule:

Monthly, last Thursdays at 3pm

Proposed End Date:


Mission: The mission of the ENLA Training Committee is to provide consistent training opportunities to general and board members, and increase the number of nonprofits that have completed Incident Command System training. Goals for 2012: 1. Facilitate training at every quarterly General Membership meeting 2. Coordinate four Incident Command System workshops for members per calendar year 3. Develop a short training survey to determine what types of training members want 4. Distribute the training survey at the Annual General Meeting every year 5. Develop new relationships with organizations/subject matter experts who can provide training at low or no cost to ENLA members Activities 1. Facilitated disaster plan development training at March general meeting (20 attendees) 2. Coordinated ICS-100 in-person training at Santa Clarita Activities Center 04/23/12 (55 attendees) 3. Training survey completed and approved by ENLA board 05/09/12 4.

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ENLA Committee Information Sheet Committee Name: Interim/Current Chair: Committee type: Meeting schedule: Proposed End Date: Mission:

Goals: 1. 2. 3. Activities:

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ENLA Committee Guidance