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Who is the immediate past president?

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Who is the immediate past president?

I was president of our symphony for 10 years and now serve on the staff as the managing & artistic director. Our bylaws state that the Executive Committee is supposed to include the current officers and the immediate past president.  I consider myself to be the immediate past president but the other officers have excluded me.  They say that the current president is the immediate past president because he was just elected to his 2nd year as president. This makes no sense to me. Am I correct in saying that I am the immediate past president?

The reason to have an immediate past president serve in the governing structure of a nonprofit corporation is usually to assure that the experience, and perhaps the wisdom, of the most recent former president is available for consultation and participation in the governance of the organization.  That purpose seems to be eliminated if that experience is lost simply because the new president serves a second one-year term.  If the bylaws intended to limit the service to a single year, they easily could have said that the immediate past president serves on the executive committee for a year after completion of his or her service as president.

You should also look back at the history of your organization.  Did your immediate past president serve more than a year on the executive committee when you served as president of the organization?  What happened with the prior transitions?  Is this a unique interpretation in your history?

Although I don’t know the history of your organization and haven’t seen the full bylaws, it sounds to me as though you should continue as immediate past president on the executive committee.  (I see from your website that you are listed as a current officer and perhaps, depending on the specific language of the bylaws, you have a seat on the committee by virtue of your current position.)  If the other officers don’t think you should serve, you could seek support from the other directors.  They may be able to help get this straightened out.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018


I thought if you moved from the Board to a staff position, you could no longer serve on the Board.

There is no legal reason a member of the staff may not serve on the board of directors, although a lot of commentators don't think it is a good idea.  It is less of an issue if the staff person is the CEO than if the staff person is subordinate to the CEO, but that is a matter of policy, not law.  --Don Kramer

Once a new president has been elected the out going president become the immediate past president. All the non profits I have as clients follow this as a rule.

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