A Public Board Meeting Before I Go

On Wed. 4/27/2011, I staffed the monthly board meeting of the Housing Endowment And Regional Trust--the HEART of San Mateo County.

As background, HEART is a housing trust fund, and I'm its executive director. It raises funds from public and private sources to meet critical housing needs in the county. Primarily, HEART finances affordable housing development, as well as makes homebuyer assistance loans to families and individuals, in one of the nation's most expensive housing markets.

HEART is a public agency--technically, a joint powers authority (JPA) or collaboration among local governments. Unusual if not unique among JPAs, it is governed by a public/private board, with two county supervisors, nine members of individual city councils, and up to ten members of the private sector. So, it's extremely networked and collaborative, and it has a lot of moving parts.

The April 27 meeting was truly a remarkable -- and remarkably productive -- one. The board:
  • accepted the quarterly financial report;
  • approved the FY2012 administrative budget;
  • accepted the FY2010 audited financial report;
  • approved substantive changes to the QuickStart Revolving Loan Fund;
  • discussed our May 11 executive briefing and luncheon, and board assignments to get people there;
  • adopted the HEART business plan, which we've been working on since November.

There was a nice blend of humor and seriousness throughout. Committee chairs and the treasurer presented items, not just staff, which increased the board's comfort level with the information tremendously.

The meeting ended about 10 minutes early. The room was just bursting with good energy when it was over, as people caught up with one another and chatted excitedly. I liked that!

(Writing that makes me think of my former boss and mentor, the late Bro. Kelly Cullen. He was all about finding the good energy.)

A few years ago, when HEART started, a meeting with this amount on the agenda would have been painful. We've made such great strides organizationally, both in terms of our external accomplishments -- funding the construction, renovation or purchase of 805 affordable homes! -- and internal systems -- financial reports that are consistent and understandable -- that this meeting was at least partly a joy.

It's a team effort, and I'm grateful for the board, our staff, volunteers, funders, and community partners. Together, we have accomplished something real. I'm grateful for my personal Quaker practice that has helped me maintain a calm center at the middle of all this, which I believe has served the organization well.

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