Boards and commissions are advisory or regulatory groups that work with cities and counties. Regulatory groups set licensing standards and professional requirements for members. Advisory groups provide guidance to the program or agency with which they are affiliated. Board and commission members are unpaid volunteers. Examples of local boards or commissions include Planning and Zoning, Libraries, Health, and Compensation.
Why should I serve?
Serving on a board or commission is a significant and meaningful way to participate in civic life. As a member, you can share your expertise while directly participating in shaping your local community. Many people choose to serve on boards and commissions as a means of gaining new skills, sharing diverse viewpoints, or to “step out of a comfort zone.” Some might also choose to utilize their seats as a means to attain higher leadership positions, appointed or elected.
Gender balance for state-level boards and commissions has been required since 1987, and in 2009, the Iowa Legislature extended this mandate to county and city boards and commissions, effective January 1, 2012. Many cities and counties are looking for qualified individuals to serve. Often, citizens may apply for boards and commissions that they think themselves qualified for, which has led to a concentration of women on certain bodies and a concentration of men on others. For instance, traditionally, men have not been asked as often to sit on early childhood boards, and those boards tend to be dominated by women.
Counties and cities are looking for a diversity of experiences and skills on their boards and commissions. Although women make up more than half of the Iowa population, they have been underrepresented on some local boards and commissions. Joining local boards and commissions now can help to open future leadership possibilities to other women in your area.
You can add your information to the Friends of ICSW Talent Bank database so that your community leaders can see that you are interested in serving. The Friends of ICSW will display your name, city and county of residence and your contact information. Community leaders can browse the Talent Bank database to find women who are willing to serve.