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Aug 2006 Contents

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UPA 2007

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The Most Non-Boring Article About The UPA Board Ever

By Paul Sherman

Paul Sherman is Vice-President of the Usability Professionals' Association and was the founding President of the Dallas/Fort Worth UPA chapter. He is currently the Director of User-Centered Design at Sage Software in Atlanta, Georgia.

I joined the UPA Board of Directors in 2004 after serving as President of the Dallas-Ft. Worth UPA chapter.

Just before my first board meeting, I realized I had absolutely no clue what the Board actually did. (I did ask for and receive a quick overview of the Board roles and responsibilities during that first meeting. But let’s just say I’m glad there wasn’t a pop quiz at the end...).

I imagine that many general members of the Association may not have a clear idea of the Board’s functions and responsibilities. So I decided to put together a quick overview of the UPA Board – what functions it performs, how it’s structured, and who’s currently performing what role. But first, a little about the UPA itself...

To the US Internal Revenue Service, the Usability Professionals’ Association is a “501(c)6” organization. This means that a) we’re non-profit, but b) we’re not a charitable organization. We’re more akin to a Chamber of Commerce or an organization that promotes a group’s business interests, such as a trade association.

The UPA’s governing body is the Board of Directors. All Board members are volunteers; Board members do not receive monetary compensation for serving.

The Board of Directors elects the UPA “officer” positions of President, Vice President, and Secretary-Treasurer. (The board has the option of splitting this officer position into two roles, which we did a few years back.) The Directors who aren’t officers serve “at large”, although we have defined specific roles for Directors to assume. Which brings us to...

The Current Board of Directors
At present the Board has 10 members: a President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Secretary, and 6 Directors-at-large. As I mentioned above, we have defined roles for each Director – including officers – and these roles determine in large part what each Director does with their time. Because the Directors function as the governing body, all UPA projects are led by or overseen by a Director.

The Board does have the latitude to review and change the roles assigned to Directors; in fact we did this in 2005 when we created the new role of “Director of World Usability Day.”

The roles we have defined are:

  • Director of Membership and Sponsors
  • Web Director
  • Director of Publications
  • Director of World Usability Day
  • Director of Chapters
  • Director of Professional Development
  • Director of Marketing
  • Director for Student and Young Professionals
  • Director of Outreach

For the most part these titles are self-explanatory. But the question remains: “what do the Board members actually do?”

Luckily for me, each Board member was asked to describe their role and current responsibilities at the UPA 2006 Leader Day meeting, a half-day gathering held before the conference for chapter leaders, leaders of volunteer projects, and past UPA Board members.

Below I’ve paraphrased each Board member’s tasks, projects and responsibilities:

Thyra Rauch is serving her first year as UPA President. The President’s role can be described as a combination of “Chief Cat Herder” and “Principal Flak Catcher.” Sounds glamorous, yes?

The President’s “cat herder” responsibilities include setting agendas for and leading all UPA Board meetings, reviewing vendor contracts, and working with the administrative office to field queries from members, the press, and other organizations.

The President is almost always the first person to be called when a problem or issue arises, which explains the “flak catcher” designation.

Finally, the President has some “ceremonial” duties; these include opening the annual conference, appointing committees, and presenting awards.

Vice-President and Director of Members and Sponsors
I’m currently serving as UPA VP and Director of Members and Sponsors. The Vice-President’s role is essentially to backstop the President; leading meetings when the President is unavailable, and representing UPA publicly when the President cannot.

The VP typically assumes a named role as well. I am currently Director of Members and Sponsors, which means that I am responsible for building membership and recruiting sponsors for UPA activities, creating sponsorship offerings, and coordinating the recruitment of corporate and organizational sponsors.

The Director of Members and Sponsors is also responsible for producing the UPA Salary Survey; our most recent survey report covers 2005 and is available on the UPA web site at http://www.usabilityprofessionals.org/usability_resources/ surveys/2005_upa_salary_survey.pdf

Treasurer and Web Director
Whitney Quesenbery, our immediate past President, is currently Treasurer and Web Director. In addition to signing the checks, the UPA Treasurer works closely with the administrative office to ensure that the Association is financially healthy.

The UPA Web Director has the following responsibilities:
▪ Coordinates all UPA web properties, including World Usability Day and the annual conference web sites
▪ Supervises all contracts with web vendors
▪ Monitors web statistics, as needed
▪ Directs updates of UPA web content
▪ Leads projects to update or enhance the UPA’s web presence

Secretary and Director of Publications
Kerrie Green is also serving a dual role as Secretary and Director of Publications. As in many organizations, the Secretary is responsible for recording and disseminating meeting minutes.

The Director of Publications supervises all UPA publications: UX magazine, Journal of User Experience, UPA Voice and UPA Monthly. In addition, the Director of Publications assists publication editors in finding volunteer editorial staff, supervises contracts with publication vendors, and ensures that publication content and UPA web site content are in sync.

Director of World Usability Day
Director of World Usability Day is a new role, reflecting the fact that this event has grown in importance since its inception last year. Elizabeth Rosenzweig is currently serving in this role.

The Director of World Usability Day is responsible for building a leadership team to take on the various tasks around World Usability Day; helping the team develop procedures and processes for volunteers to hold local events; recruiting volunteers and inspiring groups to participate in the event, and building strong sponsor relationships.

Director of Chapters
Dave Mitropoulos-Rundus is the UPA’s Director of Chapters. This role is responsible for:

  • Facilitating the creation of chapters world-wide
  • Mentoring members who are forming new chapters
  • Assisting existing chapters as needed
  • Helping to revive “flagging” chapters
  • Developing and maintaining resources for supporting chapter development.

Recently the UPA has seen significant growth in chapters worldwide; new chapters have formed in Spain, Brazil, India, China, and other areas as well.

Director of Professional Development
Nigel Bevan is the current Director of Professional Development. In this role, he oversees the creation and maintenance of resources for UPA members to improve their skills and learn more within our field.

Currently, a major focus for professional development is the UPA Body of Knowledge (UBoK), a comprehensive resource that represents the collective knowledge of the usability profession. A preview of the UBoK is available at www.usabilitybok.org.

Director of Marketing
Lyle Kantrovich is currently serving as Director of Marketing, another new role for the UPA Board of Directors. Lyle and the board have identified the following key tasks for this role:

  • Collect collateral and assets from UPA & Chapters
  • Build an online repository for marketing and branding assets
  • Develop marketing and branding collateral as needed
  • Revise brand guidelines as needed
  • Advise on branding and marketing for all UPA projects and initiatives, such as project web sites, World Usability Day events, publications, etc.

Director for Students and Young Professionals
Peter Picone is currently serving in this new role. The Director for Students and Young Professionals is responsible for growing the membership by recruiting new graduates and beginning professionals in the profession.

Director of Outreach
Silvia Zimmermann is the current Director of Outreach. Board members in this role are responsible for defining the UPA’s outreach goals and strategy; forming alliances with other professional associations; and initiating or joining in research projects and events with other organizations.


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