Four years ago, our Members voted to approve changes to our bylaws allowing the National Community Land Trust Network to merge with Cornerstone Partnership. Based on your clear support for those changes, we became Grounded Solutions Network. Together, we have advanced our vision for equitable communities organized around the values of inclusion, stewardship, and self-determination. When we proposed the changes to our bylaws four years ago, we also realized that further amendments would eventually be necessary as Grounded Solutions Network evolved further.
During early 2019, at the CEO’s request, the Board of Directors of Grounded Solutions Network formed a bylaws task force to explore further refinements. The task force included five current Board members and two non-board practitioners. Over the past six months, the task force has determined several proposed changes to help the organization advance our goals for racial equity, simplify membership dues payments, update the member voting process and further strengthen our Board composition and processes. The bylaws task force team of volunteers who diligently and thoughtfully worked with staff and external pro-bono legal counsel to develop the proposed changes includes:
• Jaimie Ross, Board Secretary, and task force chair
• Maria Benjamin, GSN Director
• Brenda Torpy, GSN Director
• Christopher Ptomey, GSN Director
• Jeff Yegian, GSN Director
• Dev Goetschius, GSN Member (Housing Land Trust of Sonoma)
• Tony Hernandez, GSN Member (Dudley Neighbors Inc.)
The various proposed changes will formalize our commitment to advancing racial equity in both external and internal aspects of our work to create more equitable and inclusive communities. Several of the specific bylaws changes proposed will also allow the organization to work more effectively with our membership.
We reviewed the proposed bylaws changes with our Members during a virtual town hall on September 11, 2019 and held an in-person discussion of the proposed bylaws changes at the Atlanta Reclaiming Vacant Properties conference on October 2 2019. All Members will be requested to formally vote on the changes as part of our annual email ballot process during the period spanning mid-November – early December 2019. The outcome of the vote will be announced at our virtual Annual Membership Meeting to take place later in mid-December.
A draft of the revised bylaws with the proposed changes highlighted can be accessed for review here. The most significant changes are:
Racial Equity and Inclusion:
Addition of language regarding racial equity and inclusion, including the requirement for the board to adopt a racial equity and inclusion policy.
Streamlines payment of dues and provides for termination of a member if a member does not pay its dues.
Specifies how members can appoint representatives to vote on their behalf if a member cannot make a meeting or submit their own vote based on the deadline.
Board of Directors Updates:
Updates the Board Composition Requirements
Specifies Nomination Committee Process for creating a slate of proposed qualified Directors
Removes Capital Impact Partners Appointed Director (since this is no longer required by Capital Impact Partners)
Permits existing term-limited Officers to serve for an additional year as a non-voting member of the Board of Directors to ensure continuity in governance
Formalize Name Change
In addition to the above request, although the organization is known by and is called “Grounded Solutions Network”, its formal name in its organizational documents is the “National Community Land Trust Network”. In order to reduce confusion and to have our organizational documents be consistent with our currently used organizational name, the Board of Directors would like to formally change the name of the organization to “Grounded Solutions Network”.
Grounded Solutions Network staff and Board hosted a Member-only virtual town hall to discuss several proposed modifications to our organizational bylaws on September 11, 2019. Here are some materials from that meeting: