Committee Handbook Excerpt: Understanding the Work of Committee and Task Force Chairs

This is adapted from the new Committee Handbook, available in the NAIS Bookstore.
At most independent schools, the board chair appoints the chairs of committees and task forces, and the people selected are usually trustees. … Serving as the chair of a committee or task force is good training for future board officers. Your board chair can find it helpful to consult with the governance committee about potential chairs, as that committee is charged with succession planning and may have ideas about who would benefit from chairing other committees.

The incoming chairs of your committees or task forces should be oriented to their positions and have hands-on consultations with the outgoing chairs (if any). For continuity, it is best that your committee chairs serve for two years and, when possible, have already served as committee or task force members before becoming chair. A task force chair’s term typically ends when the task force’s work is done, often in a year or less.

These are the responsibilities of committee or task force chairs:
  • Leading the development of a work plan based on the charge the committee or task force has been given
  • Scheduling meetings so that the work complements the committee or task force’s plan and the flow of reports and recommendations to the board is timely
  • Assigning members to do specific tasks
  • Communicating with staff assigned to support the work of the committee or task force, if staff assistance is appropriate and available
  • Leading the assessment of how well assigned tasks are accomplished
  • Assessing committee or task force members’ performance, if that’s part of the committee on trustees’ board evaluation process
  • Serving as a member of the executive committee if the executive committee includes chairs of the standing committees (However, chairs of task forces do not usually serve on the executive committee.)
Read more about the essentials of using committees and task forces to strengthen your board in the Committee Handbook, part of NAIS’s Trustee Series. It’s available in the NAIS Bookstore.