INITIATIVE FOR THE
FUTURE OF RURAL OKLAHOMA
Steering Committee Section
- Steering committee
- Advantages of using an steering committee
- Tasks of an committee
- Who should be included
- For the coordinator: Organizing the steering
- Comments regarding commitment
- Sample invitation letter
- Agreement form
- First meeting notice
- Sample committee meeting agenda
Developed by Renée A. Daugherty, Ph.D.and Sue E.
Some material adapted from:
Palmetto Leadership / Christopher M. Sieverdes, Ph.D.,
Developing Community Leadership - The EXCEL Approach
(Experience in Community Enterprise and Leadership Development) / University
of Missouri Outreach and Extension
The local Initiative for the Future of Rural Oklahoma
Leadership Program needs a coordinator to oversee the development,
implementation and evaluation/reporting of the program. This
responsibility is usually undertaken by a county Extension Educator. The
person who will serve as coordinator needs to be identified before the
Steering Committee is recruited.
Advantages of Using a Steering Committee
- To provide the local extension
staff with a broad-based advisory group which shares an interest in
leadership and community development for economic development.
- To serve as a sounding board for
leadership, community, and economic development activities.
- To serve as a liaison with key
community decision makers and function as a clearinghouse for task force
- To support and legitimize the
Extension Service's programming efforts in community leadership and policy
- To recruit, screen, and select
participants for the leadership development programs.
- To become part of an
interpersonal network interested in community and leadership development
to improve the welfare of the community, area, or county.
- To make contact with potential
and actual participants regarding leadership program offerings.
- To provide a broad base of local
resources and contacts which will facilitate collaborative efforts.
- To provide an opportunity for
established and emerging leaders in communities to learn firsthand about
Extension's delivery of services.
- To assist with committee meeting
preparations, fund development for food functions and other needs,
leadership program curriculum selection, developing and/or conducting
leadership program sessions, travel arrangements, and general operation of
the leadership program.
- To serve as a resource group at
the community level in the role of speakers, experts, and interested
parties in a wide variety of subjects related to community development.
- To provide a support system and
information network for the local leadership program coordinator.
Tasks of the Steering Committee for the Local
- Advise and counsel the Leadership
Program coordinator (usually the county Extension Educator) regarding the
operation of the program in the local setting.
- Assist in the recruitment and
screening of Leadership Program class participants.
- Assist the coordinator with
schedule selection, curriculum topic selection, speaker recommendations,
securing facilities, program evaluation and reporting, fund development,
and program promotion.
- Act as a liaison and support
group to the leadership class when dealing with key county and community
- Provide a broad base of local
resources and contacts to the local leadership program and coordinator.
- Provide an opportunity for
community leaders to learn firsthand about community development and
strategic planning methods, skills, and tools.
- Assist with the planning and
implementation of committee meetings, leadership class sessions, class and
resource personnel logistics, and general program operation.
- Serve as a resource to conduct
promotional presentations and class sessions as appropriate.
Who Should Be Included?
Selecting committee members is probably the most important responsibility
of the leadership program coordinator in implementing the Initiative for
the Future of Rural Oklahoma Leadership Program. Be sure to use a great
deal of care in selecting these members -- make every one of your choices
count! Include key, respected, and influential decision makers to serve on
the steering committee. Welcome diversity in terms of demographics and
Even though there is no magic number, the average size
of an Steering Committee may vary from five to eleven members. An ideal
size is approximately seven members.
Some possibilities for selection are:
- Elected or appointed public
official from a municipality or the county
- School superintendent or school
- Chamber of Commerce president or
- Electric or energy utility
- Manager or other official
representing a financial institution
- Manager or other official
representing an industrial firm
- Well-known and respected
- Manager or other official from
major institution or agency (college, technical college, hospital, law
enforcement, emergency services, public works)
- Chair of local Extension advisory
- Key leaders representing various
demographics of the geographic area to be served by the Leadership
Program, such as ethnicity, gender, and age groups
- Key leaders from different
- Representative of an
- Representative of a special
What Should be Done Next?
A prerequisite to forming the Steering Committee for the local leadership
program is a thorough understanding of the committee's purpose from the
coordinator's perspective. The rationale for having people -- and
important people at that -- involved should be examined, discussed and
agreed to by the coordinator and his/her supervisor. Your supervisor will
have special insights based on politics, diversity, and community
development efforts in other locations. The Steering Committee will
remain active for an indefinite period. Membership will be rotated
according to local policy.
You are encouraged to anticipate questions that may be associated with
recruiting committee members. Note that failure to anticipate questions
is one of the most common errors made by those recruiting new members.
Consequently, being unprepared to respond to questions may result in the
loss of some excellent potential members and viewpoints. When you can
answer the questions listed below and related about the program, you are
ready to actively recruit your committee.
First, make personal contact with each potential member
to explain the program. Share a copy of the program brochure. Invite the
member to attend a planning meeting. Note that it is vital that you have
all members present at this planning meeting. Select several dates from
which participants can choose. Be “user-friendly.”
Be able to answer questions such as:
- What is the Initiative for the
Future of Rural Oklahoma local Leadership Program? What is its purpose?
- Who are the sponsors? Who is
paying for it?
- What will I be asked to do?
- How much time investment will it
- Why am I asked to serve on this
- What is the overall job of the
- Who are the other members?
- Where, how often, and for how
long will the committee meet?
- How were the committee members
- What other groups or agencies
will be involved as partners, collaborators, or resources?
Send the letter of invitation to the potential
committee members asking them to serve on the committee (see sample). This
letter may be sent after your personal unofficial contact with the
potential committee member. Before you send first letter representing you
and your office, please keep in mind the importance of quality
correspondence to everyone associated with this program.
Try to send individualized letters to everyone -- not a machine copy
directed to "Steering Committee Member," "Community Leader," "Class
Participant," etc. Make it personal! Community development work is all
about relationships and relationship building.
For the Coordinator: Organizing the
Steering Committee Meetings
Two or three committee planning meetings
should be all that are necessary, so be sure they are efficient, effective
meetings. Here are some suggestions:
Suggestions and Considerations
- Reserve an impressive, well-kept
facility for all meetings. Do not underestimate the importance of this.
First impressions are very important. Some of the participants in this
meeting are not very familiar with the Extension Service. This is an
opportunity for your county OSU Extension program to make a fine, first
impression. To meet in a kitchen, a storage place, or some high traffic
area is not conducive to effective meetings.
- Send a letter to the committee
members inviting them to the first meeting. Include an agenda. (See
- Preparing for the first meeting:
Determine who the co-sponsors will be and
have their total support prior to the planning meeting. Appropriate
co-sponsors include County Council, City Council, Chamber of Commerce,
etc. An appropriate number of co-sponsors would be three or four,
Prepare a tentative timeline, including program
planning, program promotion, recruitment/selection/notification, class
duration, and evaluation that can be used as a starting point for the
committee. Check area calendars of events for potential conflicts.
Be prepared to discuss having a registration
fee, and have a fee or fee range to suggest. One school of thought
is that individual participants must personally pay some portion of
the registration fee in order to acquire the individual's sense of
personal commitment -- participants perform best when they develop a
sense of ownership -- and that the fee not be entirely underwritten by
Compile your personal list of potential participants.
- Hold the committee meetings. It
will probably take more than one meeting to accomplish the following
decisions and actions.
Serve light refreshments, if appropriate for
time of day.
Distribute an agenda, briefly review, and ask
if there are additions or questions.
Welcome and introduce everyone. Distribute a
list of committee members with contact information.
Explain Extension's interest in and support of
community leadership development. Review the concepts of the leadership
Answer questions and further explain how the program
will fit your locale's needs.
Have the committee discuss and decide what process
will be used for participants recruitment, nomination and selection.
As a committee, develop a plan with timeline to
promote the Leadership Program and identify the strategies to be used
and tools needed. Identify who is going to do what and due dates. Some
things to consider include:
a short presentation outline (with a slide show,
such as PowerPoint) to describe the Leadership Program
participant recruitment brochure (see sample
fill-in-the-blank brochure on this web site)
a "speakers bureau" of committee members who seek
opportunities to give presentations about the Leadership Program to
civic groups, professional associations, educational organizations,
government agencies (after the program is underway, remember to
involve participants to give "testimonials" about what they are
news releases for the newspaper, radio and
strategies for keeping the community updated after
each class session on what the participants are learning, such as a
regular column in the newspaper
As a committee, review the leadership program's
multi-session model with opening and closing retreats and the tentative
timeline developed by the Coordinator. Determine the duration of the
program, and select the dates for the opening and closing retreats.
Decide on the number, frequency, length (hours), and day of week for the
intervening sessions between retreats. Review the list of possible
topics, and decide on topics.
- Have the committee discuss the idea of a
"Kick-Off" event with guests invited and whether or not that should be
part of the program.
Review list of tentative meeting sites for each
session. Be sure the room is large enough to seat the class (maximum of
30) on the outside of tables arranged in a large U-shape or a fan shape.
The room should be accessible to running water so snacks can be
Have the committee develop a list of approximately
45-50 names of potential participants who represent a broad cross
section of the locale. Depending on what the committee has just
decided, this may be the only nomination process used or it may be the
start of the nomination process. Committee members should have brought
with them the form provided for this brainstorming purpose. Encourage
them to consider geography, profession, gender, age, race, community,
etc. Encourage committee members and sponsors to be class
participants if they fit the target audience of the leadership program.
Reserve a space for them in the class as first priority in class
Have the committee divide the final list of potential
class participants (maximum of 30) among committee members so each can
make a personal contact. If the committee wants to expand its
nomination process, make assignments for that as well.
Have the committee decide on a deadline to have all
potential class participants contacted (usually 7-10 days maximum).
As a committee, develop a comprehensive list of VIP's
who should be invited to participate in the "Kick-off" event (if
scheduled) and Graduation. Often a graduation ceremony held as part of
the agenda of the sponsoring local government's regular meeting is a
good opportunity. Remember the importance of good public relations.
As a group, decide on top speakers (and alternates)
for the "Kick-off" event (if scheduled). Make every attempt to get
individuals who are well known, impressive, dynamic, and influential.
(Consider U.S. or State congressional representatives and other state
officials. Involve the Steering Committee to make contacts if
If resource development is needed, have the committee
develop a list of potential donors and contributors as well as the types
of contributions needed. Ask committee members to assist in making these
contacts. (Make assignments very specific with deadline dates.)
Summarize for everyone: what has been decided; who is
doing what; and when they are doing it.
Express your appreciation to the Steering Committee
Comments Regarding Commitment by Potential Steering
WHY BECOME INVOLVED?
- For communities to grow and
prosper, they require involvement from leaders like you.
- You have an obligation to your
community to make it the very best place in which to live.
- In order for (Name) County/Locale
to grow and prosper along with neighboring counties, we must take steps
now to ensure its future growth and development by building a solid
community leadership base.
- Many studies cite local
leadership as the single most important factor in providing an environment
for sustained economic development.
- You can make a contribution to
your community even though you may or may not think of yourself as an
influential leader -- others probably do.
This outline represents a streamlined approach to the
formation and functioning of a Steering Committee for a local Leadership
Program in the Initiative for the Future of Rural Oklahoma. Many
additional considerations are involved in working with such committees
depending on the local traditions, culture, personalities, and
stakeholders. Use what has been outlined here but do not hesitate to
modify or expand the nature of your relationships and contacts with your
Sample Invitation to Become a
Steering Committee Member
(Inside address of Invitee)
As coordinator of the local
Initiative for the Future of Rural Oklahoma Leadership Program for (insert
geographic area), I am writing to ask you to serve as a member of the
Steering Committee for this program. You have been identified as an
important leader and community development resource to help establish this
program in our area. We hope to benefit from your leadership, experience,
and commitment to improving the quality of life in (insert local name).
The objective of the Leadership
Program is to encourage emerging leaders to address community concerns.
Developing leadership and community development capacity requires your
involvement in a state and local partnership. Through this partnership, you
can help make (Local name) the best place possible to live and work.
Building significant leadership capacity at the local level is the key to
sustained community and economic development. The enclosure "Tasks of the
Steering Committee" describes some of the efforts in which Steering
Committee members will be involved.
The program is community-driven
through a local Steering Committee. This is a valuable educational and
team-building opportunity to marshal resources and address local concerns
through task force activities. I hope you will join us in the important
I will contact you within the next
two weeks to answer questions and learn your response to this invitation.
In the meantime, if you have questions, please feel free to contact me at
(Phone number) or (e-mail address), or drop by the (county) Cooperative
Extension Service office at (address). If you are willing to serve on this
committee, I will also ask you to complete and return the enclosed Steering
Thank you for your support.
(Name of Local Coordinator)
Initiative for the Future of Rural
Oklahoma -- Leadership Program
I hereby agree to serve on the Steering
Committee and submit biographical information which can be shared with the
committee and program participants as needed.
Name of Employer/Activity:
Other Community Activities:
Sample Thank You Note and
Announcementof First Meetingof Advisory Committee
(Inside address of committee
Thank you for agreeing to serve on
the Steering Committee for the local Initiative for the Future of Rural
Oklahoma Leadership Program for (insert geographic area). You have a special
opportunity to play an important role in this exciting new program offered
in our county. As one of (Local name) key leaders, your support and interest
are vital to the overall success of this program.
I invite you to our first Steering
Committee meeting at the following:
(Indicate day, date, time, and place).
I look forward to reviewing more information about the
program with you at that time as we plan our activities.
Enclosed in a tentative agenda of
the meeting and forms for brainstorming potential class member in the
Leadership Program. Please begin to fill in forms and bring them to our
meeting. I look forward to seeing you on (day).
(Local Coordinator's Name)
Sample Steering Committee Meeting Agenda
[Note: It will generally require more than one
meeting to accomplish the work of the Steering Committee, so some agenda
items below will need to be carried over to additional meetings.]
- PROGRAM DESCRIPTION
- Summary of Program Purpose
- PURPOSE OF STEERING COMMITTEE
- Goals and Responsibilities
- List of Committee Members
- PROGRAM IMPLEMENTATION
- Determine Timeline for Program
Development, Promotion, Implementation and Evaluation
- Decide How to Recruit and
Select Leadership Program Class Participants
- Determine Schedule of Retreats
- Develop a Promotion Plan
- Select Curriculum Topics and
- QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Note to Local Coordinator: It is suggested that you
prepare a list of the committee members and provide title, address,
telephone, and FAX numbers for distribution at this meeting.)