We are often asked to make recommendations for appointments to a variety of education-related boards or commissions positions across the state. In an effort to grow and diversify our list of candidates, we are developing the Mississippi First Board Book that we can use to recommend high-quality board candidates to nonprofits and policymakers. 

This resource will support education-related boards and commissions at the state and local levels. For state boards and commissions, the law often requires that state officials, such as the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the House, or State Superintendent, make appointments from specific geographic localities or with specific experiences. In other cases, state and local nonprofits or local school boards need help in finding people with the right qualifications.

State education-related boards and commissions this book could serve include, but are not limited to,

  1. The State Board of Education
  2. The Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board
  3. Legislative taskforces
  4. Governor’s taskforces
  5. Mississippi Department of Education-created taskforces
  6. Statewide nonprofit boards or initiatives

Local education-related boards this book could serve include, but are not limited to,

  1. Traditional public school boards
  2. Charter school boards
  3. Local education nonprofit boards

Organizations are only as strong as their leadership and governance. Boards are the most common governance structure of organizations in Mississippi. The quality of each individual board member is critical to the overall ability of the board to successfully govern the organization. Great board members have a good understanding of the organization’s mission, believe in it, and respect the difference between governance and management. They provide guidance and expert knowledge to the staff and support the staff in executing the Board-approved strategic plan of the organization. Too often, nominating committees or individual policymakers are too pressed for time or lack the appropriate networks to find great candidates for multiple board positions. In these instances, Mississippi First frequently receives a call for help with a very short turnaround time, making it hard for us to provide great recommendations. This process will provide Mississippi First with a pre-vetted list of qualified candidates that we can call upon when we are asked to help with recommendations.

Collection of interested candidates

Mississippi First provides a questionnaire on our website in order to collect information from individuals who are interested in serving on Mississippi education-related boards and commissions. This survey asks candidates for their contact information, congressional and Mississippi Supreme Court district, educational experience, explanation of interest in serving, and relevant experience. Mississippi First will use this information to determine whether to recommend the applicant for a board vacancy. If Mississippi First seeks to move forward with a recommendation, we will contact the applicant and ask permission to recommend him/her. Please note: if there are no current board vacancies or if the applicant is not the right fit for available vacancies, there might be a delay in Mississippi First’s follow up.

Selection and endorsement

After a candidate submits a board member interest questionnaire, Mississippi First will review it and the candidate’s resume and follow up if there are any additional questions. Accepted candidates will be filed in the book. When vacancies arise, Mississippi First will select candidates from the Board Book that are the best fit for the board requesting recommendations. These candidates will receive Mississippi First’s official endorsement and will be recommended, as long as the candidate agrees. Typically, Mississippi First will recommend multiple people for the same vacancy to provide a diverse group of choices.

What will be provided to boards

The Board Book is not a public document and therefore any collected information will only be provided to boards if the following conditions are met:

  • The requesting board is a public body or a trusted nonprofit partner.
  • The candidate has passed Mississippi First’s vetting process and has been accepted to the Board Book,
  • Mississippi First believes there is alignment between the candidate and the board looking for recommendations, and
  • The candidate agrees to be recommended.

Once these conditions are met, Mississippi First will share the candidate’s name will be placed on Mississippi First’s list of recommended candidates for the board position and the candidate’s questionnaire and resume will be shared with the board.

Mississippi First does not have the authority to appoint members to any education-related boards in Mississippi and can only make recommendations to the people responsible for nominating. Depending on the urgency of the board vacancy and Mississippi First staff time, there could be a delay in Mississippi First following up with interested candidates. Please know all questionnaires will be reviewed and vetted in an ongoing manner and Mississippi First staff will reach out if there are any additional questions. Mississippi First does not guarantee board positions nor is submission of an application to the Board Book considered an acceptance of the candidate. Some applicants may not be accepted to the Board Book.