A Changing of the Guard
Monday, July 6, 2020
Posted by: Brian O'Leary
BISG's fiscal and board years start on July 1, so this week we welcome three new members of the board: Joshua Boisvert (ReaderLink), Allen Johnson (Baker & Taylor), and Joshua Tallent (Firebrand). They'll be joining their first board meeting on July 23.
The reorganization of the BISG board also means four of its members are departing, including Dennis Abboud, Jr. (ReaderLink), Beat Barblan (Bowker), Malati Chavali (Macmillan), and Sam Dempsey (Baker & Taylor). We'd planned to recognize each of them in April, at our postponed annual meeting, and in September, at the replacement date for that gathering.
With our decision to reposition the September meeting as a set of online conversations, our in-person opportunities to thank them are pretty limited. I wanted to take a few minutes to recognize each of our outgoing board members and thank them for their work to make BISG a better organization.
Both Beat Barblan and Sam Dempsey have helped steer the BISG and its board through significant change. They were members of a much larger board that decided in 2017 to reconsider how the organization governed itself. On a board led by Maureen McMahon (Kaplan Publishing), they voted to reduce the size of the board to 14 members, shorten terms to two years, and limit service to no more than two consecutive terms.
Those changes took effect in mid-2018, and both Beat and Sam joined the new board as representatives of the industry partner and distribution segments, respectively. Beat also serves on the boards of the International ISBN Agency, which he chairs, and EDItEUR, where he is treasurer, so he has regularly brought both a for-profit and a non-profit perspective to the board's stewardship of BISG. He has served on the BISG board for much of the last decade, providing both counsel and support throughout.
Sam Dempsey joined the BISG board six years ago, but his involvement with our association goes back much further. For topics central to BISG, particularly metadata, Sam has provided an institutional voice and perspective. With so many of our board members changing over the past four years, Sam's longer-term view helped steer conversations about committee structure, governance, and our financial health to the right place.
Dennis Abboud, Jr. is finishing his first term on the BISG board. ReaderLink plays a critical role for many trade book publishers looking to grow sales in the mass market channel, and Dennis has helped the board and BISG understand and serve that opportunity. In his second year, Dennis also took on the treasurer role, a critical position for any trade association. He also helped make our first two "Concept to Consumer" day-long courses a success, bringing multiple ReaderLink staff and presenting in 2019.
Like Dennis, Malati Chavali is also finishing her first term on the BISG board. At Macmillan, she was recently promoted to become senior v-p of publishing strategy and initiatives, a role that is part of the company's trade management committee. That governing body is expected to help Macmillan include diverse perspectives in its decision-making process. Malati's strategic perspective on the BISG board will be missed, but our loss will only benefit Macmillan and the industry.
BISG board members are elected by the membership each April, after a public call for nominations and a nominating committee review. Each year, half the seats on the board are open. Current board members can apply for reappointment only once, and bylaws require that the board include a determined number of representatives from each segment of the supply chain.
As with our committees, the board plays a critical role in keeping BISG relevant, with the added responsibility of ensuring that it is well-run. If you have an interest in serving on the board, look for a call for nominations this fall. If you'd like more information about the board itself, write to Brian O'Leary or ask any current member of the board.