The Upper Arlington Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors held the annual board retreat on Nov. 2. Dr. Brad Mitchell helped facilitate it.

The Upper Arlington Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors held the annual board retreat on Nov. 2. Dr. Brad Mitchell helped facilitate it.

Dr. Mitchell received all three of his degrees from the University of Utah (B.S. Political Science '78; Masters of Public Administration '81; Ph.D. in Educational Administration '85). He worked in the U.S. Department of Education on the staff of the National Commission on Excellence in Education, the group that produced the seminal educational reform report, "A Nation At Risk".

As the Battelle/OSU director of STEM Education and Economic Development Engagement, his three major tasks are to: (a) help in the coordination of investments in STEM education by OSU and Battelle (particularly the work going on at Metro and the redesign of Linden McKinley High School in Columbus City Schools); (b) provide leadership in the development of a R&D network across the five new STEM high schools sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and, (c) help clarify and advance a coherent strategic approach to the interrelationship between STEM education and economic development in Central Ohio and across the state.

Retreats are regularly incorporated into an organization's board development strategy.

The end result is to help offer more effective methods to strengthening the decision-making process and overall cohesiveness of a board of directors. A well-planned, inclusively conceived, effectively executed retreat is perhaps the best way to address head-on some of the more challenging issues facing a board and the organization it governs.

Because a board retreat is an unparalleled opportunity for progress, perhaps a better term for the kind of focused, action-oriented meeting that is advocated would be "forward" retreat, or strategic meeting.

Like anything worth doing, a successful board retreat doesn't just happen. It requires careful planning and a significant commitment of resources, time, and creative energy - by planners, by the committee chairs and staff.

"Retreat planning injects a fresh energy and adds creativity to achieving the over-all organization's goals and mission. I think it a wonderful testament to the overall direction and health of the chamber with the level of commitment and time shared by all of the attending board members," said Becky Hajost, president of the UA Area Chamber of Commerce.

"The board retreat allows us to better tie the meeting's agenda and activities clearly to the organization's strategic challenges and goals, said Deborah Taylor, board of trustees chair.

Boards that regularly engage in "forward" retreats know that the time spent away from the press of daily responsibilities and tasks can allow the board to challenge assumptions and rethink systems, begin a strategic planning process, tackle difficult issues, forge camaraderie, and improve productivity.

That being said, the board of trustees accomplished much on Nov. 2 with the help of Dr. Brad Mitchell and are well on their way to planning a successful 2010 action plan for the chamber. Thanks to the MacIntosh Company for its sponsorship in helping make this strategic planning process possible.