Montpelier Committed to 50% Descendant Parity on Board

Awaiting List of 15 Recommendations from Montpelier Descendants Committee

Press Release Date: Wednesday, April 20,2022

The Montpelier Foundation (TMF) said today that it will review and accept nine new Board candidates to join the three Montpelier Descendants Committee (MDC) members already on the Board. The nine would be put forward solely by the MDC, drawn from a list of 15 names. The Governance Committee of the Foundation has advised the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) and the MDC of this proposal. 

“What we are waiting for from the MDC is the list of proposed individuals,” said Board Chair Gene Hickok. “We are eager to move on those names. We need to receive them by May 1 so that we can vote on them at our May 16 Board meeting. 

“We propose a Board that is 12 MDC-endorsed members and 12 Board-appointed members, and one representative of NTHP. Our commitment to parity has never wavered. 

“The issue regarding parity at Montpelier has been settled for some time. The disagreement is about how it should be achieved,” said Hickok. “The June 16, 2021, bylaws envisioned a collaborative process, which was embraced by the Foundation. The MDC has insisted on an approach directed by the MDC without collaboration. 

“The bylaw changes approved on June 16, 2021, among other things, provided for a process where parity would be achieved by the MDC ‘nominating or endorsing’ potential board members. These words were chosen after months of conversation and were well understood by all. Once the actual implementation of the process began, it became clear that the MDC position had changed—they would only ‘appoint’ new board members.” 

The Foundation continues its efforts to achieve parity. Five of 16 board members are descendants, even though the MDC only recognizes three for MDC parity purposes. 

There was to be a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that would define how the two organizations would work together, but the MDC refused to work collaboratively to advance an MOU. To date, there is not one. 

The addition of the names to be submitted by the MDC provides “structural parity” on the Board, as prescribed by the 2018 “Rubric,” a guide for establishing and evaluating the successful participation of descendants of enslaved persons at an historic site, at all levels of operation, including the Board of Directors. 

“We expect to choose from an MDC list of prospective nominees in an expedited manner, consistent with the Foundation’s governance policies,” said Hickok, “and plan to have new members join in two tranches, to be completed in 2022.“ 

One tranche would be as of July 1, and the other as of October 1. All would be elected at the May meeting. 

“We continue to believe strongly that all descendant voices should be heard and that the two non-MDC descendants of enslaved persons currently on our board are recognized for their commitment and contribution to Montpelier and its true history. Our proposed agreement would establish 14 board members who either self-identify as descendants of those enslaved or who are non-descendants recommended by the MDC,” said Hickok. 

“To reiterate: we welcome the list of 15 recommended candidates from the MDC no later than May 1 and are prepared to move forward with Governance Committee recommendations to the Board at our May 16 meeting.”