Constitution committee and YDWA general board propose changes to the YDWA constitution

Proposed Changes to the YDWA Constitution

The YDWA State Convention is less than three weeks away! Along with the various panels and parties, there will also be a fair amount of business that needs to happen at Convention. One of the biggest issues facing this year’s convention is a series of amendments to the YDWA Constitution that seek to improve our organization’s ability to provide leadership opportunities to eager young people, as well as its general effectiveness.

These amendments have been approved unanimously by the General Board (which includes all statewide officers, caucus chairs, and chairs of local chapters). The General Board will submit these changes to the Constitution Committee, which will meet on Saturday. Ultimately, all proposed changes will go before the full body of the Convention on Sunday for final ratification!

The specific amendments are numerous, but they center on four basic changes.

Reorganizing the leadership structure

YDWA Org Chart v4

One of the most important jobs of YDWA is to provide leadership opportunities to eager young people who are looking for an opportunity to get involved. This amendment seeks to improve the organization’s ability to do so in two major ways: first, it creates a number of new positions that are well-suited to people with energy and enthusiasm; second, it establishes a structure where higher-level officers – the five Vice Presidents – are well-positioned to provide support and mentorship to the lower-level Directors that report to them. In short, these changes seek to make it easier for new people to take on active and important roles within the organization.

If this amendment is approved, the following positions would be up for election at Convention:

  • President
    Represents the organization publicly and controls its overall direction
  • Executive Vice President
    Heads up the Leadership Department, which works on identifying and supporting future leaders of the organization and the broader Democratic community

    • National Committeemembers
      Represent YDWA to the national Young Democrats of America
    • WSDCC Representative
      Represents YDWA to the Washington State Democratic Party
  • Vice President of Operations
    Heads up the Operations Department, which manages YDWA’s day to day operation

    • Development Director
      Communicates with donors and raises money for the organization
    • Finance Director
      Manages the organization’s finances and bank account
    • Technology Director
      Manages the website
  • Vice President of Membership Engagement
    Heads up the Membership Engagement Department, which organizes on-the-ground activities throughout the state

    • Campaign Director
      Coordinates with endorsed candidates to provide YDWA support
    • Eastern Washington Director
      Provides support to local chapters in Eastern Washington and organizes a YDWA event
    • Western Washington Director
      Provides support to local chapters in Western Washington and organizes a YDWA event
  • Vice President of Government Affairs
    Heads up the Government Affairs Department, which manages the organization’s issue advocacy and lobbying

    • Advocacy Director
      Provides support for caucuses and helps them carry out annual projects
    • Policy Director
      Organizes issue education and lobbying events, including Lobby Day
  • Vice President of Communications
    Heads up the Communications Department, which provides the organization’s public face

    • Current Affairs Director
      Ensures the organization is responding to news stories and current events
    • Digital Media Director
      Manages long-term communications projects and campaigns

Under this structure, the Executive Board would consist of the President, the five department heads, and the National Committeemembers and WSDCC representative. All officers listed above would serve on the General Board, along with the caucus chairs and the chairs of the local chapters.

Making the caucuses more flexible

The current Constitution includes a defined list of caucuses, and caucuses can only be created or disbanded through an official constitutional amendment – a difficult and time-consuming process that prevents good caucuses from forming and allows inactive caucuses to remain on the books indefinitely, sometimes without any members at all!

The proposed changes would replace this defined list of caucuses with a process by which new caucuses can apply for chartering; old caucuses that don’t actively seek to recharter would be automatically suspended. Caucuses are allowed to apply to charter at any point in year by submitting three items:

  • A list of at least five members of the caucus, including a Caucus Chair
  • A one-sentence summary of the constituency the caucus seeks to represent
  • A paragraph-length description of activities the caucus might lead or participate in over the next year

Once the caucus submits these materials, and has their request approved by either the State Convention or the YDWA General Board, the caucus is officially chartered and can begin acting on behalf of YDWA – until the next State Convention rolls around and the chartering process begins again.

Changing the convention regions

The Constitution requires that State Convention locations cycle through geographic regions. As currently defined, these regions are massively imbalanced in both population and active Young Democrat chapters. This amendment would rectify that imbalance somewhat by replacing the current four county-based regions with five regions based on Congressional Districts.

Along with balancing the populations of the various regions, this change will also decouple convention locations from positions in the legislative cycle. Under the current system, every convention east of the Cascades falls on a long-session off-year, making it very difficult to get elected officials to these conventions. By switching to a five-year cycle, every region of the state will get the opportunity to hold a coveted election year convention!

Eliminating the Presidents Council

The Presidents Council was designed as a body through which the various chapter chairs could meet regularly and communicate with each other. However, it had no official duties, and technological advances like Facebook allow chapter chairs to remain in constant communication. The Presidents Council has become largely obsolete, and hasn’t met regularly in several years. This amendment simply reflects that reality by removing it from the Constitution.

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