I wanted to provide an update about the leadership teams of Effective Ventures Foundation USA, Inc. and Effective Ventures Foundation (UK). 

On EV UK’s board, Tasha McCauley and Claire Zabel will be stepping down from their trustee roles within the coming weeks. Tasha has served on the EV UK board since 2021 and Claire since 2019, and both originally wanted to step down from these roles approximately a year ago. They decided to stay on to guide EV through a trying time, determine future plans for the organization, and finalize our trustee recruitment efforts. EV UK is extraordinarily grateful for the service that both of them have provided over their tenures, and especially in the months since FTX’s collapse.

To fill their vacancies, Eli Rose from the EV US board will be moving over to the EV UK board, and he will be joined by Johnstuart Winchell before the end of February. Johnstuart is the Founder and Lead of Good Impressions, an organization providing free advertising marketing to effective nonprofits[1]. Before starting Good Impressions, he worked at Google and Boston Consulting Group. To see an overview of all EV UK leadership, please visit this page on our website

On the EV US board, Nicole Ross will also be stepping down from her trustee role in the near future. She has served on the EV US board since 2022, and as with Tasha and Claire, originally wanted to step down earlier but has stayed on to help with the organization’s governance until we could find new trustees, pass through some legal challenges, and set a course for EV’s future. EV US is immensely thankful for everything that Nicole has given to the organization and the larger EA community during her term. She will remain at EV US in her capacity as the Head of Community Health at CEA. 

Anna Weldon joined the EV US board on February 1st. Anna is the Director of Internal Operations at Open Philanthropy, and she previously worked as Director of Human Resources at Buffalo Exchange, a US-based recycled clothing retailer. She’s guided workplaces in the areas of manager development, change management, and organizational restructuring. An additional trustee will be joining the EV US board shortly, and we will make an announcement once their appointment has been confirmed. 

Finally, while Zach will be assuming the role of CEO of CEA, he will continue to serve as CEO of EV US. In this capacity, Zach will focus on leading CEA but retain his oversight responsibilities of EV US. I will continue to serve as EV UK CEO, and Zach and I will consult on what is in the best interests of both EV US and EV UK, and I will also be primarily responsible for the EV Ops team. To see an overview of all of EV US leadership, please visit this page on our website.

  1. ^

     Some of Good Impressions’ current clients include projects at EV US and EV UK. While the marketing services that Good Impressions provides are free of charge and therefore this relationship does not meet the bar of a legal Conflict of Interest, Johnstuart will be recused from any decisions that could conflict with his role as a service provider to EV’s projects (e.g. during yearly budget approvals). 

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Thank you for keeping us updated, Rob, even before the final trustee has been finalized, and thank you to all of you for your service.

Please feel under no obligation to respond to this, but if you are able to share: From the outside, it looks as if the EVs have really struggled to find new board members and I'm curious what the bottleneck is. Did very few applications meet your criteria? Did you actively reach out to lots of people but they said no? Etc.

I suppose I am not surprised by an apparent lack of interest from suitable candidates—the opportunity costs for such people will be high and frankly it mostly looks like stressful and thankless work. But I'm curious if there's anything the wider community could do to make the search easier next time.

Thanks for everyone's hard work on board assignments - I know they often go by uncompensated.

I could not help but notice that 3 women are stepping down, being replaced by 2 men and one woman. I know it is impossible to draw statistical conclusions from this in terms of gender trends, but still, my precursory understanding is that diversity in leadership, including board seats, help drive diversity "further down". I am thus concerned that the shifting gender balances here might make other DEI work more of an uphill battle. I am also sure you have reflected on this but would be curious if you could share any of your thinking on the topic? I also realize that since board seats are uncompensated, it places undue burdens on women in such positions who might also bear disproportionate caretaking responsibilities at home (one solution could be for board members' employers to see their work on the boards of other orgs ar part of their job - or maybe this is something EA orgs already do).

I do not mean to come across as too critical in this comment but have to make the comment in a bit of a haste so please forgive any lack of nuance I have not included. And I know EA orgs in general are super good at best practices in hiring - I love the way for example RP really tries to prevent biases from affecting their hiring decisions.

(My personal opinion, not EV's:)

EV is winding down and being on this board is quite a lot of work. This makes it very hard to recruit for! The positive flip side though of the fact of the wind-down means that the cultural leadership we are doing is a bit less impactful than it was say a year or two ago.

When we faced the decision of whether to keep searching or accept the candidates in front of us, I considered many factors but eventually agreed that it was ok to prioritize allowing the existing board members to leave (which they couldn't do until we found replacements), even if the new folks were not ideal in every conceivable way. I wished we had a better gender balance too, but ultimately since projects are spinning out, it's going to be much more on those individual projects and less on EV central to figure that out!

(I'm very excited about our new trustees despite this!)

Thanks Lincoln that's a good point - I had not considered that. I'm so used to thinking EV super big deal. Let's hope there is good diversity in the leadership in the various spun out organisations.

ultimately since projects are spinning out, it's going to be much more on those individual projects and less on EV central to figure that out!

The EVF Boards have to approve the new setup of the spun-out organizations, right? The projects themselves (e.g., CEA, GWWC) have no legal personality as of present. "Their" assets, IP, etc. belong to the EVFs, which must approve the spin-off proposals transferring those resources to a new organization.

It's not obvious to me why the new-organization Board composition is for staff in the to-be-spun-off project to decide, rather than the EVF Boards. Staff picking Board members is not a best practice in the majority of cases; at a minimum, there should be less deference to the staff nominations than there would be to an independent nominations panel. In other words, the EVF Boards probably shouldn't agree to transfer "the project's" assets over to a new non-profit corporation unless it is satisfied that appropriate corporate governance procedures are in place.[1] 

I think there are a number of presumptive criteria the EVF Boards could set for approval of a spin-off: spin-out Boards should have at least five members except for perhaps the smallest of new orgs; no more than 2/5 of Board members from one cluster of influence [2]; not all men; not all White people; not all US or all UK people, etc. If an would-be spinoff org wants a variance, it needs to make an affirmative case to the Boards as to why the advantages of a variance outweigh the reasons behind the presumptive criteria. 

  1. ^

    I would be more inclined to defer to, e.g., a non-binding GWWC director/trustee election conducted by GWWC pledgers even if I found the resulting slate a bit shaky.

  2. ^

    A bit challenging to define, but "the Open Phil cluster" might be an example.

I think there are a number of presumptive criteria the EVF Boards could set for approval of a spin-off: ... not all men; not all White people; not all US or all UK people, etc.

This sounds like a bad idea to me. Board membership decisions should be made on the basis of merit, not discrimination. As EV/CEA previously said: "CEA is committed to building an EA community where racism is unacceptable".

In addition to being immoral, I also think this would probably be illegal. The use of racial and sex-based quotas in employment is prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The case for boards is I think slightly less clear, but just last year a federal court struck down a California law that mandated racial quotas for corporate boards, and given the recent decision in Students for Fair Admissions vs Harvard I would expect SCOTUS to affirm this. While theoretically possible that racial discrimination quotas might be legal for board membership but not employment or education, I suspect the same rule will be applied in all cases.

This also applies to 'US or UK' because national origin is also a protected characteristic.

If an would-be spinoff org wants a variance, it needs to make an affirmative case to the Boards as to why the advantages of a variance outweigh the reasons behind the presumptive criteria. 

This seems quite backwards to me. Racial, sexual and national origin discrimination is presumptively immoral and presumptively illegal. We should require an affirmative case before engaging in discrimination.

In addition to being immoral, I also think this would probably be illegal. 

I think this would likely be legal. Your analysis is US-focused; I'm not well-versed in other jurisdictions' laws either, so I'll leave that to the side. The California case (and the UNC portion of the Harvard case) involved state action, which is absent here. Students for Fair Admission involved the Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq., which "prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance." In other words, Harvard agreed to play by those rules when it decided to accept federal funds.

As you mention, maybe one could stretch anti-employment discrimination law to cover board membership. But I think there's a fundamental problem with that approach: in this scenario, the EVFs aren't employing anyone! They are deciding whether or not to make grants of EVF assets and IP to wholly independent, newly formed organizations. You'd need a legal authority that made it illegal for EVF to adopt a policy of generally not making these kinds of grants to organizations whose boards were wholly lacking in certain forms of diversity. 

That's a tough sell to me, especially as EVF has elements of being an expressive association whose grantmaking decisions would thus be imbued with First Amendment protection. I tend to be pretty protective of non-profit organizations' ability to govern themselves in a manner consistent with their values, and tentatively think it's reasonable to say that an organization that values diversity should be able to have a diverse board if it so chooses.

Board membership decisions should be made on the basis of merit, not discrimination. 

I am not, by default, friendly to hard quotas. I said "there are a number of presumptive criteria the EVF Boards could set" (emphasis added), not that I would necessarily support deploying each and every one of them. The main point of my comment was actually to observe that the EVF Boards still were in the driver's seat on diversity issues and should not passively deferring to the projects regarding spin-off board composition.

I submit that Board membership decisions should be made based on the organization's best interests (and the public interest), rather than abstract "merit" per se. No one is entitled to be a board member. (I think the argument for an individual entitlement to university admission and especially to desired employment are stronger than for non-profit board membership.) I think a reasonable person could conclude that organizations and the public interest are generally better off when a non-profit's board does not consist, e.g., exclusively of White men like myself.

At the same time, I think that seeing a proposal for a board full of White males would be at least some evidence that the Board selection process had gone awry. Based on priors, what would the odds be that -- e.g. -- the best group of seven Board candidates available just happened to be a group of seven White men (like me)? A recent EA survey had 66% men, 76% White -- although to be fair the numbers were a bit higher for more established EAs. In that hypo: at a minimum, I'd want to see strong reasons to believe that the recruitment and evaluation processes gave everyone a fair and equal opportunity to be selected. I would not merely assume that the selection processes had no disparate impact on other groups or that unconscious bias had not seeped into the process somehow.

I am behind at life (having had major surgery earlier this week), so will likely not be in a position to engage further on this one.

But I think there's a fundamental problem with that approach: in this scenario, the EVFs aren't employing anyone! They are deciding whether or not to make grants of EVF assets and IP to wholly independent, newly formed organizations. You'd need a legal authority that made it illegal for EVF to adopt a policy of generally not making these kinds of grants to organizations whose boards were wholly lacking in certain forms of diversity. 

This does not seem to be a stretch to me. Your proposed strategy would allow for widespread circumvention of anti-discrimination laws; rather than directly discriminating in employment, organizations could repeatedly reincarnate themselves into a series of new organizations selected on racist criteria, thereby avoiding legal responsibility. I'm not an expert on the subject but it seems far more likely that this sort of 'discrimination by proxy' would also be ruled illegal; at best EVF avoids violating the rules, but all the assets and IP are now owned by a new organization which did violate anti-discrimination law and remains liable.

I am behind at life (having had major surgery earlier this week), so will likely not be in a position to engage further on this one.

Sure, happy to leave it here then.

I'm not entirely sure why you're being karma-bombed for this. I've done what I can to bring your score up towards 0. 

Agree or disagree, I don't think your comment breaks any rules or norms, and was well written with reasoning provided. Don't take the weird scoring to heart.

Thanks! I am quite concerned about DEI in EA and comment frequently about it (these comments, like here, often get ~30 votes and end up +/- 0). My guess is that some people perceive me to be on some sort of culture war mission. And I do think the dialogue I am inspiring with my comments can at times be uncomfortable and "detract" people from our super important work on animal welfare, global health, existential risk, etc. I think there is some truth to this but I think other factors are at play too, especially for me personally.

I also think many people reading posts like this have similar thoughts as I do (there was 2 disagree votes on the post before I commented - maybe they had the same concern?). But I think many people with these thoughts are concerned about commenting as it might put them at a disadvantage when applying for grants or jobs. If that is true, I feel even more compelled to use my privilege to make comments so that people can anonymously and easily just hit the upvote or agree button. Maybe we could have AI write different takes on posts in the future, in the same way you can have GPT pretend to be certain political characters - we already have the summary bot!

I am thinking about maybe writing a post about why I care about DEI so much, although I would not expect a lot of people to change their voting patterns.