Special election to be held for the office of President-Elect

Dear Members,

This message is to inform you that we will shortly be holding a special ‘snap’ election for the office of President-Elect, following the resignation of Dr. Daniel Palacios from the position on 18 January 2024, approximately one year into his 2.5-year term (note that current Board members have an extended term to accommodate the delay in the timing of the 24th Biennial).

Our Secretary, Dr. Jeremy Kiszka, has agreed to act in the role of President-Elect (as well as Secretary) as our Constitution provides a path for the Board to fill the vacancy of the President-Elect office through succession, with the Secretary succeeding into the role of President- Elect (Article XI). However, Article XI also states that an ‘officer who succeeds to the position of President-Elect will not succeed to the Presidency unless elected by the membership in a regular election.’

To address this requirement, the Board has decided to hold a special election so that the person elected to the office of President-Elect can then succeed to the Presidency.

Normally, elections are held following the Biennial Meeting and the General Members Meeting. However, this option is not favored by the Board because it could lead to the Society having both a new President and a new President-Elect commencing their terms simultaneously, with the elected President having very limited time (perhaps just a few months) to serve as President-Elect before becoming President (in July 2025). The Board considers that this is not enough time to become familiar with the complex and demanding responsibilities of the President. The President-Elect position, by design, straddles successive Boards in recognition of the multiple responsibilities that must be learned during the period of office (usually 2 years).

The special election will ensure the elected President-Elect has sufficient time to gain critical experience to effectively execute their responsibilities as President; enable the Board to address the loss of an officer quickly and move forward with their critical, time-sensitive duties on behalf of the Society; and resolve the current requirement from Article XI and appoint (via special election) a President-Elect that can ascend to the Presidency.

The special election will conform to the regular election process. This involves the Nominations and Elections Committee providing the Board ‘with a slate of no more than two candidates’ (General Operating Policies 4.8.1), and the holding of an open online General Members Meeting lasting 5 days, during which ‘additional candidates may be nominated by Society members’ (General Operating Policies 4.8.2), followed by ‘an electronic ballot’ (General Operating Policies 4.8.3).

The open online General Members Meeting will commence Monday 12 February and close at 12 midnight GMT on Friday 16 February 2024. This meeting will provide the window of time during which members may nominate a candidate for President-Elect.

All candidates for President-Elect must be current members of the Society, be willing to serve as a member of the Board of Governors and provide a background and vision statement of up to 300 words (General Operating Policies 4.8.2).

If you are nominating a colleague for this position, please ensure that the individual agrees to be nominated and meets the criteria listed above. Nominators, and the individual seconding the nomination, must also be current members of the Society.

To nominate a colleague, please send the name of the nominee, your full name and the name of the individual seconding the nomination to elections@marinemammalscience.org. Please direct the nominee to send their statement of interest and photo to the same email address with subject heading, “President-Elect Nominee Statement”.

The open online General Members Meeting will be followed by the electronic ballot (members to be notified by email).

I encourage any members considering being nominated for the position of President-Elect to contact the President to discuss the role beforehand.

The Nominations and Election Committee, with the approval of the Board, have put forward a single nomination for the position of President-Elect, Dr. Jeremy Kiszka (acting President-Elect).

Any additional candidates nominated during the 5-day open online General Members Meeting will be included in the ballot.

If any member has any questions regarding the election, please contact myself (president@marinemammalscience.org) or Katharina Peters (Nominations and Elections Committee chair, elections@marinemammalscience.org).

Kind regards,

Simon Goldsworthy
The Society for Marine Mammalogy

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