SOA Blog

Nominating Committee’s Work Determines Election Ballot

by Pete Hepokoski, Chairperson, Nominating Committee

PeteHepokoski Although voting in the SOA election doesn’t begin until Aug. 9, the 2010 Nominating Committee has been busy for several months already. I thought now would be a good time to give a high-level overview of the committee’s role and activities.

The Nominating Committee has 10 members, all approved by the SOA Board of Directors based on recommendations from its Leadership Development Committee. Our tasks are numerous (and in some cases mundane). I’ll focus my comments on the steps leading to our most visible and important assignment, which is to develop for the members the strongest possible ballot of candidates for the positions of President-Elect, Vice President and Elected Board Member. Our directive is to deliver 2-3 nominees for President Elect, 5-7 nominees for three Vice President positions and approximately 12 nominees for six Elected Board Member positions.

Some years, the Nominating Committee recommends that there be “reserved” seats to ensure proper member representation related to country of origin and practice area. In February the Nominating Committee recommended to the Board that there be no reserved seats in this year’s election, given that the demographics of current Board members whose terms continue into 2011 indicate a reasonably proportionate representation of the membership. The Board accepted our recommendation.

The Nominating Committee’s work began in earnest in February, when we issued open invitations, via the SOA website and SOA News Today, to Fellows to submit their names for consideration and/or to nominate others. In addition, we e-mailed invitations to Fellows who have held various volunteer leadership roles to solicit their interest. Responses were due in March.

Our focus in April and May was to evaluate interested nominees. They completed written questionnaires, in which they summarized their professional and volunteer backgrounds and responded to specific inquiries about their skills and goals. We interviewed each by telephone. And we solicited feedback about them from members of the current Board. Following evaluation of this input, we will present at the June 26-27 meeting of the Board our proposed ballot of candidates for election. The election ballot that is approved by the Board will be announced to members in late June.

The skills and dedication of the pool of potential election candidates is impressive indeed, and we should all appreciate their willingness to serve. It is unfortunate that many of them, due to sheer numbers, cannot be on the 2010 ballot.

I am confident that you will be impressed by the qualifications of this year’s candidates, and you will have many opportunities over the next few months to learn about their backgrounds and how they would approach their service on the Board.

Members help secure the future of the profession by casting votes in the election. I hope, if you are qualified to vote, that you will exercise that right beginning Aug. 9. If you have any questions or comments about the nomination and election process, please send a comment to this blog posting or write to elections@soa.org.

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6 responses to "Nominating Committee’s Work Determines Election Ballot"

  • Tom Bakos says:


    I am sure the Nominating Committee does a great and thorough job and suspect that, with respect to some positions, it is often difficult to convince enough qualified members to run – because of the time committment. As you note, however, many members in response to the Nominating Committee’s call for candidates submit their own names or are nominated by other members.

    As you know the SoA Bylaws make it clear that FSA’s have a right to vote, hold office, and make nominations. It appears that your description of the Nominating Committee process effectively treats FSA-member made nominations as “suggestions” to be considered by the Nominating Committee as they attempt to narrow down the candidates for each open position to the numbers you have described. The SoA Bylaws language would reasonably cause a candidate nominated by an FSA to expect his or her name to appear on the ballot for election without any filtering done by the Nominating Committee.

    For example, the American Academy of Actuaries with Bylaws language nearly identical to the SoA’s in this area does exactly that. A member nominated from the floor at the Annual meeting of the Academy is recognized as a candidate for election with the only requirement being a willingness and ability to serve.

    While I appreciate the work of the Nominating Committee to produce a list of candidates for election in an orderly process, can you explain how the Nominating Committee process you have described is in keeping with the principles and requirements of the SoA Bylaws.

    Also, while there are no reserved seat candidates for this election, when there are reserved seats the SoA runs these elections by identifying candidates who satisfy the reserved seat requirement and awarding a “win” (assuming a qualified reserved seat candidate does not win by having one of the highest absolute vote counts) to the candidate among those who qualify for the reserved seat who has the highest number of votes. Reserved seat voting only applies to VP and regular Board candidates and may result in a board member being elected with, at worst, the second fewest number of absolute votes. How does this match against the Bylaws requirement that candidates receiving the highest number of votes be elected?

    If reserved seats are deemed necessary, wouldn’t it be better to have separate elections so that candidates with the largest number of votes in each section would win?

  • Bruce Schobel says:

    Question for Pete: You say that the Nominating Committee “delivers 2-3 candidates for president-elect.” But the election guidelines call for three PE candidates, and three times in the last decade (including last year), we’ve had four. Why not lean in the direction of more rather than fewer candidates and allow the voting members to do the selecting, rather than the Nominating Committee? The members have already demonstrated the ability to deal with four PE candidates. Couldn’t they deal with five?

    Minor correction to Tom’s note: Reserved seats apply only at the regular director level. Seats are never reserved for VPs. However, if a VP (or PE) is elected who satisfies the reservation, then it no longer applies at the regular director level.

  • Pete Hepokoski says:


    Thanks for your questions and comments. We seek and welcome nominations from members, as well as members nominating themselves. We want to identify and consider all possible potential leaders. Members who’ve been nominated for office are not automatically granted a place on the ballot. They are included in the pool of potential candidates and the Nominating Committee gives all nominees the same thorough review and consideration.

    You noted that the Bylaws give Fellows the right to make nominations and suggest that a person so nominated could “expect his or her name to appear on the ballot for election without any filtering done by the Nominating Committee.” That interpretation – which could result in the SOA ballot containing dozens, if not hundreds, of names – is incorrect. It disregards other Bylaws language (in Article IX) which makes the Nominating Committee responsible for nominating candidates for election. Legal review of this question by internal and external counsel confirmed that our Nominating Committee’s role in screening nominees and determining which will be candidates for election is the correct interpretation of our Bylaws and fully complies with applicable law.

    The current nomination/election process has been in place for five years. The SOA formerly had a two-ballot process with a large number of initial nominees. In response to a review of governance practices, including member feedback on the election process, in 2006 the new nominating process was created. It was specifically designed to eliminate the first ballot, relying instead on the Nominating Committee to identify the strongest candidates and to narrow the field for a more effective and efficient single ballot process. It’s been used successfully in every election since.

    The Nominating Committee is following our established election process and is confident that we will produce a strong and diverse ballot that will give members excellent choices and serve them well.

  • Pete Hepokoski says:

    Bruce – Thanks for your question. The SOA’s Election Policy, reviewed very recently by the Board, specifies the number of ballot slots the Nominating Committee should fill and clearly indicates the SOA’s desire to have three candidates for President-elect, which the Committee plans to provide.

  • Michael Kula says:

    “Members help secure the future of the profession by casting votes in the election. I hope, if you are qualified to vote, that you will exercise that right beginning Aug. 9”

    I find these words to be rather disingenuous given the nomination process and its outcome.

  • Mary Pat Campbell says:

    At what point do the membership get to determine the ballot?

    Kind of hard to influence the ballot as a member if all we get each year is a pre-selected slate and have no ability to exercise our right to make nominations.

    But perhaps we could institute a formal petition process similar to what was used for nominees to the CAS Board this year. With such a process, it would indicate a certain minimum interest in a candidate from members, and we need not worry about the election process dominated by insiders.

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