Start-up Decision Making and Early Trajectory

When starting any community-based activity involving a large number of participants and/or stakeholders, careful consideration must be given to initial decision making so as to develop strong trust at the outset, and to avoid the perception or reality that one or two individuals are steering the ship. In this regard, the early decision making process of the Alliance will be guided by its founding principles, with the writing team that assembled this document—based upon considerable community input—augmented by a few additional participants, selecting the first members of the Steering Committee via an open community call for participation. The Steering Committee thereby constituted will have the responsibility not only of guiding and governing the Alliance, but also selecting the leadership team, as noted below. Additionally, Steering Committee members will reflect the Alliance’s emphasis on unselfish service to the community with success and fulfilment defined via the success of others.

The Steering Committee will be notably diverse, not only in terms of race, ethnicity, and gender, but also with regard to the types of organizations represented, areas of expertise, levels of experience (junior, mid-career, senior), job function, and geographic regions. The Steering Committee will be composed not only of scholars but also of other key stakeholders in the community—the people to whom the Alliance can provide substantial and distinctive value. Initial members must have experience producing the types of outcomes to which the Alliance aspires, as well as experience building dynamic interdisciplinary projects and teams.

A primary task for the initial members of the Steering Committee, as noted above, is hiring the founding Alliance Director and establishing practices and procedures. The Committee will work with other stakeholders to draft a Director job description and will participate in the interview process. Once the Director is selected, other members of the leadership team will be added, with the Director taking the lead in recruiting and hiring, though with the approval of the Steering Committee.

Although the leadership team likely will be geographically distributed, the University of Oklahoma (OU) will serve as the initial fiscal agent for the Alliance given that a $3 million private gift is being made to OU to establish the Alliance and support its programs for the first few years of operation. Memoranda of agreements and sub-contracts can be executed between OU and the home institutions of Alliance leaders (Directors, staff) to effectuate funding transfer and ensure accountability. Additionally, the Alliance Director and Steering Committee are responsible for determining how Alliance funding is spent and for measuring the progress achieved through those investments.