Northwest Dharma Association 
Board of Directors Meet for 
2014 Strategic Planning Meeting

Written by: Tim Tapping

The board of Northwest Dharma Association, left to right: Damien Abel, Tim Tapping, Joe Pearl, Timothy, Jacqueline Mandel, Jeff Hadashi Miles, Elizabeth Sikes, Paul Gerhards,Koro Kaisan Miles.

The board of Northwest Dharma Association, left to right: Damien Abel, Tim Tapping, Joe Pearl, Administrator Timothy O’Brien, Jacqueline Mandel, Jeff Hadashi Miles, Elizabeth Sikes, Paul Gerhards, Koro Kaisan Miles.

Our Oct. 13 meeting of the Northwest Dharma Association board of directors kicked off in the morning with a group meditation. We had 90 percent attendance, with a couple of board members not present due to their community obligations.

We met at Bodhi House in Olympia, Wash., a central location that made it easier for board members from Portland and from Seattle, as well as from further away, to gather.

After reviewing the last meeting’s minutes, we dove into the financial report. This showed a net gain in revenue for Northwest Dharma Association, but also revealed that we were somewhat over budget last year.

Genko Kathy Blackman helped the teachers navigate some complex discussions

Damien Abel is the newest board member, and vice president.

This information led to a discussion about groups that are not current on their member dues, and the board agreed that board members will contact member groups and get them caught up.

We then talked about the timeline and cost projection for the new website format, which will complement the newly revamped Northwest Dharma News. An important realization emerged out of our discussion about the Buddhist resources we offer through the site: Our member groups are the resources.

I know, this seems obvious, and with so much out on the internet, it is easy to mistake the forest for the trees.

What does this mean? Our member groups are an incredible resource of the Buddhadharma, for those newly approaching the dharma, and for longtime practitioners.

We elected and installed the officers for 2014, and elected a new board member, Damien Abel.

The new officers for 2014 are:

  • President: Tim Tapping
  • Vice President: Damien Abel
  • Secretary: Paul Gerhards
  • Treasurer: Elizabeth Sikes

After lunch, we moved into the 2014 planning session.

The first topic was budget. We have created a new donation program called the Mahasangha Mala, whereby an individual donates $9 per month via an online, recurring service. This adds up to an auspicious $108 per year.

The entire board has signed up for this and we need 40 additional pledges to break even. Our goal for 2014 is for 108 donors to join the Mahasangha mala, which will fund the website, pay our expenses and give us funding to organize more events.

Outgoing board president Richard Miles, right, passes the gavel to incoming board President Tim Tapping

Outgoing board President Koro Kaisan Miles, right, passes the gavel to incoming board President Tim Tapping.

It was recommended and decided to have two annual gatherings this year, one in Portland and one in Seattle.  The idea was to make the annual event(s) accessible to more people.

Jacqueline Mandel has ably organized the Portland event, while Tim Tapping takes inspiration from her work and is organizing the Seattle event. More on these events is in this winter issue of Northwest Dharma News, and will be on the website as the events approach.

The last topic was long-term planning.

Several important issues face the board, including succession, staffing, and a stable, reliable income.

Providing for orderly succession of board members and staff is essential. Since these are volunteer positions, it is important that new people become involved and that there is a good overlap of experience and new energy.

Northwest Dharma Association is alive today due to the incredible dedication of our volunteer staff — David Forsythe, Steve Wilhelm, Timothy O’Brien and George Draffan — and all the work they’re doing behind the scenes. We appreciate their wonderful work!! The Northwest Dharma Association needs to move to a model where we can have paid staff to assist our volunteers.

It was also noted that the board needs to revise the bylaws to reflect the new “leaner” structure of the board and organization.

The Mahasangha Mala program is a great first step toward having a program of recurring donations, which will support the group membership dues as the economic foundation of the association

We also reminded ourselves that the Northwest Dharma Association is one of just three groups in the world promoting Mahasangha in their regions. We deeply believe in the communities of Buddhist practitioners.

About the Author: Tim Tapping
Tim Tapping is president of Northwest Dharma Association. He practices in the Vajrayana tradition at Sakya Monastery of Tibetan Buddhism in the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle. He also is on the Sakya board, teach classes there, and contributes to several programs. These include the Ambassador program, which reaches out to people new to the sangha; a weekly outreach meditation program for at-risk youth, and the annual sangha campout. Tapping also co-lead a twice-weekly meditation group at Expedia, where he works.