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Can the founder of an organization who is a board member bypass the bylaws and make decisions on his own?

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Hello little Ben,
I need some advice. I was appointed president 2 weeks ago; however the former president and founder of this chapter, now on the board directors. She left me with some issues that I don't know how to fix. First, she broke the bylaws by electing a new committee that doesn't meet the bylaws requirements.
The current committee brought it to her attention in our recent meeting and things got nasty. She made it clear that no one can make any important decisions or amend the bylaws without her approval. Then she addressed a letter without my consent to all committee members and accused the vice president of breaking the bylaws rules and being ethical and professional and she was going to take legal actions against the vice president, if necessary. As the Board of Director does she has the right to pass over me the President? She refuses to let go. What can I do to without creating more CHAOS to the group?
Thank you,
Blanca

Dear Blanca,
First, you are dealing with someone that sees this chapter as her baby. Mothers often have trouble cutting the cord and letting go. Second, if this is a chapter of a national or state organization, then I suggest that you approach higher ups on how to handle this. Third, get out the bylaws and read them! Bylaws empower people to do things. You will find there what powers the president has versus the board of directors. The president may not have that much power but to preside at meetings. You also need to see if she must give approval to amend the bylaws. After you read the bylaws, then I suggest that you go out to lunch with this person and point out what she can and can't do. If the bylaws give her the power she says she does, I think I would run the other way. Who wants to be a member of chapter that has a dictator at the helm?

cheerio,

Little Ben


Question submitted by Blanca Mendoza on June 7, 2014