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RespectAbility Board Member Vivian Bass Discusses Board-Staff Relationships with RespectAbility Fellows

Vivian Bass with RespectAbility Staff and Summer 2019 Fellows smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Vivian Bass with RespectAbility Staff and Summer 2019 Fellows

Rockville, Maryland, August 26 – Vivian Bass, a member of RespectAbility’s Executive Committee, addressed the RespectAbility National Leadership Fellows on July 30. She discussed three key factors to guide board members and staff in achieving a professional yet open relationship.

The first is mutual respect. As an avid member of RespectAbility’s board along with many other boards, Bass has had plenty of experience with handling these relationships. She said that an organization won’t go anywhere without mutual respect between its board members and staff. Although board members and staff work closely together, there still needs to be a “clear line in the sand” so no one oversteps or gets blindsided by another, she said.

Vivian Bass and Shivani Gandhi smiling together in front of the RespectAbility banner

Vivian Bass and Shivani Gandhi

The next two factors go hand in hand, Bass remarked, because of their dependent relationship: transparency and accountability. Trust, validation and discretion all fall under the transparency category and are vital for a functioning organization. Any business relationship needs to have a strong bond of trust, especially between a board and staff member. Building trust will ultimately make the organization more efficient as well as more successful.

Accountability is extremely important, especially today, with every mistake potentially shared on social media. From an organization’s perspective, the things you say can make or break you, she said. If ever asked a question to which one doesn’t know the answer, then it’s best to respond honestly and answer the question after finding the information. Holding others as well as oneself accountable will keep everyone in line and make sure everyone is doing the best they can do.


RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. This summer, 11 Fellows had the opportunity to learn from a variety of guest speakers. Learn more about the National Leadership Program and apply for the next cohort! Contact for more information.



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Shivani Gandhi
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