What's going on in FIRST Upper Midwest?

I wrote an automated script that scrapes the various FIRST district and region websites and then compiles a list of district leadership names and contact information for a project I’m working on. While debugging the script, I noticed that the Upper Midwest leadership list changed significantly from one day to the next. Does anyone know why a few names fell off the list?

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Which names? Maybe it was a data error?

I don’t have a “backup” of what the page looked like last time, but what my script is reading matches what’s on the page now. There are two names missing:

  1. Ryan Swanson
  2. Mike Voglewede

I won’t go into specific details for any individual. However, I will say that the board is set up with two-year terms, with half the board expiring each year on June 30. That provides a natural point for individuals to consider their continuing participation. As you can imagine, there are many reasons for people to reduce their participation - conflicts with other commitments, personal life changes, time availability, etc.

There was a board meeting on July 19 (a regularly scheduled meeting), and the subsequent changes on the website (July 23) reflected the results of that meeting. As a note for anyone interested, @Doug_Frisk is also on the board, there’s just been a delay in getting his bio ready for the website. Hopefully we’ll get that up soon!

Can you go into detail on how people are voted back on the board when their term expires? One shouldn’t be able to vote for ones self to be on a BOD.

Looking at the FUM site it seems that FUM is only focused on FRC. Can you explain why that is?

Also looking at the BOD members on the site, I find it questionable and somewhat a conflict of interest to have married couples on a BOD. Obviously everyone on the board as currently shown is all about the best interest of the individuals you are representing and I’ve never had bad interactions with anyone on the current FUM BOD, its just hard to have a diversity of ideas when its almost guaranteed that married couple are not going to vote against each other.

edited to clarify that it is a married couple that is the issue, not people whom are married.

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Maybe they hate each other? Keeps things spicy.

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Conway style

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Also looking at the BOD members on the site, I find it questionable and somewhat a conflict of interest to have married individuals on a BOD.

Is this legal? I completely missed that when I went through the list the first time.

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Huh…quick google search says it should be avoided.

Avoiding Conflicts of Interest on a Nonprofit's Board of Directors.

Makes sense, but not sure how strict that is when it doesn’t affect the majority vote. However, it looks like it should be avoided when possible. I’d imagine that in this situation, it would serve the population better if there was greater diversity of opinions.

“If the spouses function as a perfect unit, the effect is much like having one board member with two votes. Spouses serving on the same board can only avoid these problems by being conscientious and as objective as possible.”

Personally I think it would be in the best interest of the region to not do this, but someone will come along and tell me it isn’t any of my business.

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Why can’t people with no stake in it just stay out of it.

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Regular board membership changes are not very unusual, here’s a graphic of how the VirginiaFIRST dba FIRST Chesapeake board has evolved over time.

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FIRST in Upper Midwest (FUM) board chair and co-founder here. When we set FUM up, we were super intentional about having the direction of the organization set by the community. That’s why we created an independent nominating committee for board members that is open to anyone who is a Woodie Flowers Finalist and is currently mentoring or volunteering in the area.

It’s certainly something you pay attention to when two people from the same family apply for nonprofit board positions, but it’s neither uncommon nor illegal. In this case, the nominating committee had the opportunity to get the perspective of two super-committed volunteers – one who is a senior mentor and the co-chief volunteer coordinator for all of FRC, and the other who is a very well known FRC event volunteer, mentor to multiple teams, involved in many other FRC activities, and a distinguished academic career both as a researcher and a leader. It would be hard to identify two people who have more impact on the program in our area. The nominating committee was unanimous in proposing both of them to the board.

@EricLeifermann FIRST already has successful program partners for their other programs in our area. FUM was created to fill a gap specifically for FRC.

@Akash_Rastogi I’d like to tell you that Laurie and Yoji have the Kelly Ann/George dynamic going, but sorry to report that they seem to get along pretty well.

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That’s why we created an independent nominating committee for board members that is open to anyone who is a Woodie Flowers Finalist and is currently mentoring or volunteering in the area.

Are you saying that to be nominated to the BOD you have to have won a WFFA? Or is that the requirement for the nomination committee?

Also, i thought Yoji mentored 1816? Is this true? If it is you have 3 BOD members from the same team? How can that be a diverse representation of the teams in MN if you have over 200?

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Hi Steve,

Would you be able to comment in regards to FUM’s current and future geographical representation? Is FUM involved in areas/states outside of Minnesota anymore?

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Nothing has changed from our end, Tyler. We’re continuing to be focused on FRC, in particular supporting the regional planning committees as they game out scenarios for the '21 season.

It’s well known that FIRST is updating its field operating model, but there hasn’t been a combined discussion with the MN/SD/ND groups on a specific plan going forward. One thing we have going in our area is that the current partners are pretty successful, so I’m sure any future conversation will necessarily place a high priority on continuing that success.

Does that mean MN is finally getting districts?

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Your post got me thinking about whether I’d be able to find any information from before writing my script. I was able to find a snapshot on the internet archive of the page from 07/19 that shows not only Ryan Swanson and Mike Voglewede, but also someone named Rachel Clark. There’s another snapshot from 07/21 where Rachel is missing as well. I started developing this script as a fun side-project, but it looks like actively keeping track of this information might be a good thing.

Looking at the listed FuM board of directors, It seems that there is currently a lack of diverse geographical representation. Roughly 55% of MN teams belong to the 7 county metro area, meaning the rest of the state comprises the other 45% of team count. FuM BoD has 8 members from the geographical area containing 55% of teams while only 1 member from the geographical area representing the other 45% of teams

Are there any plans to try to have more representation of the other geographical areas that are present in FuM being reflected by the board of directors? (ND, SD, and other regions of MN.) Roughly 55% of MN teams belong to the 7 county metro area, meaning the rest of the state comprises the other 45% of team count.
It would be interesting to see a representative on the board for each one of the regional hubs within FuM.

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Obviously not, that means losing the “Best regionals in the world™!”

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So the FUM board lost 2 of their 3 alumni members in the last two weeks?

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