SCB Pivots to Become a Truly Global Network

In 2020, SCB invested in an in-depth nine-month process to examine how our organizational governance, operations and structures might be improved to best serve the global membership and mission. The Society engaged the organization design firm nRhythm to examine the organizational health of SCB by conducting membership surveys and interviewing staff and group leaders. 

With this information the global board and staff participated in a series of design workshops led by nRhythm to explore ways of improving organizational health. During these workshops we affirmed SCB’s commitment to design new global governance structures that align informal and formal power, address historic power inequities and operationalize equity, inclusion and diversity. We are creating a truly global collaborative network with decentralized decision making and resources that empowers regional sections, chapters and members to advance conservation science, practice and policy.  

SCB is striving to transition to new governance structures and operations to create the desired network in a way that encourages participation by the membership and does not disrupt current operations and services. Over the next three years SCB will be working with nRhythm to transition to new structures in a way that recognizes the diverse and unique opportunities and challenges of SCB’s sections, chapters, working groups, committees and members.   

Below is the summary of key goals and structural recommendations for the global network, followed by our invitation to provide questions or feedback on the transition process. 

Summary of Recommendations 

Key Goals 

1. To enhance support and collaboration of sections, chapters, working groups as change agents in order to leverage these groups for global impact.  

2. To advance equitable access and participation in SCB’s services, leadership and governance in a way that lifts LGBTQ, BIPOC voices, perspectives and wisdom and addresses historic power inequities so that SCB increases problem solving capacity, grows membership, increases global representation, and builds capacity in geographies with the highest biodiversity. 

3. To innovate membership inclusion, growth and services to provide value and enhanced collaboration, diversity, connection and service to our global community/network.  

4. To innovate conferences and training in a way that links science and practice, increases accessibility for science and knowledge, and connects people beyond their narrow focus, so that we create distinctive, authentic experiences – making SCB a professional home for a broad range of disciplines.   

Structural Recommendations 

1. Operationalize SCB’s commitment to equity, inclusion and diversity through global governance structures that aligns informal and formal power and addresses historic power inequities.

2. Shifting from a hub and spoke governance structure to a truly collaborative global network structure by decentralizing decision making, operations, resources and risk and empowering semi-autonomous sections. 

3. Implementing a revenue/cost sharing model between SCB global functions and semi-autonomous sections that enhances local flexibility, decision making and oversight. 

4. Empowering sections to manage membership and local chapters in a way that recognizes each section’s unique context, opportunities, and challenges. 

5. Building capacity of the SCB staff to serve as a global services office in support for the entire global network.

On behalf of the Society’s Transition Implementation Group, thank you for your patience and support. 

Dr. Adina Merenlender
Society for Conservation Biology

SCB Transition Implementation Group:

Dr. Tony Lynam        
SCB President-Elect

Dr. Karen Root
SCB North America Section President

Dr. Israel Borokini
SCB Africa Section President

Warren Sander, MBA

Dr. Jeff Su
Managing Director, nRhythm

Nathan Spillman
SCB Director of Membership and Communications