In a Nov. 17, 2020, letter to Mennonite Brethren churches in Canada and the U.S., national directors Elton DaSilva (CCMBC) and Don Morris (USMB) announced the formation of a new Multiply Board of Directors and the board’s decision to implement all 18 recommendations submitted by the Multiply Review Task Force, including the recommendation to transition Randy Friesen out of the role of president of Multiply, the MB North American mission agency.
The Multiply Review Task Force was formed following Multiply’s merger and consequent demerger with C2C Network, a series of events Morris and DaSilva previously described as “turbulent” and a “painful and confusing chapter” in the history of Multiply. The task force was formed at the request of the Multiply board and appointed by the Executive Boards of both USMB and CCMBC. This task force, composed of four members from Canada and four members from the U.S., engaged the service of John Radford of Transpectives Consulting Inc. Radford conducted an in-depth analysis of Multiply’s culture, board functionality and senior leadership.
In an Oct. 7, 2020, letter to churches, DaSilva and Morris announced that all current Multiply board members would be replaced. New board members were named in the Nov. 17 letter.
New board members
The Canadian Conference of MB Churches executive board appointed Chris Stevens, Ontario; Bill Seinen, British Colombia; Wendi Thiessen, Manitoba; and Maryanne Berge, Saskatchewan. David MacLean, British Colombia, is also a Canadian representative but was appointed by the previous Multiply board.
The Leadership Board of the U.S. Conference of MB Churches (USMB) appointed Yvette Jones, California; Aaron Halvorsen, Kansas; Vivian Wheeler, Washington; and Fred Leonard, California. Additionally, Ed Boschman, current International Community of Mennonite Brethren treasurer, will be the ICOMB representative to the Multiply board, and Morris and DaSilva will represent the national directors of the owner conferences.
At its first board meeting, November 9–10, 2020, the Multiply board chose to operate with a co-chair system with each chair representing USMB and CCMBC, respectively. Elected officers comprising the Executive Committee are David MacLean (co-chair), Fred Leonard (co-chair), Wendi Thiessen (chair of the Financial Audit Committee) and Aaron Halvorsen (secretary).
Wrestling with recommendations
After a day of orientation, the Multiply board formed committees and spent most of the second day wrestling with the 18 recommendations submitted previously by the Multiply Review Task Force. The board approved all recommendations, including the recommendation to transition Randy Friesen out of the role of president of Multiply.
In their letter, DaSilva and Morris say, “The board chairs communicated this decision to Randy, which Randy graciously accepted and responded with the following: ‘After processing the Multiply review task force recommendations and your decision to transition to a new leader, I am supportive of your discernment. My prayers are with the board as they lead us into the next season of fruitful ministry together.’
“There is an extraordinary meeting scheduled for December 1, 2020, to create a transition process that is both honoring to Randy and beneficial for Multiply as an organization,” DaSilva and Morris write. “USMB and CCMBC wish to express our sincere gratitude for the many years Randy has served as president of Multiply.”
The letter also listed the 18 recommendations regarding the Multiply board, leadership, governance and culture. The recommendations are listed below.
DaSilva and Morris conclude their letter by saying, “The Multiply board has agreed to keep its owner conferences updated with quarterly reports. Please remain in prayer for Multiply, our global workers and its supporting staff as we enter a season of transition.”
Read the full letter here.
1) That the role of the Board Chair be redefined to include qualifications of a person capable of leading a complex organization.
2) That a new Board Chair be appointed who has the qualifications and time to lead the Board of a complex organization.
3) That the composition of the Board be carefully discerned to ensure that members understand their governance responsibilities and have both the capacity and experience to exercise them. That the Board consist of a blend of experienced/ successful business leaders, veteran missionaries, invested pastors, those with financial acumen—all strongly committed. With the number of positions currently open, that the opportunity provided by term transitions be used to work at this Board reformation so that continuity and new skillsets can be balanced.
4) That the Board implement a Board Executive Committee to help lead the Board and provide regular and timely Board connection/continuity/accountability with the President.
5) That the Board seek professional development coaching.
6) That the accountability measures and acknowledgment to the CCMBC and USMB conferences be reviewed and strengthened. That there be regular (e.g., quarterly) agreed-upon reporting, structured for each Conference.
7) That the Multiply president/CEO job description be re-worked to include expertise in organizational leadership, team health and stakeholder relationships.
8) That Randy Friesen be released as president of Multiply and a new President be sought as the next step in transition. (The current board would like to note that we appreciate Randy’s investment in Multiply over his term and are committed to a transition that cares for Randy and his wife, Marjorie, and the future health of the mission)
9) That there be a review of the executive limitations of the Multiply board, clarifying what items must be ratified by the owners (currently not in bylaws)
10) That there be strengthened regular reporting and accountability to the owners – ie. quarterly reports designed for each conference.
11) That the board member nomination process be reviewed and clarified—the role of the national bodies in the nomination process and that of the Board Governance Manual appear to be in conflict. A defined Nominating Committee needs to be determined.
12) That board member term limits be considered (currently not in by-laws)
13) That an ICOMB representative be officially included as an ex-officio member of the board in order to ensure international voices are available pertaining to decisions made on behalf of global ventures.
14) Close attention being paid to the concerns of owners, team members and constituency.
15) Balanced, honest disclosure in its communications.
16) Attention to the bias impacts of having its headquarters in one region.
17) Doing regular cost and risk analysis around decisions.
Senior-Level Leadership Culture (prior to demerger)
18) Inviting challenge and critique rather than seeking to intimidate into compliance.