Turnout was sparse for the Meet the Board of Directors Night at the Humane Society of Indianapolis last Thursday. Eight board members and five members of the community showed up for the two-hour event designed to make the board available for questions and comments from the public.
People have raised questions about the HSI Board’s past dealings, but the response Thursday night left HSI Executive Director Martha Boden asking, “How many people are actually wondering?”
The Humane Society distributed a press release to local media as well as noting the meeting on its website in mid December. A story concerning the meeting also ran in NUVO. Information was provided to Stacey Coleman, who had advocated that HSI hold the event. “If we aren’t tapping everyone who is interested, how do we reach those people?” Boden said.
“It was disappointing,” said Christine Jeschke, board member of Spay Neuter Services of Indiana and Move to Act. “Was it advertised, or are people disheartened so much they’ve given up?”
As stated in the press release for the event, HSI wished to have an open forum to discuss “positive, forward thinking ideas.” But after brief introductions by board members, the conversation quickly turned to questions about HSI’s past. Stacey Coleman said, “I’m here because I have old wounds.” Coleman also said that the people she has talked to in the animal welfare community have turned away because the Humane Society hasn’t apologized or tried to address issues of the past.
Linda Brundage, Co-Chair of the Communications Committee, told Coleman that is what the Board is attempting to do through these meetings. Addressing Coleman, Brundage said, “By opening dialog we can hear stories from people and address the past.”
HSI held two similar meetings last fall where the public was invited to meet the staff members. The meetings had similar turnouts.