A Statement from the NHFAPA Interim President Airial Sillanpaa

September 26, 2019

Dear Families,

Thank you for asking for an update regarding NHFAPA. It is my pleasure to share with you the many positive changes of our association. During the past year NHFAPA experienced challenges and transitions which caused the organization to evolve into an improved place to advance the mission of helping fostering and adoptive families.

NHFAPA experienced some very public leadership challenges and conflicts. These challenges were due to differences of opinion on what NHFAPA was and should be. No one person is to be blamed; rather it involved a combination of differences in visions and nonprofit governance.  

In the winter of 2019, the Charitable Trusts Division of the NH Attorney General’s office, which regulates and assists nonprofits, expressed concerns regarding the organization’s leadership and governance practices.  The Director of that office offered to help NH FAPA with resources and guidance.  That office offered to be involved in a mediation of the differing visions for NHFAPA.  For those of you unfamiliar with mediation, it is a confidential process in which people with differing views come together to collaboratively work out their differences.  The confidentiality allows the participants to emerge out of the process in a blame-free environment and move forward collectively championing the organization’s mission. Lack of open discussion with the members of NHFAPA was a result of legal confidentiality, and not lack of transparency.

The process was highly successful. In May the group elected an Interim Board of Directors, including people with previously differing views and those like myself who were not involved in the prior conflict. We appointed Interim Officers as well. I am honored to be elected President. New leadership has been in place for four months.

Informed by the Center for Nonprofits resources, the inspiration from other NH based charitable organizations, the Interim Board considered many governance models. The Board approved a set of modern bylaws and Articles to be proposed to the NHFAPA members at an all-member meeting to be scheduled in November. Many fundamental agreements about implementing our mission have been made, I am happy to report.

You will be informed of the date for the upcoming all-member meeting in November. The Interim Board values your input and hope that you will participate.

We are also seeking people who have the interest, skills and knowledge about our community to serve on our new Board of Directors and as an Officer to replace the Interim Board and Officers. Soon I will be distributing a description of the legal duties of Board members and Officers to help inform your decision.  I would love to meet anyone interested in serving on the board or as an officer. If you are interested in serving on the NHFAPA Board, please contact us at nhfapaboard@gmail.com. Include your name, background, and why you want to be part of NHFAPA.   

Should you not have the time to devote to governance positions, please consider sharing your talents as a volunteer for a specific task or as a member on a committee. We need graphic designers, event planners, fundraisers, grant writers and other skills.

While working on governance and strategic planning issues, NHFAPA continues to serve its community.  We are also still accepting grant requests. If interested, you can print an application at nhfapa.org. More programs will be rolled out later this year and early in 2020.

I feel as though I strapped on our 501c3 sneakers the day after being appointed interim president and haven’t stopped pounding the pavement since.  The collaboration has been inspiring. Working together to rewrite bylaws, and articles, coordinating processes and financial plans and putting together teams to advance our mission all have been a significant undertaking. I’m excited to show the membership our suggestions. I am also very proud of the progress this volunteer board has made, and the measurable change we are steadily working toward. While it is an honor to be in an interim leadership position this association, the greater honor is collaborating with others and ultimately helping children in foster care enjoy safe and happy permanency plans.

Warmest,

Airial Sillanpaa
NHFAPA, Interim President

Information about Airial. I joined the NHFAPA board as a “member at large” in October of 2018. As a former business owner, corporate vice president, and active member of the non-profit community on New Hampshire’s seacoast, I have had the honor to work with a variety of 501c3’s. I have been a licensed foster parent since 2009. Currently, I have six children, ages 9 and under.