Typically, a forum’s moderator serves for one year and is then succeeded by another member of the group. There are several approaches groups can take to selecting the new moderator.
- The current moderator offers to serve for another term of one year and the rest of the group agrees.
- The current assistant moderator automatically becomes the new moderator. (This option makes the most sense if the full group understood and agreed from the beginning that the assistant was “next in line.” This is not generally the case for assistant moderators selected during the orientation meeting at the beginning of the forum’s existence.)
- The current assistant moderator offers to become the new moderator but leaves it open for discussion and group consensus to decide if that is the best choice for the group.
- A secret ballot is held to select the new moderator (This is how Alumni Forums normally select their first moderator during their initial orientation meeting. In this method, there are not normally any nominations before the voting, but people can vote for themselves.)
- A volunteer steps forward, offers to serve as the next moderator, and the group agrees by consensus or acclamation to accept the volunteer’s offer.
There is no one right choice for every group every year. In the case of one Alumni Forum, the moderator for year 2 was selected by secret ballot and in year 3 a volunteer stepped forward and was enthusiastically endorsed by the group. In year 4, the assistant moderator said they could not commit to serve as moderator and the moderator for year 3 agreed to serve a second year.
When it comes time to pass the baton, it is generally best for the group to have an open and honest discussion of all selection options and agree by consensus on which approach seems right for the group at this time. The process may be different next year.
One final point: The current moderator is encouraged to think proactively about who might be his/her successor. Try to choose a member who meets the “ABC” criteria:
- “A” for Ability: A combination of high emotional intelligence and high executive functioning skills
- “B” for Bandwidth: The time to responsibly and reliably fulfill the role.
- “C” for Commitment: Overall engagement and enthusiasm for the forum and its benefits.
Socializing the idea with potential candidates in advance is usually more effective than just asking at a meeting “Who would like to be the next moderator?”