Ushering Them Off With Great Fanfare

I have read a fair number of articles about transitioning problematic board members off a board, but I have to credit Vu Le for laying out a relatively detailed process for accomplishing the task.  Le’s approach, which he terms the “Plaque and Sack,” requires essentially killing the board member with a ton of kindness.

I wouldn’t imagine it is 100% effective, but it is intended to help mitigate any negative repercussions that might result.  It is also meant to be used in extreme cases after much thought and consideration.

Basically, it involves identifying a high visibility event at which to honor the board member with an award for all they have contributed and accomplished, both with the organization and in the community.  The occasion should feel prestigious and significant and involve lionizing the honoree as a pillar, supported by a video montage of people likewise praising them as they retire from the board.

Le admits that perhaps the hardest part of the whole process might be swallowing anger and resentment while organizing the occasion.

9.Try to suppress your bitterness and resentment: I know it can be hard to watch someone get praised publicly when they have been terrible for the mission, but close your eyes to keep them from rolling, …

And that, my friends, is the art of the Plaque and Sack. Besides board members, it may work on difficult volunteers and donors. Again, do not deploy this lightly.


About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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