Step 2: Assess
"There are several people on the commission with little to no experience related to the commission work. However, they were looking to recruit a public health person, and my work is very closely related to the focus of the commission, so I’ve been able to take on the projects with the most significant health impacts."
– Member, Environmental Advisory Committee
Once you’ve identified a board or commission to join, think about the skills, experience, and connections you have that will strengthen your application. The Iowa Commission on the Status of Women has published an excellent guide on applying to boards and commissions, with worksheets to help you assess your skills and put together an application
Qualifications for appointment may vary depending on your location, local regulations that govern public participation, and the nature of the board or commission itself.
Level of technical knowledge
Some boards require specific skills, while many value the layperson perspective.
Connection to community served
Some groups (and some laws) may require that you be a resident or a local business owner, or that you have some other affiliation with the community. Involvement with relevant community-based organizations or interest groups may also be an asset.
Connection to policymakers
Because elected officials and agency staff exercise a lot of discretion during the selection process, having prior connections to local government can be a great asset. If you know someone who works at a relevant public agency, you might consider asking if they would be willing to put in a recommendation for you.
Underserved or underrepresented constituency
Agencies and outside organizations may actively try to recruit people from communities underrepresented in government, such as low-income neighborhoods or communities of color.
Conflict of interest
Applicants may be considered ineligible if they stand to gain significantly (financially or otherwise) from being appointed to a board or a commission, or if there are other circumstances that would prevent them from being impartial.