NNOCCI Governance

NNOCCI Governance 

A. Overview

We are informal science professionals, climate scientists and allied professionals, who have public trust and large audiences, dedicated to using our platforms to have productive conversations about climate action. We operate as a supportive community of practice using and teaching evidence-based tools to inspire hope and action. Our mission is to change the national discourse around ocean and climate change to be positive, civic-minded and solutions-focused. The National Network of Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation (NNOCCI) is led by a Governing Council and staffed by Network Management. The Governing Council represents NNOCCI’s membership, and is made up of Committee members who accomplish the work of NNOCCI to further sustain, deepen, and expand the network. Network Management consists of staff at host institutions. 

NNOCCI Governing Council members share key values and operating principles. These values and principles can be found in the NNOCCI Charter and include being reflective, deliberate, collaborative, and mutually supportive; respecting the time it takes to get things done; commitment to continuous improvement and impact evaluation; commitment to keep our work grounded in climate and social science; and focus on social impact.


B. Governing Council

The governing body for NNOCCI is the Governing Council.  Specific functions of Governing Council representatives include, but are not limited to: 

  • Plan NNOCCI’s strategic direction and priorities.
  • Make network-wide decisions and policies on behalf of all network members.
  • Serve as ambassadors for NNOCCI to key constituencies (e.g., funders, policymakers, and those in similar roles), leveraging our collective and individual reputations to strengthen NNOCCI’s legitimacy and voice.
  1. Representation: Each member of a committee (executive included) and network management has one seat on the governing council.
  2. Decision-making: The Governing Council has the authority to guide the direction of NNOCCI. For decisions requiring a vote, each member will have one vote and a simple majority will decide the outcome. In case of a tie, the executive chair shall break the tie.
  3. Compensation:  Members of the Governing Council will serve without compensation, with the exception of the Executive Committee. Committee Chairs and Officers may receive an annual stipend for their work. Necessary travel for the annual retreat or other expenses incurred by members with prior approval of network management may be reimbursed with proper receipts if funds allow. 
  4. Conflict of Interest: Due diligence will be exercised by the Executive Committee and Network Management to ensure that members have no conflicts of interest in serving on the Governing Council, and to adjudicate any conflicts if they arise.

Figure 1. NNOCCI Governing Council Structure. It shows the committees that make up the governing body. Please find more information about each committee in section E below.


C. Host Institutions and Network Management 

Host institutions provide office space, management oversight, financial and grant accounting, and assistance with fundraising and proposal development.  The staff at these institutions will be known as Network Management. Network Management supports the entire network. Responsibilities are currently divided between two host institutions (New England Aquarium and Monterey Bay Aquarium), although additional hosts are possible. If a change is needed in host institutions, the decision is approved by the Governing Council. 

Host: New England Aquarium 

Network Management at New England Aquarium (hereafter NEAq) currently serves as the facilitator for NNOCCI grants and programs, and helps to ensure that NNOCCI has the staff, logistical and financial support it needs to operate. NEAq also provides office space for NNOCCI. The New England Aquarium is the current fiscal sponsor for NNOCCI.

The Network Director works in an advisory capacity to the network and has overall responsibility for the execution of NNOCCI grants and programs secured by NEAq and provides financial reporting to the network. The Director may serve as Principal Investigator for NNOCCI grants.  

The Network Manager works directly with the Executive Committee to plan meetings, develop agendas, secure venues for meetings, hire contractors, develop grant proposals, and implement funded programs. Additional staff and consultants may support the work of the network with operational, logistical, and financial support as needed. The Network Manager and other staff are hired by and report to the Director. The Director may delegate other duties to the Network Manager and other staff on an as-needed basis. 

Host: The Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Monterey Bay Aquarium (hereafter MBAq) maintains climateinterpreter.org and is staffed by a Climateinterpreter.org Manager (and other support staff and consultants as needed) to ensure the network has a communication platform for sharing coursework and connecting as a community of practice. Staff from MBAq facilitates the climateinterpreter.org platform needed for the network to collaborate, learn, and grow online. Monterey Bay Aquarium is fiscal sponsor of climateinterpreter.org and responsible for all of its staff.

The Climateinterpreter.org Manager works directly with the Executive Committee to plan content and mechanisms to support NNOCCI’s online presence at climateinterpreter.org. 


D. Officers

The officers of NNOCCI shall be comprised of 1) an Executive Chair-Elect; 2) an Executive Chair; and 3) an Executive Past Chair. Each officer will serve a 3-year term, with one year in each role, but shall continue until their successors are elected. Each term served begins in the role of Executive Chair-Elect, progresses to Executive Chair, and culminates with Executive Past Chair. An officer may not serve more than two consecutive 3-year terms. Officers guide the network including the work of committees and the Governing Council.

  1. Executive Chair. The NNOCCI Executive Chair shall preside at all Governing Council meetings and shall have the usual powers of a presiding officer. The Chair is empowered to act as the executive officer for NNOCCI undertakings and as the chief spokesperson for NNOCCI. 
  2. Executive Chair-Elect. The NNOCCI Executive Chair-Elect shall perform the NNOCCI Chair’s duties in the absence the Chair.  
  3. Executive Past-Chair. The NNOCCI Executive Past-Chair shall perform the duties of the Chair in the absence or disability of both the Chair and Chair-Elect. 

The Chair-Elect is elected annually, following the Fall Meeting, with their/his/her term commencing on January 1. The election process includes two steps:

Step 1: Soliciting nominations from the Network 

  • The Executive Committee is responsible for assembling the slate of nominees. 
  • The process starts with the solicitation of nominees approximately two months prior to the Fall Meeting and will be led by the Executive Past-Chair. This is done concurrently with committee applications.
  • The slate of nominees will be comprised of the top nominees, determined as follows:
    • Individuals with the highest numbers of nominations.
    • The Executive Past-Chair will obtain affirmation from each nominee on their/his/her willingness to serve as Chair-Elect candidates and will vet them for the Executive chair position.
    • If only one top nominee is interested in serving as Chair-Elect, the Executive Committee may recommend that a one-candidate ballot with a “write-in” field be used for the online vote or that a candidate acclamation ballot is used.

Step 2: Election from the slate of nominees 

  • The election from the approved slate takes place within one month following the Fall Meeting.
  • Each member of NNOCCI has one vote.
  • A simple majority will determine the outcome for the Chair-Elect. In the case of a tie vote or unusual situation, the Executive Committee will determine the most appropriate course of action. 

Both steps may employ an online process, such as the polling available on SurveyMonkey.com. 

Contingencies for Officers and Duties

If an officer is unable to complete their term, the following conditions apply:

  • If the Executive Chair resigns: The Chair-Elect will move forward to fill the position for the remainder of the term and then complete the following term as Chair. The Executive Committee will select a new Chair-Elect who will fill this role for the remainder of the 3-year term.
  • If the Executive Chair-Elect resigns: The Executive Committee will select a new Chair-Elect who will fill this role for the remainder of the 3-year term.
  • If the Executive Past-Chair resigns: The Executive Committee will decide whether to fill the position or let it remain unfilled until the end of the term. If left unfilled remaining duties of the Past-Chair will be filled by the current Executive Chair and Executive Chair-Elect.
  • If the Chair of a committee resigns: This position will be appointed by Executive Committee consensus until the end of the term. 


E. Committees 

Much of the work of NNOCCI is done in committees. This work entails a commitment of approximately 4 to 7 hours per month, although the work is not always steady in nature. A committee chair leads the work of each committee. Standing NNOCCI committees are described below. Members of the committees comprise the Governing Council. The NNOCCI Executive Committee may establish additional committees or ad hoc working groups (e.g. strategic planning, retreat planning, etc.) to assist NNOCCI in the transaction of its business. However, members of working groups will not become members of the Governing Council. Each committee member will serve a two-year term, with terms staggered so that half of the committee starts a new term each year.  Multiple terms may be served. A new application should be submitted for each term.

Members of all committees are expected to:

  • Be an active and engaged presence on monthly calls as well as additional subcommittee calls as needed.
  • Develop and execute new ideas that enhance the NNOCCI community
  • Take initiative or the lead on specific goals/projects within the committee 
  • Provide input and review content when needed
  • Be flexible in time spent on NNOCCI tasks depending on goals
  • Communicate and collaborate with other committees to move shared visions forward
  • Attend an annual NNOCCI Leadership Retreat each summer and additional virtual Leadership meetings. 

Committees include, but are not limited to the following:

The Training Committee maintains oversight of training programs and resources that grow and support a network of well-trained climate change communicators by:

  1. Coordinating curriculum development and revision for NNOCCI training at all levels
  2. Managing current trainings and resources 
  3. Serving as a training resource for the broader NNOCCI community

The Scientific Partnership Committee trains and sustains a growing network of scientists who are committed to productive public discourse surrounding climate and ocean change science, and to serve as a scientific resource for the broader NNOCCI community of science communicators. They aim to achieve this mission by:

  1. Providing tools and encouraging usage of good communication techniques by scientists
  2. Fostering a growing, collaborative community-of-practice within the climate science community that shares best practices and challenges of communicating climate science 
  3. Facilitating and empowering relationships and knowledge-transfer between scientists and science educators to amplify scientific messages

The Impact and Evaluation Committee works to better understand and advance NNOCCI's impacts in changing the national discourse on climate change toward a more positive, civic-minded and solutions-focused message. They support the efforts of a growing network of climate interpreters by:

  1. Collecting impact data
  2. Assessing network health and connectivity
  3. Working with consultants to continue to ground our work in research-based practices. 

The Member Engagement Committee works to understand the needs, capabilities and interests of network members; advocates on their behalf with the Governing Council; cultivates social connections between members; and facilitates continued participation in the network. The committee aims to make sure that all members feel supported through: 

  1. Identifying and facilitating opportunities for members to network in person and in virtual spaces
  2. Developing and maintaining a process for member onboarding and integration in the network
  3. Heightening the visibility of members and their work within the network

The External Engagement Committee shares NNOCCI’s message, research, and hope to a broader coalition of climate communicators.  They do this by:

  1. Developing and executing a strategic communications plan that fosters online conversation, connects new audiences to NNOCCI, and helps the network speak with one voice
  2. Cultivating relationships through management of our online presence - social media, website text, external facing presence on climateinterpreter.org, and external newsletters
  3. Working with other committees to develop materials & messaging to share our NNOCCI story and support recruitment goals 

The Executive Committee provides guidance and oversight to sustain, deepen, and expand the work of NNOCCI in a sustainable, scalable manner. NNOCCI Officers, Committee Chairs, and Network Management work together to:

  1. Lead the development and execution of the strategic plan and hold committees accountable for priorities.
  2. Work collaboratively to set up and maintain structures to deepen NNOCCI’s success.
  3. Be flexible, open, and reflective leaders.


  • The Executive Committee has the authority to act on consensus for urgent matters. Urgent matters are those that cannot wait for the next Governing Council meeting for a decision. 
  • For decisions requiring a vote, each Executive Committee member will have one vote and consensus will decide the outcome. 

Selection of committee members:

  1. Members of committees, other than the executive committee, will be selected through an application process. This process will be managed by the Executive Committee. 
  2. A committee chair must have served one year on the committee prior to becoming chair.
  3. Diversity will be maintained across all committees by aiming for:
    1. Regional representation from our NNOCCI regions
    2. Institutional representation from different types and sizes of institutions (i.e. zoos, aquariums, parks, academic, independent contractors)
    3. A balance of length of time involved with NNOCCI. 


F. Meetings

Being a national network, much of our work takes place virtually. We meet online by Zoom and organize our files/collaborate on the NNOCCI Google Drive. We acknowledge the need for consistency and collaboration, but understand that people’s lives ebb and flow. Following this set of ground rules helps our meetings be productive:

  • We all come into this group as equals
  • We can agree to disagree: disagreement is not disrespect
  • We will be reflective and open to change our approach as needed
  • We will respect each other’s time - start and end on time and adhere to the agenda
  • We are in this together and will help each other meet our goals
  • We are truly a support for one another
  • We presume positive intent

Governing Council

  • Governing Council will meet three times per year. 
    • Virtual meetings in Spring and Fall
    • A multi-day retreat in the Summer. 
  • Attendance is expected at at least 2 of the 3 meetings. 


  • Videoconference meetings occur monthly, or more frequently as needed, to be scheduled by each committee.  
  • Attendance is expected at at least half of the meetings.

Executive Committee

  • The Executive Committee will meet two times per month.
  • In an effort to maintain consistency and ongoing collaboration, attendance is expected at at least 4 meetings per quarter.
  • If a member of the Executive Committee is unable to attend, they may send another member of their committee to attend in their place.


G. Amendments

The Governing Council may recommend governance amendments to the NNOCCI Executive Committee.  This Governance document may be amended only by a majority vote of the NNOCCI Governing Council. 

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