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Trustee Role Description - Chair of Forum

Role title: Chair of Forum
Accountable to: Board of trustees
Term of office: Four years

The British Society for Immunology (BSI) is a dynamic membership organisation and learned society, with a mission to drive scientific discovery and make a positive impact on health. With over 4,400 members and a remit across academia, industry and healthcare in the UK and globally, we run many valuable initiatives, to connect our community, champion career development for our members and to catalyse change for the benefit of research, clinical delivery and public health.

Forum is the Society’s ‘think tank’ committee which ensures the views of the membership are fed into Society activities.  Areas of particular focus include education and careers work, public engagement, media, policy and public affairs, and partnership work. Membership of Forum is diverse and designed to represent the breadth of the Society’s membership. The Chair of Forum is responsible for leading the discussions in Forum – this includes working with staff to ensure both that Forum’s views are fed into relevant BSI projects and that Forum members proactively bring issues of importance to the membership to be discussed at meetings.

The Chair of Forum is also a Trustee of the BSI. The Board of Trustees has up to 10 elected members, and four co-opted individuals with specific expertise. Trustees make active and dynamic contributions to the Board, using their wide-ranging skills, knowledge and experience to ensure good governance and the development of the strategy for the Society. They feed into wider activities that help enhance the work of immunology. 

Elected Trustees include the President, Treasurer, Chair of Forum, Clinical Secretary, two Early Career Trustees and four General Trustees, all are members of the Society. Co-opted Trustees are appointed by the Board for their skills and expertise in finance, legal matters and other areas deemed necessary to ensure that the duties and obligations of the Board are fulfilled.  

Trustees are appointed for four years, may be elected for a second term, and may not serve more than two consecutive terms. They are expected to attend four Board meetings per year held both virtually and in person in London. These are unremunerated positions but expenses such as travel are met by the Society.

Board meetings are chaired by the President (or a deputy Trustee) and are attended by the Chief Executive and other senior staff. Other appointed Secretaries, Chairs of sub-committees and Editors-in-Chief of the Society’s journals are invited to attend Board meetings to report on BSI activities annually. 

Trustee responsibilities: 

  • Ensure that the Society is carrying out its purposes for which it is set up, as set out in its governing documents, the Articles of Association and the Rules.

  • Comply with the governing documents and charity law requirements, having training where needed and taking advice on charity or company law changes.  

  • Are responsible for the sound governance of the Society, ensuring openness and following good charity practice, working with other trustees to make balanced decisions.

  • Work with other trustees to agree and set the BSI’s five-year strategy, setting annual strategic and operational goals and evaluating the delivery of activities and goals against annual targets. 

  • Manage the BSI’s resources responsibly, ensuring that there is proper financial oversight and responsibility for expenditure and investment policies.    

  • Oversee the risk register to ensure that all risks are regularly recorded, understood and acted upon where necessary.

  • Ensure that the mission and the values of the Society are safeguarded. Oversee the effective operation of the Society, working with the Chief Executive and senior management team to guide and improve the delivery of activities.

  • Appoint the Chief Executive and monitor their performance, carrying out an annual appraisal.

  • Work with the BSI committee members and staff to advise and guide on various areas of Society’s work, attending Congress where possible and attending meetings with external bodies. 

  • All Trustees must understand and accept the legal duties, responsibilities and liabilities of trusteeship.

In addition to compliance with statutory duties, every Trustee should use their specific skills, knowledge, or experience they have to help the Board of Trustees reach sound decisions. 

Specific responsibilities of the Chair of Forum:

  • Chair quarterly Forum meetings both in person in London and virtually

  • Chair Forum in an open and collaborative manner in keeping with the BSI’s values

  • Liaise with the Education & Careers and Public Engagement Secretaries to ensure that there is good insight into their areas of activity

  • Encourage all members of Forum to contribute ideas to the development and progression of BSI projects

  • Consider and assess the breadth, depth and impact of BSI led initiatives and identify gaps that need more consideration

  • Ensure, through proper governance, that there is representation from different career grades and regions to enable Forum to be truly representative

  • Ensure that feedback from Forum is fed through into Board of Trustee discussions

Person specification:

  • Previous experience of chairing at a committee level

  • The Chair of Forum must be a resident in the UK

  • An interest in engagement with communities outside the membership including policy-makers, funders, charities and the public

  • A wide awareness of the issues pertinent to the many diverse interests of BSI members

  • A demonstrable commitment to the Society and to immunology

  • Fair, independent judgement and a willingness to speak their mind

  • Adhere to and promote the BSI Code of Conduct

  • Aligned with the BSI values – ambitious and committed, evidence-based and responsible; collaborative and inclusive; agile and energetic

  • An ability to work collaboratively and collectively, accepting consensus

  • A willingness to deal with conflicts of interest and loyalty

  • Must use reasonable care and skill, making use of your skills and experience and taking appropriate advice when necessary

  • Should give enough time, thought and energy to your role, for example by preparing for, attending and actively participating in all trustees’ meetings

  • A willingness to engage with members, act as an ‘ambassador’ for the BSI and promote its values and purpose