Volunteer for the Board of Directors

OHS Board of Directors: Is it for me?

Recruitment is closed.

Group of people sitting in a boardroom talking

What is the board of Directors?

The OHS Board of Directors is the governance body of the Ottawa Humane Society (OHS). On behalf of the community, and representing the members of the OHS, the board provides the strategic direction, resources, and high-level oversight for the organization to be successful in achieving its mission and goals.

Who serves on the OHS board?

Board members come from all walks of life. They share a commitment to the OHS and the animals in our care and our community and have skills that are required by the board. Ideally, but not exclusively, candidates are sought with board and/or volunteer experience at charitable/not-for-profit organizations, and have expertise in some of the following areas: community leadership; equity, diversity and inclusion; financial/accounting; legal or regulatory; governance; management/strategic planning; charitable or not-for-profit experience; evaluation/performance management; fundraising; human resources/recruitment & retention; privacy/security; information technology; communications or public relations; government relations; and specialized skills as needed.

The OHS is committed to diversity. We recognize that equity, diversity and inclusion will strengthen our work, and we are committed to addressing systemic barriers to equity in our board composition. As such, we encourage candidates to self-identify, if they wish, particularly those who are members of underrepresented or disadvantaged groups including, but not limited to women, Indigenous Peoples (First Nations, Inuit and Métis), members of racialized groups, persons with disabilities, and members of LGBTQ2+ communities.

Other characteristics include:

  • Age: By law, board members must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Education: Formal education is not a requirement for all board positions, though it is desirable to have certain professionals on the board to ensure an appropriate mix of perspectives at the table. Many candidates may possess a combination of work and personal experience that provides them with the necessary knowledge and understanding of the financial, administrative, ethical and policy issues that may be discussed at the board.
  • Knowledge/Awareness: Candidates should possess an interest in animal welfare and should understand the need to demonstrate a public image that is in keeping with the philosophies and goals of the OHS.
  • Personal Suitability: It is desirable to have board members who are willing and have confidence to challenge proposed policies, activities, etc. of the organization. The ability to challenge must be tempered with recognition of the need to work in a cooperative and collegial manner and demonstrate a style that values consensus and unity.
  • Financial Commitment: All board members are expected to make a personal financial commitment to the OHS that is meaningful to them.

What is expected of me as a Board member?

The board of directors usually meets once every quarter for a full-day meeting on a Saturday. Reports, background materials, and other documentation are sent to board members several days before the meeting, and board members are expected to have read the materials and have their questions and comments prepared.

The successful candidate must be willing and able to devote six to eight hours per month to board duties. Board members are generally elected for a two-year term, and may be re-elected for two more consecutive two-year terms totalling six years.

The main responsibilities of the OHS Board are to:

  1. Determine mission and purpose. It is the board’s responsibility to create and review a statement of mission and purpose that articulates the organization’s goals, means, and primary constituents served.
  2. Select the president and CEO. The board must reach consensus on the president and CEO’s responsibilities and undertake a careful search to find the most qualified individual for the position.
  3. Support and evaluate the president and CEO. The board will ensure that the president and CEO has the support he/she needs to further the goals of the organization.
  4. Ensure effective strategic planning. The board must actively participate in an overall strategic planning process and assist in implementing and monitoring the plan’s goals.
  5. Monitor and strengthen programs and services. The board’s responsibility is to determine which programs are consistent with the OHS Mission and monitor their effectiveness.
  6. Ensure adequate financial resources. One of the board’s foremost responsibilities is to secure adequate resources for the OHS to fulfill its mission.
  7. Protect assets and provide proper financial oversight. The board must assist in developing the annual budget and ensuring that proper financial controls are in place.
  8. Build a competent board. The board has a responsibility to articulate prerequisites for candidates, orient new members, and periodically and comprehensively evaluate their own performance.
  9. Ensure legal and ethical integrity. The board is ultimately responsible for adherence to legal standards and ethical norms.
  10. Enhance the OHS’s public standing. The board should clearly articulate the OHS’s mission, accomplishments, and goals to the public and garner support from the community.
  11. Manage risk. The board must assess and address risk to the organization and ensure timely and appropriate responses.

Since discussions may involve confidential or sensitive issues, board members are asked to sign the OHS Confidentiality Agreement and an agreement to adhere to the OHS Ethics Policy.

Board members are expected to attend most, if not all, major OHS events.

In addition to the quarterly meetings and periodic events, board members are expected to serve on at least one committee that typically meets six to ten times a year.

Successful candidates who are not already members of the OHS must become members.

What are the Board committees?

Much of the up-front, hands-on work that occurs prior to any issue coming to the board is done through the work of board committees. The committees take the time to research issues, identify and evaluate options, and make recommendations. The board depends on committees to present succinct information and recommendations upon which it can base decisions at its monthly meetings.

The OHS Bylaws provide for four standing committees: executive committee, finance & audit committee, nominating committee and governance committee. Their roles and responsibilities are set out in the OHS Bylaws and board-approved terms of reference.

The executive committee is comprised of the officers of the OHS: the chair, vice-chair, treasurer, secretary and the president and CEO, as well as a member-at-large from the board.

The finance & audit committee oversees the finances of the OHS. In addition to this duty, the committee may also take on other projects such as establishing policies and procedures about financial matters.

The nominating committee recruits and screens potential new board members. Under the OHS Bylaws, the nominating committee is composed of at least three board members.

The governance committee develops sound governance policies, procedures and techniques in order to develop and enhance the governance of the OHS.

The board is authorized under the OHS Bylaws to establish other committees depending on its priorities for the OHS.


  1. Download and complete an application package
  2. Submit completed application form and resumé to the OHS manager: volunteers.
  3. If selected for an interview, OHS staff will arrange an interview with the committee.
  4. Be available and attend a scheduled interview.
  5. The selected candidate will be asked to join the board. The nominating committee will present all candidates as part of the slate for the board at the OHS Annual Meeting for approval by the membership.
  6. Nominees will be asked to participate in orientation sessions.
  7. Nominees must pass a police check.

What's in it for me?

There are many rewards to serving on the board of directors:

  1. Sharing with a team in the accomplishment of doing something important for the OHS and Ottawa’s animals;
  2. Using your skills in new ways, addressing very interesting issues;
  3. Learning more about the Ottawa Humane Society and how it operates;
  4. Meeting people who share your interests;
  5. Developing new skills;
  6. Developing your volunteer knowledge and skills;
  7. Being associated with an organization that has been helping your community since 1888.

If you would like more information about what is entailed in being a member of the board, please contact:

President & CEO
Ottawa Humane Society
613-725-3166, ext. 272

You can also contact the OHS manager of volunteers to learn more about other volunteer opportunities:

Manager of Volunteers
Ottawa Humane Society
613-725-3166 ext. 231