Regional Leadership – The Regional Advocate

When Judge Foundry stood up, a question that was frequently asked was: What do you want/expect to get out of Judge Foundry?  When answering this question, many current and prospective members expressed desire for regional leadership.

A regional leadership structure was proposed and published for feedback prior to adoption by the board.  However, as we approach the beginning of the first nomination/election cycle, we want to have a refresher on what these structures are.  You can read the formal definitions here.  What comes below is both a more casual and more detailed description of some of the roles

In this context, “Leadership” wasn’t presented as members wanting a boss.  It was presented as members wanting a shepherd.  Someone to be out front; setting a destination, and then helping others get there. In the legacy program, regional leaders were “appointed” via a closed-door process.  With Judge Foundry, we have embraced a more democratic approach for choosing our regional leaders, and each region will be responsible for electing a leader.  The structure of the first election of Regional Advocates is found here.

In the Regional Leadership structure, there are three roles.

  • The Regional Advocate (RA) – This is the elected leader of a region, and the focus of the remainder of the article below.
  • Area Communicator (AC) – This is a role within a region appointed by the RA.  It is intended to have a more local scope than the RA, with a focus on making sure that local judges have important information available to them, and have a place to go when they are trying to answer the question “I just became a judge. Now what?”  An Area Communicator also exists to facilitate judges finding each other at the local level. The role of Area Communicator will have a separate article in the months ahead. Area Communicators tend to ‘self nominate’ by virtue of being the stellar communicator that they are.
  • The Regional Coordinator (RC) – This is a single appointed position and is the “owner” of the Regional Advocate definition. They represent no region, but rather serve to help Regional Advocates with their duties. In many ways, the role is more project management than a leadership role. The RC works to define what is and is not within the scope of the Regional Advocate position. They also monitor region size, and may kick off a regional restructuring as the result of changing judge population.  They also help on-board newly elected RCs, so they can smoothly transition into the role. At the moment, that’s me. At some point, the Board will select someone else. 

The Regional Advocate

A Regional Advocate is the elected leader of a region.  They provide a regional identity while working to foster growth in both quantity and quality of JF members. Regional Advocates are a region’s cheerleader both inside and outside the regional borders, and are advocates for their regional needs to the Judge Foundry board.  

Responsibilities of a Regional Advocate:

Advise the board of directors and the project managers on matters that may impact the region. Various projects may require insight or feedback into changes being considered.  When requested, RAs are expected to represent their regions in program-scoped project discussions.

Raise awareness of issues affecting the region to the JF Board.  Specifically this item is left to the RA to identify, and champion. These items will often be the platform the RA is elected on.  Ex: Region is too small and finding leaders is difficult.  Point out how a regional initiative is succeeding/failing.  Additionally RAs are able to recruit other judges to assist with regional initiatives. 

Request action by the board of directors on matters affecting the region. This is similar to the previous bullet, but it’s more about proposing the board adopt initiatives, rather than making them aware of concerns.
Examples: change of region boundaries, list regional initiatives that could be expanded/funded

Request exceptions for testing requirements or maintenance requirements for a judge in their region.  While the RA is not the individual to authorize exceptions, it is both appropriate and expected for them to advocate for judges that they feel meet the guidelines for a testing or maintenance  exception. RAs will submit requests to the appropriate Project Manager with a summary of why they feel the exception is warranted.

Provide public recognition. Judges do awesome things all the time.  Exceptional work done by JF members in the region towards the benefit of the region or Judge Foundry as a whole should be lauded.

Assist Conference Organizers to ensure quality presenters.  When a JF-sponsored conference is in the region, an RA is expected to work with the Conference Organizers.  They should ensure that an appropriate mix of knowledgeable and experienced presenters are chosen, but also help look for avenues to give opportunities to newer presenters. 

Provide information on a judge’s regional involvement for the purpose of L4/L5 interviews. The L4/L5 panel process is fairly involved, and spans many qualities.  An RA is expected to provide input to the panel for L4s/L5s in their region.

Serve as a mediator for disputes between in-region judges.  Not all disputes/issues necessitate formal punishment.  Many can be resolved by communication and mentorship.  An RA is the first line of defense for such items.  Any issues that require action beyond mediation, should be elevated to the board.

Appoint/Recognize Area Communicators.  Area Communicators (ACs) are individuals appointed by the region’s RA that are responsible for ensuring that relevant information is communicated to judges. This takes the form of welcoming L1s and making them aware of regional communication channels, utilizing regional forums to communicate updates to policy, upcoming votes, or large events within the region. 

What a Regional Advocate is not

While there is a similar structure between Regional Advocates, and the legacy program’s Regional Coordinator, the two positions are not the same. The old Regional Coordinator role suffered from scope creep as more and more responsibilities were added to the role.  In order to guard against “responsibility creep”, we are building in attributes that do not apply to an RA

An RA is not:

A Source of information for TOs regarding specific members.  An RA is still an individual, and can provide input to a TO as that individual, but it is not an official duty of an RA to provide information to TOs to make staffing decisions. Nor should it be a campaign “platform” that a candidate uses in an election.

A staffing organization for Tournament Organizers.  An RA is not required to find staff for a TO. They can help TOs, as can any individual.  But the RA position is not a staffing agency.  Judges should not default to referring a TO looking for a judge to the RA.

A disciplinarian.  An RA has no ability to suspend or censure another member beyond elevating an issue to the Board of Directors.

Responsible for testing or mentoring any specific judge.  Regional Advocates are responsible for the overall health of the region.  As such, putting a judge in contact with potential mentors is a responsibility. It is not their responsibility, however, to ensure that a specific judge is assigned or guaranteed a mentor.  That responsibility ultimately rests with the individual wishing to have a mentor. All members are free to decide which members to form a mentor/mentee relationship with.

All Aboard the Hype Train!

I’m really looking forward to seeing what this first class of Regional Advocates comes up with. This is a big “First” for this new era of judge programs, and seeing what others have in mind for their regions is exciting. In many ways we are going to be exploring new ground and creating new precedents; Figuring out what works and what doesn’t. 

It’s going to be a year of learning and feedback (hopefully constructive) and making the program’s goals more reflective of its member’s goals. By running for RA, you get an opportunity to set the regional vision for the future and invite others along for the ride. I am hyped to see who steps up to shoot their shot and maybe, just maybe, Lin-Manuel Miranda will write a song about you for his next musical.

What’s Next?

For Regional Advocates, the next step is to get some candidates to run.  You can check out the election committee’s article on how the election process will work, along with a schedule here.
And once you have read that you can self-nominate (that is, you can only nominate yourself, not others) as a candidate here:

You will be asked three questions:

  • At the end of your first six months a Regional Advocate, what does “success” look like?
  • What skills/experience do you bring to the role of Regional Advocate?
  • Describe your plans to recruit and utilize Area Communicators.

We also provide space for your nomination statement. Answers will be published according to the timeline outlined by the Election Committee’s schedule

Remember the deadline to nominate yourself is June 20th.

If you you are interested in the role and have any questions, you can reach out to me on the various social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Discord), message me through Judgeapps or email me at