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Constitution

THE CONSTITUTION OF THE

GHANAIAN ASSOCIATION OF MINNESOTA

Dated, this 27th day of November, 1988

Amended (1st Amendment) on the 30th day of October, 2005

PREAMBLE

We, the people of Ghanaian heritage and our relations, residing in the state of Minnesota in the United States of America, recognizing and believing in the need to unite to pursue common goals that will enrich our lives, to contribute towards the economic growth of Ghana, to maintain and promote our heritage and culture, and to maintain the friendship and community aspect of our social lives, do hereby form this organization, and enact and adopt this constitution.

Article 1: Name of Organization

The name of the Organization shall be the Ghanaian Association of Minnesota (GhanAM), herein after referred to as the Association.

Article 2: Aims and Objectives

The Association’s aim is to accomplish, to the best of its abilities, and for the benefit of its members and beneficiaries, the objectives outlined in Section 1 through Section 5.

Section 1:  Membership Support

Activities that allow members to support and help one another.  Examples, but not limited to the following:

 1.Helping members and their families in times of births, deaths, outdoorings, weddings, illnesses, job hunting, etc.

2.Helping qualifying students meet financial and academic needs when appropriate.

3.Assisting with the orientation of new members to the community.

4.Providing members with the appropriate help and counsel on Immigration issues.

Section 2:  Information Sharing and Communications

Facilitating information sharing and communication.  Examples, but not limited to the following:

1.      Publication of Membership Directory.

2.      Publication of a GhanAM newsletter.

3.      Information on Immigration matters.

4.      Current events in Ghana.

5.      Information about key Ghanaians and other Ghanaian Associations in North America.

6.      Linkage with key persons in Ghana, including former Minnesota residents.

7.      Employment and business opportunities in Ghana.

Section 3:  Education

Educating, or improving knowledge in all areas deemed useful to members.  Two major categories will be considered:

Section .3.1:  General Education

Examples, but not limited to the following:

1. Orientation to American culture/living.

2.Insurance (renters, life, etc.), financial planning, health issues.

Section 3.2:  Cultural Education

1.Specific topics or areas related to Ghanaian and African cultural heritage (e.g., Ghanaian languages, dances, music, customs, and history.)

Section 4:  Social Activities/Functions

Activities designed to allow members to socialize with one another, and/or with other members of the community at large; as well as celebrations of significant Ghanaian national events, and fundraiser events. Examples, but not limited to the following:

1.      Independence Celebration

2.      End of year get-together

3.      Picnics

4.      Games

Section 5:  Helping/Supporting Ghana

Participation in activities and projects which impact positively on both the short-term and long-term socio-economic, educational, and health advancement of Ghana.  In the course of accomplishing this objective, there shall be no direct involvement with the partisan political machinery in Ghana; neither shall there be any direct involvement with the policy formulation process of the presiding Ghanaian Government.

Should the need arise for GhanAM to involve itself with matters directly impacting Governmental policies, the approval of the General Body must be obtained prior to initiating any such actions.

Examples of support activities are:

1.Collecting and sending books, medical supplies, etc. to Ghana, for the purpose of enhancing the educational and health standards of Ghanaians.

2.Assisting potential Ghanaian entrepreneurs with technical expertise, industrial equipment procurement, or foreign partnership information.

3. Providing economic assistance to Ghana, in the event of a disaster or a crisis in the country.

Article 3: Membership

Section 1:  Membership Categories

Three membership categories shall exist within GhanAM: Regular members, Associate members, and honorary members.

  Section1.1:  Regular Membership

All peoples who are Ghanaians by birth or naturalization, people related to the above by marriage, and people who are descendants of same are eligible to become regular members of the Association.

Section1.2 Associate Membership

This category is open to Ghanaians outside the state of Minnesota, and peoples of African descent, and all others who seek to support the aims and objectives of the Association.

Section 1.3 Honorary Membership

Any individual not covered under Section 1 or 2, who makes a significant and/or outstanding contribution towards the goals of the Association, or seeks to support the aims and objectives of the Association, is qualified as a candidate for honorary membership.  Such persons will be nominated and voted on by the General Body.

Section 2:  Enrollment Procedure

To become a Regular or Associate member, an individual must complete an application form, and pay a one-time enrollment fee.

Section 3:  Active Membership

Registered members will be classified as active, based on the requirements set forth by the Association.  Active membership definition shall be based on dues payment and other requirements deemed appropriate and voted upon by the general body.

Article 4: Structure and Offices

 This article outlines how all operations of GhanAM will be carried out, in order to achieve its objectives.

Section 1: Structure

The Organization is composed of the General Body, Executive Committee, Board of Directors, and Standing Committees (Appendix A).

Section 1.1:  General Body

The General Body is made up of the general membership, subject to the rights and responsibilities outlined in Article 7.  This Body has final authority and responsibility to set broader organizational goals, and policies through careful deliberation culminating in the exercise of members’ votes.

Section 1.2:  Executive Committee

The Executive Committee will comprise: President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Financial Secretary.

The President shall serve as Head of the Executive Committee, Head of the Association, and as Head of the Board.

The functions of The Executive Committee are as follows:

1.Provide governance to the organization and exercise legal authority on behalf of the organization.

2.Serve as officers of GhanAM, having the right to represent the Association.  Example: Banking relations, Governmental Agencies, Relations with private organizations or People outside of the Association.

3.Formulate general policies for approval by the organization.

4.Coordinate the activities of Standing Committees.

5.Set priorities, and make key decisions for the Association.

6.Ensure communication among the Executive Committee, the Board, the General Body, and the Standing Committees.

7.Conduct general meetings.

8.Form Ad Hoc committees.

9.Take appropriate disciplinary action against any member found engaging in improper conduct, or, any practices contrary to the objectives of the Association.

Section 1.2.1.  President

The President shall:

1.Serve as Head of the Executive Committee, Head of the Association, and as Head of the Board.

2.Act as the spokesperson of the Association.

3.Convene scheduled meetings in consultation with the Executive committee.  At each meeting, the President shall preside, OR, arrange for other members of the Executive committee to preside in the following order: Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Financial Secretary.

Section 1.2.2 Vice President

In the absence of the President, the Vice-President assumes the responsibility as head of the Association.  Additionally, the Vice-President shall chair committees on special subjects as designated by the Executive.

Section 1.2.3 Secretary

The secretary shall:

1.Send out meeting announcements, Communicate minutes and other information to members

2.Maintain all pertinent files

3.Run the Administrative office including office equipment, Post Office Box, etc.

4.Maintain record and status of membership

5.Communicates with members with regard to changes in membership status

 

Section 1.2.4 Treasurer

The Treasurer shall:

1.Collect membership fees and dues, and funds obtained from other sources, and make timely deposits into the Association’s checking and savings accounts

2.Disburse funds in support of the Association’s activities and projects, including investments for, and redemption of financial obligations incurred by the Association.

3.Develop and publish financial statements of the Association to the General Body.

4.Maintain books and proper records to accurately track and periodically report financial activities consistent with generally accepted accounting principles.

5.Provide copies of all receipts and financial records to the Financial Secretary, on bimonthly basis.

6.Participate in the development of yearly budgets in support of the Association’s activities and projects.

7.Send out annual dues payment receipts to members, for tax purposes, before January 31st.

Section 1.2.5 Financial Secretary

The Financial Secretary shall:

1.Be responsible for ensuring that all the financial systems of the Association are functioning appropriately.

2.Lead the annual budget preparation process.

3.Work with the treasurer to prepare quarterly financial reports to the Board

4.Be responsible for the Association’s Federal and State tax reporting

5.Service the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and other financial institutions, as directed by the Board or the President.

6.Serve as the head of the Audit Committee.

Section 1.3. Board of Directors

The composition of the Board shall be as follows: Executive Committee, and up to 10 members elected by the general body of the Association.  The Board shall have up to fifteen, and not fewer than seven members.

Section 1.3.1. Functions and Duties

The Board plans and approves the organization’s Philosophy.

1.It also reviews the organization’s performance in achieving its objectives, and sustaining its Philosophy.  Annually, the Board assesses the environment and approves the organization’s strategy in relation to its objectives.

2.The Board of Directors shall monitor, appraise, advice, support, reward, and when necessary recommend change of Board Members.  The Board assures members that the status of the organization’s strength and manpower planning is equal to the requirements of the long-range goal.

3.The Board shall work with the Executive Committee in setting up policies, and implementing those policies.

4.Members shall function as heads of Committees.  The president may appoint a co-chair for a committee, where deemed necessary.  A co-chair may be appointed from the Board, or the General Body

5.The Board shall operate as checks and balances among the various organs of the organization.

Section 1.4.  Standing Committees

Section 1.4.1 Communications Committee

  Overall Objective

To ensure that all pertinent information gets disseminated effectively and in a timely manner to the Organization’s members and other interested parties, in fulfillment of aims and objectives of the Organization.

Specific Objectives

1.Communicate the association’s gatherings, policy changes, and happenings within the community and elsewhere.

–  Meetings, social functions and other programs, births, deaths, current affairs in Ghana, immigration matters, etc.

  2.Target the appropriate broad groups to ensure communication effectiveness

–  GhanAM members, non-GhanAM Ghanaians, African organizations, African Americans, The Ghana Embassy, Colleges and Universities, Other Ghanaian associations, etc.

3.Utilize the most appropriate and effective systems and tools of communication

–  Letters, phone tree, individual phone calls, e-mail, Website, Newsletter, personal visits, print, radio and television media, etc.

Section 1.4.2 Education Committee

This committee will educate members on educational objectives set forth by the Association.  This committee may collaborate with the Ghana Embassy, Community organizations, State and local agencies on topics, and educate the membership when appropriate.

Section 1.4.3 Fundraising Committee

This committee has the primary responsibility of raising funds for the Association.  It may organize events, campaigns, apply for grants, organize special activities at GhanAM functions, or organize separate activities to raise such funds.

Section1.4.4 Membership and Benefits Committee

This committee is to review the benefits for members on yearly basis, and recommend changes that promote increase in membership and increase in retention of members.

The committee shall continuously seek new ideas to meet the needs of members.

It works with the appropriate committees to advertise the benefits at events and other gatherings in order to educate members and non-members about the Association’s benefits.

Section 1.4.5 Social Committee

The Social committee shall be assigned the responsibility of organizing social activities, and other undertakings as the Association deems appropriate.

Examples:  Independence Celebration, Picnics, etc.

Section1.4.6 Youth Committee

The Youth Committee has the following functions:

1.   Collate and keep a database of all youth of Ghanaian heritage and aspirations.

2.   Organize activities to expose the youth to Ghanaian cultures.

3.   Nurture the youth to aspire to leadership positions in the Association.

4.   Work with parents to enable the youth to adjust to the American and Ghanaian cultures.

5.   Recognize youth contributions to the development of the Association.

Section 1.4.7:  Selection to Standing Committees

1)Standing Committees shall comprise the General Membership.

2)Committees will be headed by Board members.  The president may appoint a co-chair for a committee, where deemed necessary.  A co-chair may be appointed from the Board, or the General Body.

3)Members shall be encouraged to participate in one or more of the Standing Committees.

Section 2:  Ad – Hoc Committees

The Executive Committee may appoint Ad-Hoc committees to perform specific tasks, anytime the need arises.

Section 3:  Audit Committee

This is an independent committee elected annually by the General Body.

1)Presents periodic reports to the Executive Committee.

2)Periodically reviews all financial records to ascertain that transactions are proper, valid, and have the proper authorizations.

3)Conducts periodic audits of the Association’s activities and programs to ascertain their effectiveness in achieving the goals and objectives outlined in Article 2.

4)Makes recommendations on proper control systems and processes, as needed, to ensure sound management of the Association’s funds.

Section 4:  Elections and Terms of Offices

1.All Board members and the Executives shall serve a three-year term (barring special circumstances such as resignation, impeachment, etc.), but are eligible for re-election for a second term.  After the second term, Board members and Executives will be required to take a one-year absence before they can be re-elected

2.General elections, when due, will be held at the fall general meeting (Article 6, Section 1) to elect new or incumbent officers.  Elections shall be scheduled at a frequency which ensures a minimum of 4 (four) Board positions are ongoing.

3.   A minimum of 30 percent of active members present or by proxy constitutes a quorum for holding all elections.  To be eligible to vote, a member shall be in good standing, as defined by the Association.  Elections will be won by a simple majority of votes achieved.

4.   To be eligible to stand for an executive or a board position, a candidate should have been a registered regular member of the association for at least six months prior to the date of the elections.

5.   By-elections will be held to fill any Executive office which becomes vacant before the regularly scheduled elections.  By-elections will also be held to fill vacant Board positions, when needed to satisfy the minimum membership requirements as defined in Article 4 Section 1.3.  Plans for by-elections must be communicated to the General Body a month or more before the actual elections.

6.   If the Presidency becomes vacant, the Vice President will assume the position of President.

Section 5: Election Committee

This committee is an ad-hoc committee, and will be assembled prior to general elections.  Membership is voluntary and will come from the General Body.  The minimum number of members shall be 7 (seven).  The functions of the committee shall be to solicit nominations for vacant positions, and conduct /run the actual elections.

Article 5: Finances

Section 1:  Sources of Funds

All funds used for operating the Association will be acquired through sources commensurate with the Association’s Status as a non-profit organization.  Some specific sources are listed below:

1.One-time enrollment fee as agreed upon by the membership

2.   Membership dues – a fixed amount based on the anticipated expenses of the Association, and as agreed upon by the membership

3.   Grants from the State of Minnesota and other sponsors.

4.   Fund-raising events organized by GhanAM.

5.   Fees or money collected from selected GhanAM activities.

6.   Returns from savings and/or investments.

Section 2:  Dues Payment

 

1.   Each Regular Member, 21 years or older, is responsible for paying monthly dues, approved yearly by the General Body.

2.   GhanAM Members who are senior citizens have the option of paying any amount ranging from 50% (half) to 100 % (full) of the regular dues amount.  Senior citizens are members who are 65 years or older.

3.   New members will be required to pay dues prorated for the remainder of the calendar year.

Section 3:  Disbursements of Funds

The Association’s money shall be kept in a bank account, and used for approved functions and services.  Examples, but not limited to:

1.      Organizing social events.

2.      Publications and administrative supplies.

3.      Support Services, external aid.

4.      Rentals (e.g. audio-visual equipment, Post Office Box, Office space, etc.).

5.      Savings/Investments.

Section 4:  Withdrawals from Bank Accounts

All withdrawals from GhanAM’s bank accounts (checking, savings, money market, etc) must be signed by both the Treasurer and the President.  The Secretary is eligible to sign, in the absence of one of the above officers.

Article 6: Meetings

Section 1:  General Meetings

1.General meetings must be held regularly throughout the year.  It is recommended that at least one meeting be held in each season (winter, spring, summer and fall).

2.A minimum of 30 percent of active members present shall constitute a quorum, for the purpose of conducting a valid general meeting.

3.The Executive Committee must make available an agenda to members prior to each general meeting.

4.Generally accepted meeting norms should be followed at all general meetings.

Section 2:  Board Meetings

1.Board meetings must be held regularly throughout the year.  It is recommended that at least one meeting be held in each season (winter, spring, summer and fall).

2.50% of Board members present shall constitute a quorum, for the purpose of conducting a valid Board meeting.

3. The Executive Committee must make available an agenda to members prior to each Board meeting.

4.Generally accepted meeting norms should be followed at all Board meetings.

Section 3:  Emergency Meetings

An emergency general meeting may be called by the President to respond to crises, and/or matters requiring immediate action by the General Body.

Article 7: Rights and Responsibilities

Section 1:  Rights

1.Equal rights shall be enjoyed by all members, with no preferential treatment based on tribal or national origin, sex, race, or creed.

2.Each Regular member is entitled to one vote.

3.Associate and Honorary members do not have voting privilege.

4.Each Regular member is eligible to hold an elected office.

5.Associate members may serve on Standing Committees.

6.A grievance may be filed by any member with the Executive Committee.

Section 2:  Responsibilities

1.All Regular members will have the responsibility to pay their dues.  Failure to do so will result in the loss of voting rights, membership status and/or other privileges.

2.No alcoholic beverages shall be served prior to, or during general, Board and emergency meetings.

3.Members shall be governed by the rules set forth in this Constitution.

4.Members are required to attend all meetings punctually, to ensure full participation in the Association.

5.No member shall use the name or the property of GhanAM for any personal gain.

6.Whereas GhanAM will exercise and abide by all responsibilities as stipulated in this Constitution and other Association documents, but where unable to meet the Association’s responsibilities, the Board shall submit the issue involved to arbitration by the parties involved.  This arbitration shall not take place in a court of law.

Section 3:  Conduct at Meetings and Functions

The Association reserves the right to discipline any member whose behavior is not conducive to the aims of the Association during meetings or other gatherings.

Article 8: Amendments

Any amendments to this Constitution will require 2/3 (two-thirds) majority of the active membership present.

Signed by:

________________________________ . Date: ___________________________

Mr. Hector Nanka Bruce,       President

________________________________  . Date: ___________________________

Mr. Edmund Djabaku Ocansey, Secretary

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