News & Insights

Executive sessions should be a regular agenda item for every board meeting. Are they at yours? 


If your board is like many others, perhaps your honest answer is no. Why have an executive session if no pressing issues need to be addressed? Are they necessary if things are going well and the president and cabinet have everything in hand? I believe the answer to that question is yes.

An executive session is typically defined as a portion of a meeting where proceedings are limited to only members of the governing body and can also include the president as invited. These sessions are often referred to as a closed meeting or in-camera session. Executive sessions are a useful tool for an institution and its governing board and leadership.

In our work with boards over the past 30 years, the In Trust Center has shared about the important practice of including executive sessions at each board meeting – first an executive session that includes the president, and then, immediately following, an executive session that does not include the president. When executive sessions are a regular part of the agenda, no one questions the reason for them, nor is anyone alarmed by their inclusion. Putting executive sessions on the agenda at each meeting serves as a reminder to the board of their need to discuss important issues with only the executive leader or among themselves.


There are many articles, posts, and resources on executive sessions, including a few listed below.


In Trust magazine: “The board’s executive session: A wise governance practice” (New Year 2011)

BoardSource: “Structure, committees, and meetings

BoardEffect: “Open meetings, closed sessions: Executive sessions as a tool


Interested in resources on boards or in discussing executive sessions? Contact us at


Top Topics

Roles & Responsibilities



Board Essentials

Upcoming Events

The In Trust Center hosts learning community spaces throughout the year. Check out our upcoming events below.

I See That Hand


Board members are typically recruited for their leadership, business acumen, and networks. Dr. Rebekah Basinger, project director of the In Trust Center’s Wise Stewards Initiative, will discuss how strategic questioning and interrogation skills are essential for effective board stewardship.

Strategic Partnerships in Higher Education


In this on-demand webinar, Rick Staisloff, senior partner of rpk GROUP, discusses essential aspects of strategic partnerships. This session delves into current trends, identification of partners, navigating the due diligence process, and common challenges.

Closing the Trust Gap


The current and very troubling condition of trust is a clarion call to action. But despite the dismal data showing pervasive organizational distrust, every organization can assess their current level of trust, learn and adopt a proven trust building framework, and then develop a meaningful and long-lasting plan of action. This webinar details the knowledge and practical next steps to strengthen workplace culture as a result of closing the trust gap.

Can’t Find What You’re Looking For?

In Trust Center provides Resource Consulting to our members at no charge. Contact us today and let us guide you to the most helpful resources for your situation.

Contact Us