What is an Emeritus Board Member? (Overview, Roles, and Responsibilities)

  • By: Adam Wire
  • January 18, 2023
Emeritus Board Member
Reading Time: 2 minutes

An emeritus board member is a nonvoting member of the board. Learn more about the role.

The board of directors consists of valuable members who are integral to the company’s growth and success. Any company or nonprofit relies on those board members to steer it toward a sustainable, bright future. 

An emeritus board member is a former board member who continues to serve as a mentor and advisor to the board. Like ex officio board members, they are often called upon to offer their wisdom and experience when needed. 

Learn more about the roles and responsibilities of an emeritus board member.

What is an Emeritus Board Member?

An emeritus board member is a member who reached their board term limit, but is invited to stay on the board in an advisory capacity. This honorary position is typically given to a board member who made significant contributions to the organization.  

Most emeritus members are chosen by their peers for their experience and knowledge in the field. They tend to be people who were instrumental in building up an organization over many years, so they have a wealth of knowledge about its history, culture, and business practices. While they participate in meetings, they are non-voting members.


September 21 at 2:00 PM ET. August 17 at 2:00 PM ET. Leading this session will be Donna Hamlin, Ph.D. Dr. Hamlin is a corporate governance executive with thirty years of corporate governance and strategy consulting experience.

Emeritus Board Member Roles and Responsibilities

Emeritus board members are a vital part of the board of directors at any company or nonprofit because they bring a wealth of knowledge and experience from previous roles. This usually means they understand what it takes to make the organization successful.  

Roles and responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Providing strategic advice. This guidance can consist of helping to shape the organization’s direction, giving feedback on proposed policies and decisions, and educating others about the company’s challenges.
  • Identifying and addressing risks and opportunities. They provide a non-executive perspective on critical matters, allow for early pinpointing of risks and opportunities, and help direct the board in decision-making.
  • Sharing best practices and lessons learned. Recalling their history with the organization, these insights could involve revealing successful fundraising campaigns and info on what did and didn’t work with a particular initiative.
  • Mentoring incoming board members. Emeritus members understand their organization’s mission and goals, and can provide guidance to new members on what’s needed to be successful and achieve those goals.

Getting Started With OnBoard

One of the most important roles of an emeritus board member is to collaborate with other members of the board. With Zoom integration and secure messenger, directors can share files and have discussions about board work before, during, and after the meetings.

To improve meeting effectiveness, OnBoard’s drag-and-drop agenda builder makes assembling a board book faster than ever. OnBoard sends reminders about upcoming meetings, and then lets directors track who engages with board materials and for how long so they know what needs the most discussion. 

In short, OnBoard streamlines the work of board members, so they can use one system to access meeting materials (such as agendas, minutes, and video recordings), approve or amend minutes instantly, share presentations with each other, and send out reminders regarding upcoming meetings. 

Download OnBoard’s free Meeting Minutes Template for an example of how the best boards write their minutes to accurately and legally reflect what occurred during the board meeting.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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About The Author

Adam Wire
Adam Wire
Adam Wire is a Content Marketing Manager at OnBoard who joined the company in 2021. A Ball State University graduate, Adam worked in various content marketing roles at Angi, USA Football, and Adult & Child Health following a 12-year career in newspapers. His favorite part of the job is problem-solving and helping teammates achieve their goals. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife and two dogs. He’s an avid sports fan and foodie who also enjoys lawn and yard work and running.