Agricultural business junior Nicole Billington will be the next Associated Students, Inc. Board of Directors chair. She served as the chair of the California FFA Executive Committee, Nominating Committee and Delegate Business Session. | Dylan Sun/Mustang News

Benjy Egel
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Agricultural business junior Nicole Billington was elected by the current Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) Board of Directors to serve as the chair of next year’s Board.

Billington defeated kinesiology junior Alex Horncliff 17-4 in Wednesday’s Board of Directors meeting after an hour and a half of presentation, questioning and deliberation.

“I think the biggest thing is … creating an environment where the 24 students in this room feel comfortable putting on their representative hat and really have all the tools they need to represent students,” Billington said.

In her presentation to the Board of Directors, Billington focused on her experience in parliamentary procedure, the organized structure used by the Board in all meetings.

Billington facilitated approximately 300 parliamentary meetings in high school and college clubs, even becoming a member of the National Association of Parliamentarians.

As Board of Directors chair, Billington said she would concentrate on impartiality, transparency and culture change, ensuring Board members know each other on a personal level and socialize outside of meetings.

“Culture is deeper than actions,” she said. “It’s deeper than attitudes. It’s the foundation that creates action and attitudes. It is not an easy task, but I think I have a solid action plan that will help capture Board members’ attention in the very first few weeks and find a way to keep that rolling throughout the year.”

After completing her freshmen year at Cal Poly, Billington left school to serve as the California Future Farmers of America (FFA) president, where she led more than 73,000 high school agriculture enthusiasts.

Billington also served as the chair of the California FFA Executive Committee, Nominating Committee and Delegate Business Session, where she presided over a 650-person board making bylaw changes in front of 5,000 audience members.

Horncliff will serve as Interfraternity Council (IFC) president in addition to his role as a Board member. While he would not officially confirm whether he intended to run for vice chair of the Board, Horncliff said he was likely to apply.

“Board of Directors and IFC are my commitments, and like I said, I’m here to do those things,” he said. “Now I have a little more time in my day to be the best Board member I can possibly be.”

Though Billington and Horncliff were given the option to stay in the room while Board members deliberated, both chose to leave to allow for a frank, open discussion.

Board members commended Billington’s attendance in ASI committee workshops over the weeks leading up to the election. She emailed every current Board member to try to set up one-on-one meetings, and managed to sit down with most of them.

With only software engineering sophomore Myra Lukens returning to the Board of Directors, the new leaders will have to lean on their experience in other campus organizations. Current Board of Directors Chair and agricultural sciences senior Tatiana Prestininzi said the new Board has the unique chance to start over without much influence from this year’s representatives.

“You have new students coming in who will be exposed to this for the first time, so they have a completely clean slate,” Prestininzi said. “Sure, there’s going to be a learning curve … but I think, truly, that having so many new members is going to be something that is going to be a great addition to the Board.”

An inexperienced Board means next year’s members have a greater opportunity to take on leadership roles, Prestininzi said. Billington had little experience in ASI other than serving on ASI President Jason Colombini’s executive cabinet with Horncliff, but Prestininzi said she was a great choice as chair.

“I know her to be a person who is full of integrity, and I think that if she is just herself naturally that she’s going to do a phenomenal job,” Prestininzi said.

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