Doing Something You’ve Never Done Before . . . Part 2
When you do something you've never done before, there are several different kinds of people that it's really nice to have around. Not in any particular order as they are all critical to the success of your mission: the Mentor, the Experienced Veteran, the Topic Expert, the Trusted Advisor, the Step-up Leader-Followers, the Energized, Get-it-Done Staff, and the Enthusiastic Volunteers.
I count myself and SETAC-NA fortunate to have all of these! So, who are they for me as SNA President?
The Mentor. The past Presidents of SNA that I have served under: Paul Sibley, Bill Goodfellow, Tim Canfield, George Cobb, Barnett Rattner, Pat Guiney, Kurt Maier (and several other men and women I have worked with prior to and after becoming a board member). Did you know that the outgoing President sticks around on the BOD for the year after their presidency to provide historical knowledge, mentorship, and take care of outstanding business? But it's not just the immediate past president that is willing to be helpful. I have called on all of them at one point or another during my time on the BOD, as VP, and as President. Every one of them has graciously and enthusiastically taken my call, returned my email, or talked over coffee, lunch, dinner, or drinks. Each brought a personal and unique approach to their time in office. Their insights on the issues, initiatives, and challenges that they worked through then and the current BOD and I work through now have been instructional and helpful whether the insight was how to or how not to do something. I've watched them have difficult conversations and effectively manage strong differences in opinion. And do so not only successfully, but with aplomb. I learned a lot.
The Experienced Veteran. This is, without a doubt, our SNA Executive Director, Greg Schiefer. Did you know Greg was a SETAC member well before (1984) he became part of the SETAC staff and SNA ED? He's still a member. He's been our Assistant Executive Director or Executive Director for 20 years. There is hardly an aspect of SETAC history, administration, governance, or program implementation that he hasn't been a part of. He's one of those you always call on, or should always call on, before you do something for the first time because he has likely already tried it or knows someone who has.
The Topic Expert. For me this is our SNA Secretary-Treasurer, Doug Fort. There are a lot of things I find exciting to learn about and take the reins on. Accounting, corporate budgeting, financial planning and investment, and compliance with nonprofit audit requirements are not some of them. Doug and all of the SETAC T-Ss I have worked with have had the uncanny ability to explain these critical, potentially career limiting, activities and responsibilities in a manner that make them sensical. He asks us hard questions and keeps our toes to the fire to make sure SNA is not only solvent but solid and set to finance our mission and our vision into the future. I encourage you to participate in the open business meeting in Salt Lake to understand how we get so much programming out of so limited a bank account.
The Trusted Advisor. This is the person or persons you trust to tell you the cold hard truth about what you did or didn't do even if you don't like it. For me, one of those people is our Vice President, Karsten Liber. Solicited or not, I get his perspective and suggestions and I take them and I use them. He, of course, always ends his point with something to the effect of: I hope you take these in the spirit in which they were intended. I do. And it takes a little bit of the sting out of it.
The Step-up Leader-Followers. These are all of the members of the Board of Directors and chairs of committees and advisory groups I have worked with, past and present. There are 16 members of the SNA BOD, 15 SNA committee and advisory group chairs, and 19 Regional Chapter Presidents, VP’s, Treasurers, and BODs. Everyone of them leads some aspect of SNA. Sure, they report back to me one way or another but it's more that they are accountable to each other, the people they lead, and you. We would have no programming, no member services, no networking, collaboration, awards, or fun without them. Did you know that when you elect someone to the SNA BOD you are electing a future SNA President and potentially a future World Council President? And the Chairs of committees and advisory groups and members of Regional Chapter BODs are very often the ones you elect to the SNA BOD.
The Energized, Get-it-Done Staff. You know when you appreciate these folks the most? When the proverbial lights don’t go on. These are the people who keep SNA and much of SETAC running on a day to day basis. They process our memberships and registrations, they find venues for our annual meetings, they negotiate our contracts that get us good rates, they make sure we have food (good food) at the opening reception, they keep our website up to date, publish our on-line SETAC News, run our abstract selection meeting, manage our money, keep our books, pay our bills, manage our journals and publications, conducted our successful Reddit in Vancouver, they staff our registration desk and book store, they take our notes at BOD and SWC meetings, they manage our financial audits, they do our outreach and marketing, they get our awards awarded, they solve all kinds of our problems. Note that each of these items contains the word ‘our' not 'the' or 'their' but 'our.' They are a resource to be wondered at . . . And, they do it, our work, with good humor and good will.
The Enthusiastic Volunteers. I know that technically speaking that’s all of us. The entire membership. But I’d like to be a bit more specific. We are an all-volunteer army. Yes, the SNA staff are paid. But without an active, engaged, membership they would have no work to do as there would be no SNA. From those who volunteer to present their research, organize and teach a short course, find plenary, keynote, or lunchtime speakers, to those that stuff the annual meeting totes, organize sessions, symposia, or Pellstons, manage the Endowment Fund, edit our journals and publications, or turn on and off the lights for platform presentations - Each and every one is an essential volunteer.
As I said in my last blog, I don't do it alone. None of us do.
And don't I know it!!
Thank You to each of you.