September is the month when SIETAR USA begins its search for Executives and Board members for the ensuing year. It’s nominations time! That process is honchoed by the Immediate Past President, Holly Emert. She sets the schedule, publishes the announcements, ensures transparency, makes sure that deadlines are met, and helps insure that we have good candidates for each position. It’s a big job but people willing to serve SIETAR USA on the Board or the Executive Committee are the life blood that keeps it alive.
What is important to know if you are considering applying for a position on the Board? Yes, there is a time commitment. SIETAR USA is a volunteer organization, which means you are devoting a portion of your life to something that is important to you. The Board of Directors is a working Board. We have a paid Administrative Officer (thank goodness!) who handles the books and many other tasks that are essential. The Board meets by Zoom 11 times a year (one summer meeting for July and August). The virtual meetings last from one to two hours. We meet two times a year in person: a 3-day retreat meeting in February or March and one full day prior to the conference. Those meetings are compensated.
The Board consists of Portfolios and each Portfolio has a Director. All initiatives or projects are carried out by the Directors and their committees. For example, the webinar series was initiated by Julia Gaspar-Bates, Local Groups Director, who felt that this would be a benefit to the Local Group members not all of whom can get to the national conferences. This way they still get to hear from speakers with special expertise and it is a benefit to all members. The work on such initiatives might take 4-6 hours a month, depending on what is needed. Directors have some specific tasks but by and large, select their own goals based on what they want to work on.
An interesting way to think of association governance is as a culture. There are norms and values, and behavioral expectations. We work as a collective for the good of the association and independently on our own projects. Some of us are definitely rule makers while others are rule breakers (to use Michele Gelfand’s cultural dichotomy), which keeps it interesting.
For me, the satisfaction of dedicating time and thought to an association that I’ve participated in for so many years and making it hum is my reward for the hours put into it. It is giving back. It is connecting with people I’ve known over the years and new people who step forward to serve. It is working to keep the SIETAR USA spirit alive as well as its body. Is there a right time to add a Board position into your busy schedule? The answer is: there is never a “right” time. Everyone on the Board has a full-time job, families, homes, colleagues, and days and nights full of the things that take time but make life worthwhile. I like to think that the time anyone would spend on SIETAR USA also enriches their already rich lives. It does for me.
Join us to help SIETAR USA move forward. I know you can do it!
Sandra M. Fowler
President SIETAR USA