By Patricia Montague, CAE, Acting Chief Executive Officer 2013-04-03 13:21:36
Will You Say “Yes”? SNA’s 41st Legislative Action Conference (LAC)—its largest and one of the most successful—has just concluded. I was delighted to see 925+ school nutrition operators and industry representatives travel to the nation’s capital to advocate on behalf of school nutrition programs. Many of these attendees came to D.C. not only as representatives of individual schools or districts, but as volunteer leaders who serve as state presidents, state legislative chairs, national committee members, local chapter officers and more. These women and men freely and generously give their time and energy to help advance this profession and ensure that students all across the country receive nutritious, delicious school meals. SNA is the strong and successful national organization that it is today because of the many volunteers who have served at all levels over the years. It is critical that we continue to identify and train new leaders to step up and help our Association to grow and prosper. That is exactly what we will be doing later this month in Savannah, Ga., at the 2013 National Leadership Conference (NLC). More than 250 state and national leaders will gather to attend education sessions on leadership, governance and association management. NLC 2013 will include the invitation-only Future Leaders Program, which has trained 225+ participants in the last eight years. At NLC 2012, Future Leader graduates were asked to stand and be recognized during a general session—and more than 75% of the NLC attendees rose! Each were now playing a role at the state or national level. It was a moment I will always remember, as everyone in the room gasped and cheered. What an encouraging sign for the future of SNA! Ask anyone who has served in a leadership position (with SNA or another organization) and they will confirm that this volunteer experience is an unparalleled learning and networking opportunity, leading to new skills, deep friendships, lasting professional connections and indelible memories. I know that is true for me as a volunteer— and as a witness. Among my most satisfying experiences working in association management are those that involve sharing my expertise with state leaders, perhaps teaching a session on finances or offering advice about strategic planning via an e-mail exchange. I truly enjoy hearing about SNA members’ leadership journeys. Most begin with a simple request to help out at a meeting or serve on a committee; few anticipate that the journey would carry them to a leadership position at the state or national level! Has such a request been made of you? I hope that the next time someone at your local, state or national Association asks for your help, you will say “yes.” I am confident that you will not regret it—and that you will enjoy the trip along your own leadership path.
Published by School Nutrition Association. View All Articles.
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