New experiences, new lessons

As I have become more comfortable with my chairman position, a lot has been happening around the office.  Being only 24, I have not had a lot of experience in hiring others, although I was in charge of the search committee to hire our current executive director.  In the past three months I have been involved hiring for two more positions!  In July, we hired a person for our office in Watertown.  She is now learning the specifics of the Red Cross and learning how we would like to run things.  I also interviewed an assistant for our office.  Before I took this position, I had considered applying for the same position!  Thankfully, I was told by our executive director basically that my skills and experience are beyond what is needed for the position and that he needs my leadership skills as chairman.  We originally had three applicants, with all interviews scheduled.  The night before the interviews, two of the three backed out.  And while we interviewed the third applicant, she ultimately turned down our offer and so we are back at the beginning.  Along with not having experience in hiring, this is my first experience as a supervisor.  Luckily, I have an amazing staff, so I don’t have to worry about them.

I am currently working with the American Humanics program on the South Dakota State University campus to have members of the Leadership & Management of Nonprofit course plan and implement a waffle or pancake feed for us.  We have been hitting roadblock after roadblock for this fundraiser, and although it appears we cannot hold it on campus (due to campus food service policies), it will happen sooner than later.

Another struggle I’m facing, which I’m sure it a struggle for other small chapters is board recruitment and activity.  We have many members who don’t show up to meetings or respond to emails.  At our first full board meeting of the year last week, we barely had enough for a quorum, which is frustrating as chairman.  The ONLY positive thought I had on it was “Well good, if I get nervous and word something wrong, there are less people to hear it!”  I finally drew the line and those members are receiving a “warning” of what our bylaws say, and that they will be replaced if their actions do not improve.  I cherish those board members who are active and who are there to support the mission of our organization!  It is hard for me to find board members who have a niche in the community that are not already spread thinly. 

I found out last week that we have another college student who wants to become an active volunteer.  We also have 5 high school students interested as serving as their school representatives.  I am going to be meeting with each one of them and hopefully make an “expectation” of the high school rep this year to start a high school club.  When I found out we had that many high school students interested in our organization, I seriously started clapping and dancing in my seat.  I think my roommate thought I was nuts, but I didn’t care.  I know some of you could share in my excitement!  I should know more about that by next month.

I will keep you all informed as I go through these new experiences!  It has already been a great learning experience.

Jessica Mueller, South Dakota

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