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Leader to Leader: D&I Strategy and Time Management

ASSOCIATIONS NOW, January 2013 Leadership

Summary: Volunteer board leaders discuss how their boards play a role in the organization's diversity and inclusion strategy and how they balance their time as a volunteer leader with their other obligations.

What role does the board play in your association's diversity and inclusion strategy?

Each year, the American Public Transportation Association board reviews the status of the association's diversity goals, which are incorporated into the diversity plan and shared with APTA's membership. With the emphasis on promoting diversity as a strength of our industry, the goals include specific targets for enhancing opportunities for participation in all activities and programs. The board chair's role is to monitor and evaluate programs and activities to ensure that diversity policies are supported and implemented throughout the association and provide recommendations on ways to increase diversity and inclusion within APTA and the public transit industry.

—Flora M. Castillo, chair, American Public Transportation Association, Washington, DC

Diversity and inclusion are paramount to an organization's success. They ensure that the organization supports all people regardless of age, color, creed, sexual orientation, cultural background, and so on. It starts with the board of directors in how we create and implement a strategy of a collective workforce. In accomplishing future goals, the success of the organization will depend on accommodating those who are often mirror images of the people we're seeking to serve.

—Raphael K. Works, Ph.D., DBA, MBA, chairman, CEO, and founder, Veterans Association of America, Inc., New York City

One of the primary responsibilities of school counselors is to help every student achieve success, regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender, religion, or special needs. As an organization, we promote this idea to our members, and we also strive to model it. The board maintains and enforces the customary policies addressing discrimination and other issues, but we go beyond that by working to integrate the principles of inclusion and diversity into everything the association does. Board members regularly contact our members through email, town hall meetings at our state conferences, and other methods to give members a voice and ensure no individual or group is marginalized or disenfranchised.

—Sylinda Banks, Ed.D., chair, American School Counselor Association, Alexandria, Virginia

The board plays a role in the American Dental Association's diversity and inclusion strategy in three distinct ways. First, the board's Diversity Committee monitors diversity and inclusion initiatives throughout the association and advances recommendations to the full board. Second, through the ADA Diversity and Inclusion Plan, the board stimulates implementation of strategic diversity and inclusion priorities. Finally, the board supports leadership education for emerging leaders from diverse backgrounds through programs such as the ADA Institute for Diversity in Leadership and participates in other initiatives that embrace diversity and inclusion.

—Robert Faiella, president, American Dental Association, Chicago

How do you balance your time as a volunteer leader with your other obligations?

Balance is the key to success. Achieving balance is harder than most believe. I've found the following to be essential to balancing my time: stay connected electronically, but not 24/7; set aside time to work on specific tasks related to my volunteer organizations; have a well-trained support team; and realize my capacity. I make a conscious effort to be aware of how I spend my time. I would like to agree to take on every volunteer task asked of me, but realistically time is limited. Learn to say "no." Identify the volunteer organizations you enjoy the most and focus on giving your time to what you enjoy.

—Gianna Solari, chair, National Affordable Housing Management Association, Alexandria, Virginia

I had been considering a best answer to this question, then one morning, as I struggled awake at 3:50 a.m. to catch a flight home after two days of meetings on behalf of ASGE, the answer became crystal clear. I create more time by rising earlier and staying up later. During my days of medical training, sleep deprivation was simply the expected professional dues. Now, the time demands of my life present more of a physiologic endurance challenge. However, the reasons for my pursuits have not changed. My passion for the mission of ASGE and my love of the profession drive my desire to lead, innovate, and make a difference. I have also found that my best thinking occurs during a brisk bicycle-ride-induced endorphin high.

—Tom Deas, MD, president, American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, Oak Brook, Illinois

The balancing act between career, family, and volunteering can be challenging. Trying to schedule equal time for all is unrealistic. This process should be more like life—fluid and sometimes spontaneous. My attempt at balance is aided by the resources and tools that assist in my personal and professional responsibilities. These keep me organized, which is key to staying on task and allowing me the time to dedicate to all—or, sometimes, to most. It is also important to breathe and enjoy the time spent on each undertaking.

—Mardi Dilger, chair, International Ticketing Association, Indianapolis

The theme for my tenure as chair of BOMA is "Better by Association," meaning we are all better when we work together. I apply "Better by Association" to every aspect of my life. I have a full and busy career at Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis, but it is also a privilege for me to fulfill my volunteer leadership commitments. Yes, it takes extra effort, but it's not a matter of ­having time, but making time. Everyone can make time for things they are passionate about. The connections, experiences, and knowledge that come out of the time investment make me a better person and a better leader.

—Joseph W. Markling, chair and CEO, Building Owners and Managers Association International, Washington, DC

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