Postcards From a Volunteer Leader

By: Patsy Phillips

An up-close-and-personal look at the life and learnings of a volunteer president.

Patsy Phillips, Ph.D., LMFT, president of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, has kindly agreed to share some highlights from her experience as a board leader with Associations Now. Below, she shares her thoughts at the halfway point in her presidential year.

"Is this fun yet?"

Approaching my second board meeting as president, I felt very comfortable. Our association has successfully moved past some difficult transitions following the resignation of a key board officer, our past president. I felt surprisingly confident in recommending a replacement, someone I knew I would be able to rely on in the past-president role. The board supported my recommendation, and several members commented on what a good choice he was.

All of the effort we have put into the strategic planning process and committee reports and the fine staff and administrative support for our board direction came together at this board meeting. Our agenda was full. We commissioned a member survey earlier in the year, and the results were unveiled to the board. We attended our licensing board's meeting, which gave us a great deal of insight into the issues it faces. And as part of our continuing emphasis on transparency, four members observed the board's proceedings throughout.

At times, I felt like I was herding cats. Maintaining open discussion and deliberation, while being mindful of the full agenda, was challenging, but we got through it all. Our board under my leadership has pulled the association back together, honoring ourselves and embracing our membership. Working strategically and maintaining community among the board is the key.

Well, one more board meeting and two conferences to go. "Is it fun yet?" It just might be.