compiled by Ardis Bazyn, ACB Membership Chair
In our latest membership focus call, we discussed leadership training sponsored by different affiliates and the advantages and disadvantages of each. Below are outlines of the basics from different states. We hope these examples help your affiliate decide which type would be most appropriate for you.
The Washington Council of the Blind has an annual leadership training seminar. Each one has a different theme. Topics include: WCB history, personality types, resolving conflict, chapter involvement, publicity, and a leadership focus. Table discussions are valuable. Each participant gets a T-shirt with the theme of the year on it and a photo and certificate of completion. The training ends with a banquet Saturday night. Sunday is a quarterly WCB board meeting for participants to attend. For this training, members are allowed to attend one time unless asked to speak for another one.
Some program ideas from the last few years are below. The "Reach for the Stars" event used round tables with star centerpieces. "Ocean of Opportunity" had decorations and appropriate prizes for trivia. "Carrying a Torch for WCB" was the first theme. WCB has been successful in getting people to attend and training them to run for positions in the future. They have spent $2,000 for each conference and have graduated more than 200 members; of those, 20 percent have moved to full leadership positions. WCB used outside speakers for the first few years and then Washington state speakers once there were budget restrictions. Washington eventually moved to a shorter seminar for chapter presidents and leaders, where the training is held on Friday, with the state board meeting on Saturday. New leaders can attend this training more than once. The shorter seminar cost less for Washington and the participants as well. WCB has offset the cost of the training conference.
The California Council of the Blind has handled leadership training at conventions. Previously, leadership training took place the day before the convention started - Thursday from 8:30 a.m., with continental breakfast, and ending at 3 p.m. Besides a luncheon speaker, sessions included the history of CCB, roles and responsibilities of officers, outlines of various committees, and other aspects of leadership. At this year's convention, CCB opted to have two tracks at the Saturday afternoon session of the convention itself: a leadership track and an employment track. Each lasted from 1:30 to 4:15 p.m. The leadership track covered an interactive session on personalities. Participants were asked to choose one of four personality types and join that group. Questions were asked that each group answered the way most in the group wanted. The exercise ended by showing how each type of personality would work best in the committee structure, including which committee might work best for the individual. Then the roles and responsibilities of officers and leadership qualities were covered. CCB decided to try this strategy because it cut down the cost for participants.
In the last few years, some regional and national training seminars have taken place. This year, the Midwest Leadership Conference took place in St. Louis, and the Crossroads Leadership Conference was held in Louisville, Ky. The Crossroads conference took place Friday afternoon and Saturday. Topics included fundraising, public relations, and membership recruitment. This year, Kentucky offered a small stipend. It was mentioned how inexpensive door prizes helped keep the participants listening, since questions were asked during the day about what was already covered. The national Leadership Institute was held in 2012 and will be held again this year on July 11, prior to the ACB convention. The topics of the upcoming Leadership Institute were mentioned. Interested members can sign up on the pre-registration form.
Members from Florida, Georgia, Missouri, and other states mentioned training held by conference calls. President's calls were another method of training, with topics such as constitution and bylaws and requirements for chapters, writing resolutions, Robert's Rules of Order, and the roles and responsibilities of officers. The Bluegrass Council of the Blind started a mentoring program, where newer members met with experienced members. Seven have been trained so far. They discussed mentoring, what it is and what skills are involved: empathy, active listening, etc. A local chapter formed an outreach program for members to share how people can deal with blindness. CCLVI developed a book called "Insights into Low Vision," which they are sharing with those who want to assist newly blinded people or their families.
Our next membership focus call will be held in August; it will focus on 501(c)(3) and the importance of incorporating. If you can speak or write in Spanish and are interested in serving on a subcommittee, please contact the membership committee. If you are interested in working on a committee on CP and blindness, also let us know.