The Beer’s Cut Off Until We Have a Nominee!
By Jonathan Pearson on Wednesday, April 17th, 2013
We’re very proud of the extensive community and global contributions provided by the approximately 140 National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) affiliated member groups all around the country.
The work leading to these contributions – which make the world a much better place – can be challenging. And they don’t come without a significant degree of effort and commitment.
Last Sunday evening, a potluck dinner and meeting with more than 30 members of the Columbia River Peace Corps Association (CRPCA) provided a window into the dynamics of one NPCA member group.
It was nomination night for the CRPCA Board of Directors. That’s undoubtedly one of the most challenging tasks facing any volunteer group. Who will step up to help lead? CRPCA President Chuck McConnell (Ukraine 2008-11) flashed a power point slide outlining the various board members, their roles and a status update.
Most current officers agreed to continue in their positions or assume a different role. Some said they wanted to step aside, but would continue if needed. The list showed gaps in a couple of key leadership positions.
Chuck asked for nominations or volunteers. The silent response suggested that he’d just asked for volunteers to receive a gamma-globulin shot. After an awkward moment, group Treasurer Phyllis Shelton (Honduras 1986-88) offered a truly Peace Corps solution: “OK,” she said. ”The beer’s cut off until we get a nominee!”
The election slate was not completely filled on the spot, and the beer still flowed. But the levity eased the group into brainstorming alternative ways to round out their leadership team.
“Often, the focus of such discussions is the time commitment asked of those who volunteer to leadership roles,” said McConnell. ”But perhaps a more effective conversation might be: How do we make the organization so successful that no single leader is burdened?”
That goal can be accomplished and CRPCA – notwithstanding the run for cover at its annual meeting – seems to be doing it. In Portland and environs, CRPCA’s success creates the kind of value that encourages every stakeholder to pitch in.
“It is fun to be part of a group that has been so incredibly successful,” said group Secretary Brenda Michel (Sierra Leone 1986-88). Recalling an earlier less-than-vibrant period for CRPCA, she and others shifted the conversation to what is going right for the group now. For example:
- The most recent CRPCA grant of $2,300 was given to assist Portland area filmmakers producing a documentary about Fair Trade practices in India.
- Making plans to participate in the annual Rose Festival parade, through which hundreds of thousands of Oregonians are provided a powerful, international flag-marching reminder of the presence and importance of the Peace Corps around the world.
- CRPCA’s newsletter, bookclub, speaking and mentoring programs, family friendly and other social events…activities that provide an opportunity for all Returned Peace Corps Volunteers to engage somewhere, somehow.
Congratulations to the nearly 250 members of CRPCA for their Peace Corps passion and perseverance. Here’s hoping you can round out your inspiring leadership team!
Time for Your Thoughts: What are your challenges, success stories, and best practices as a leader/member of an NPCA affiliate, or other volunteer member group? Offer your comments below.
Our visit with CRPCA is part of Road-Trip-a-Palooza, NPCA’s cross-country excursion to connect with members of the Peace Corps community in large cities and small towns. Follow this link to see if we are coming your way!