Last week, PPAI and regional association volunteer leaders and staff traveled to Grapevine, Texas, for the 13th annual RAC Leadership Development Workshop (LDW). Running June 20-22, LDW and the associated Executive Director Leadership Forum (EDLF) featured three days of speakers, seminars and panel discussions, as well as networking opportunities and one-on-one consultations.
LDW’s curriculum is designed to develop regional association leaders’ skills and abilities, and to build relationships among the regional associations. The 2012 LDW featured more than 20 education sessions, with material geared both for those attending their first LDW and veterans. This year, 150 industry professionals representing 27 regional associations attended LDW, including 58 first-time attendees—a 38 percent increase in first-timers from 2011. They were supported by almost 40 PPAI staff on hand to manage the event, host education sessions and to otherwise facilitate LDW.
“I love coming to LDW,” says Rod Brown, CAS, the PPAI Board’s vice chair of finance. “I get to get in touch with a lot of the regional association executive directors we don’t normally get a chance to meet. There’s also a terrific exchange of ideas. For us as PPAI Board members, it’s important to be in touch with the solid pool of volunteer leadership. It’s a distilled environment where it’s the people who really care, who are involved and looking for ways to volunteer. We’re always looking for new people to step into leadership roles, and we can spend more time with them here than we would normally get to in another environment.”
This year’s opening session speaker was Barry Diamond, a policy government consultant. His work focuses on helping leaders understand the respective roles board and management play in an organization, and how to develop effective government practices for nonprofits, nongovernmental organizations, municipal governments and other organizations with a governing board. His presentation, “The Five Pillars of Good Governance,” shared governance principles to help a board’s focus, management, leadership, oversight and accountability when serving members’ interests.
After the opening session, Diamond joined industry and subject matter experts and PPAI staff in presenting LDW’s breakout sessions. His sessions looked at moving from working to policy-driven association boards, and at the different models boards can use to organize their committee work. The numerous breakout sessions allowed participants to personalize their LDW experience to suit their needs and the needs of their association. The sessions and panel discussions covered such subjects as public relations and social media, member recognition, tradeshow strategies, product safety and education, among others.
“This is my second time at LDW,” says Megan Erber, secretary of the Chesapeake Promotional Products Association (CPPA) Board. “Coming here last year opened my eyes to so many things and I learned so much. But, I felt I missed out on so many things because I’m only one person and can only go to so many sessions. So I had to come back. There are so many leadership opportunities, volunteer opportunities and just things that you can learn that you can offer to your own region by being here.”
The Executive Directors Leadership Forum (EDLF), held June 20, was an all-day training and sharing program for the executive directors of the 27 regional promotional products industry associations. EDLF shared tips, tactics and best practices with to help executive directors better manage their organizations, and educated them on the programs and benefits they can bring to their members.
Frank Popp, executive director of the Promotional Products Association of Wisconsin, says: “This is my fourth year here, and this year’s EDLF was probably the most valuable for me in those four years. We got into the nitty gritty of the dilemmas executive directors face. We discussed the common issues that EDs have—the problems and how to address them—and some unique situations, as well. Everybody’s situation is a little different. It was nice to delve into these issues.”
At LDW, RAC’s Promotional Products Disaster Recovery Foundation (PPDRF) announced an initiative in support of its Business Recovery Fund (BRF). Re-launched in 2011, the BRF helps companies affected by natural disasters get back to work by providing equipment, work spaces, supplies and other essentials. Last year, the BRF provided $2,900 to companies in need. This year, Jeff Thomas, MAS, BRF chair, introduced the “15 For The Fund” campaign to raise money for BRF, which runs from July 15 to the end of 2012.
“The idea is that everybody gets paid on or about the 15th of the month,” says Thomas, “so why not give back $15 to the fund at that time? The money will be used to help distributors and suppliers, both members and nonmembers, to get back to business in the wake of a natural disaster. Last year, we raised $10,500 in donations from the regional associations; this year I’d like to double that and announce it at the RAC Delegate Assembly during the PPAI Expo next January.”
Jon Pierce and Dana Zezzo, CAS, the 2012 RAC Volunteers of the Year, sweetened the pot by matching the first 10 donations that the Fund received in the initiative. Mark Farrar, executive director of the Promotional Products Association of the Mid-South (PPAMS), donated $90—paying through the end of the year at $15 a month—in memory of the late Donna Hall, executive director of the Michigan Promotional Products Association (MiPPA), who passed away earlier this year, and challenged other executive directors to do the same. To learn more about the campaign, visit www.brf15.com.
Asked for his impressions of his fourth LDW, Roger Burnett, incoming president of RAC, said: “I was continuously astounded by the creativity of the people who work in this industry. The way it manifested itself in this event keeps changing and improving every single year to the point where people will understand that you can come here to be inspired. The ways we’re allowing people to express that creativity will keep evolving.”
LDW ended with a closing celebration on Friday, June 22. Commenting after the event, Donna Vorce, CAS, president of RAC, said: “What an amazing week we’ve had! I am impressed by the willingness of the group to continuously keep embracing new and better ways we can grow as an industry. The incredible support we get from the regional relations and PPAI helps us grow and be the best we can be.”