The Show Must Go On!

Even when no one shows up!


Challenges exist when providing Board-level strategic guidance for the two committees of a statewide Professional Association responsible for generating the bulk of non-dues revenue. While I focused on building and strengthening the continuing education program, I relied on the two committee chairs to carry out the logistical functions inherent in actually delivering the CE programs at the convention and at conferences across the state. Great care was taken in selecting personnel to fill those roles.


Becoming a volunteer leader on one of these active, deadline-driven committees was the result of a rigorous process of reviewing potential candidates' capabilities, discussing their level of interest, and ascertaining the available time each could devote to the role requirements.

Nevertheless, the best laid plans often go awry! Despite the selection process, both committee chairs - during a one-year period - went MIA (missing-in-action)! A leadership vacuum occurred, threatening the existence of a major revenue generator for the association. To make matters worse, the Board of Directors refused to "fire" volunteer leaders. However, like a circus, "the show must go on" to guarantee the delivery of the CE programs and the revenue they generated.


My goals were two-fold:

  • remove and replace ineffective and absentee leaders with more capable and willing volunteer chairs for the two committees while maintaining an active and viable continuing education program across the state; and

  • reduce the chance of a future leadership vacuum at the committee level that could compromise the bottom line of the association.


Over the better part of one year,

  • the conference/convention manager and I assumed the duties of these chairs, in addition to our own responsibilities. Our educational programs occurred as planned that year.

  • the ineffective leader was replaced at the start of the new governance year, a time when committee chairs are typically approved by the Board of Directors. The reason: not responding to mentoring, refusing to return calls or emails and not submitting committee reports.

  • the second committee chair took up residence in Europe. The BOD finally conceded that it would be difficult to accomplish committee chair tasks from such a distance! During the previous year, this chair was out-of-touch fairly consistently due to personal travels abroad.

  • I set in motion a process to convince the Board of Directors of the need for leadership development initiative for our 300+ volunteers who served on 28 committees.

Association members further recognized my leadership skills by electing me to be President of PPA and their Board of Directors.