Monday, July 16 — For about 10 hours this weekend I and three other LWVOC board members — Michele Levy, Sandra A. Powers and Sara Isaac — learned from the experts how to develop League membership and leadership skills. The subject may seem a little dry but the content was fascinating and well presented.

Leading the sessions, which were held at the Best Western Hotel in Winter Park, were Cheryl Graeve and Sara Sanders of the LWV in Washington, D.C. About 40 people attended from 13 Florida Leagues and it was a wonderful opportunity to trade stories and tips about building our organization.The aim was to develop “techniques for empowering citizens to have a voice in this election, for heightening League visibility and for developing the skills of rising community leaders.”

State President Deirdre Macnab kicked things off Saturday with a call for change and urged members to develop “a culture of ideas,” and an attitude of “let’s see how we can make that work.”

Over and over we were reminded that members volunteer to work for the League and they shouldn’t be sent on a guilt trip if they can’t always help with projects or have limited time to spare.

“It is serious work but have a lot of fun doing it,” Deirdre urged.

Looking around the meeting room, I was struck by how many younger people there were. Of course when you are pushing 74, everything is relative. But there were members in their early 30s representing state Leagues and that gave one hope for the future.

In some areas, such as communications, Orange County seemed well on track. We already use the blog, Facebook and Twitter to contact members. In others, we have plenty to learn. I for one was struck by the need to run a tight meeting, delegate, plan ahead and reach out to all parts of the membership. We did exercises to see what type of leader we are (I’m a mouse) and drafted event-planning checklists. There were even photos you could choose to reflect the mood of your board. For Orange County, we selected one of photo a couple of people intensely praying then we collapsed in laughter as we tried to explain why that particular photo appealed to us the most. One reason — we never take anything for granted. When we plan an event, whether it is Hot Topics or new-member socials, we realize it takes hard work, dedication and sometimes a little luck to achieve success.

After all, we didn’t get to be the biggest League in Florida by leaving things in the lap of the gods.

By Ann Hellmuth
LWVOC President

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