Here’s How It Began
This will be my final article as President of CAAEYC; in July I will be passing the baton to Heidi Thumlert, the current President Elect, so look for a message from her in July. I’ll take a quick moment to share the history of Heidi and I passing batons to one another: I followed Heidi as Conference Committee Chair in my first foray into state level leadership, a few years later I followed her role as Secretary and finally, she follows me as President. It has been an honor, privilege and joy to be President for CAAEYC. I have watched our organization move through a structural change (which I believe has made us stronger and more efficient), refine our presence in the state and build new partnerships and most importantly increase our outreach and opportunities for our members. In my first article in August 2017, I encouraged you to become more engaged in our organization, through participation on a committee, local leadership, participation on the state board as a local chapter representative and participating in all the benefits being a member of CAAEYC and NAEYC has to offer.
In my final article, I want to share my journey with CAAEYC, hopefully you see an opportunity or pathway of interest to you. Our organization’s leadership, growth and ability to stay current with the needs of professionals in California, depends on new participants on committees and boards—local chapter and state.
My tenure with CAAEYC began as an undergraduate student at CSU Chico as a member and soon the faculty members and mentors encouraged me to participate more and brought me along to support different activities locally and at the state level. My first leadership role was a student liaison for the Golden Rivers local affiliate—it was a different structure, which I didn’t know about or understand at all. In that role, I attended meetings and learned more about professional opportunities outside my roles as a student, program volunteer and working at the CSU Chico Child Development Lab. The first responsibility I took on was coordinating a children’s art display in businesses throughout Chico for the Week of the Young Child—it was a great opportunity to see different programs and connect the local community with the importance of early education. I had my first experience supporting a local conference held at CSU Chico—I recall moving from building to building making sure presenters had what they needed—rolling a media cart with an overhead projector (I know that dates me) is one thing I remember most. I had an opportunity to attend the state conference and be involved in a component of the exhibit hall—at that time, CAAEYC would have an NAEYC marketplace in the Expo Hall. We had to preorder, inventory and send back unsold items, not to mention organizing the marketplace, managing sales, etc. That was an awesome experience, which I didn’t truly appreciate until recently.
After graduation, I moved to a new part of the state I was totally unfamiliar with and maintained my membership but wasn’t very active for about five years. Then, my employer asked me to attend a meeting for the local level, I don’t remember what project we were working on, but that’s when I became really engaged. At the local level, I supported some of the activities and projects they sponsored and about four years into that, accepted my first position on the board as hospitality chair—making sure we had snacks at board meetings. I don’t remember exactly what path my involvement took, but for the next 10 years I had roles such as Member at Large, Vice President of Membership, Vice President of Professional Development, Secretary, and eventually President-Elect, President and Past President. I gained leadership opportunities that have contributed to my continued leadership in CAAEYC, as well as professionally. I organized a few local conferences, organized a tour of early childhood programs in the community, planned a provider recognition event, and much more. My roles on the local board, introduced me to state leaders and activities, and for about three years I was an active member locally and on the state board.
At the state board, my very first activity was coordinating program tours for the state conference to be held in San Jose—a role on the state Conference Committee. From that experience, the current President and Conference Committee Chair encouraged me to take my first run at being the state Conference Committee chair, then I took on a two-year position on the State Board as Affiliate Representative, and my engagement took off and continued to where it is today—13 years later. I won’t overwhelm and stress you out with my path during the past 13 years—I have participated in many committees—been Conference Committee Chair and held a variety of board positions, including Executive Committee roles twice. Each step I took was supported, encouraged and sometimes suggested by another CAAEYC leader. I also accepted a nomination for a few roles that I was not voted into, honestly, sometimes with a sigh of relief.
There are two things I hope you take away from this message: 1) Participation and leadership growth are encouraged by other leaders and mentors—most people who take a step forward in participation and leadership, do so because someone invited them to, encouraged them to share their talents and/or mentored them as they travelled; 2) Participation is important at every level in every role and becoming a state leader or board member or president doesn’t happen all at once—you have the opportunity to grow into it—as long as you take it.
As I move to my role as Past President and Chair of the Chapter Relations and Development Committee, I am excited to utilize the skills, experiences, successes and shortcomings to support our local chapters in their leadership and activities. Most importantly, I am excited to offer the encouragement to connect with members at the local level and maybe encourage or mentor their growth and movement in leadership—perhaps to the state board…maybe even presidency in the future.