Why Community and Fundamentals
By Chris Vestal, DC/SLA 2013 President-Elect
I’m a big fan of themes. I try to use themes as much as possible like when I’m decorating, planning outfits, picking books to read, etc. I also think themes are perfect when it comes to professional development and branding. I remember back in 2011 when Cindy Romaine was President of SLA and Future Ready was on the tip of everyone’s tongue – so it was a great branding tool. But it was also a good strategic planning tool because once she had her theme it made it easier to pick specific strategies and actions that went along with that theme.
So I decided that DC/SLA’s programming would have a theme as well this year. The idea was straightforward – having a theme would make it easier to weed out programs that didn’t fit and it’d be easy to communicate to the chapter and the rest of the world what our programming focus was for the year. At first I thought it would be hard to think of a theme but it was actually really easy.
Over the years at happy hours, social gatherings, and other DC/SLA events I’ve had the chance to see that DC/SLA is so much more than a local association chapter – it’s a vibrant community of amazing professionals. I really wanted our programming to not only reflect that but also to really engage the membership and allow us to interact and network in exciting new ways. So we decided on Community as the first part of our programming theme.
DC/SLA has had some amazing programs on such a broad range of topics over the years it was challenging at first to think of a focus for professional development programs. But then I realized in my different volunteer roles in SLA I’d developed a number of fundamental skills (public speaking, leading a business meeting, writing) that really helped me in my real world jobs. So we decided that we wanted to focus on these fundamental skills that are universally important no matter what your position is.
Once we came up with Community and Fundamentals it led us to a number of strategic decisions. Traditionally our programming is in the evening, has 20-30 minutes of networking, and then a 90 minute presentation. We decided this format wasn’t ideal for engaging the community so we opted to make our professional development programs lunchtime webinars/brownbag lunches. Since our lunch events take up less of our resources that freed the program planning committee up to have more evening events that either focused on interactive skill building like an acting class or community events like a Murder Mystery Night or a Librarians at the Baseball Game night.
So going back to how into themes I am – if I plan my outfits for the week based on a theme how could we not plan our programming with a theme in mind? Community and Fundamentals gives our membership a chance to shine by building relationships with other professionals and developing skills to rise above the competition.