My Leadership Journey from Volunteer to President-Elect

Published in the ATD Greater Atlanta December 2021 Newsletter

I started volunteering with ATD Greater Atlanta in 2017, and officially joined the chapter in 2018. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot, and gained valuable experiences throughout my leadership journey in the chapter. I’ve also been fortunate to have great people to learn from and lean on along the way.

How my journey started…
Back in 2018, I was asked to help plan the December chapter meeting. The December meeting serves as an end-of-year celebration for members and volunteers, so I was excited to help plan the event. I remember recruiting volunteers to help and determining the set-up for the food, professional headshots, presentations, and more.

During the chapter meeting, we watched Julie Padgett and her team sign off for the year and induct Dave Adelman and his team for 2019. And throughout the meeting volunteers were recognized for their work, including myself as Volunteer of the Month. At the end of the event, I was simply happy it went well and everyone had a good time. I had no idea that in three years, I’d be completing my year as President-elect for the chapter.

I was approached to run for President-elect in August 2020. At the time, I was like a lot of working parents, juggling kids and work at home due to COVID-19. On top of still adjusting to the circumstances, I was preparing to transition into an Instructional Design role at the end of the month. At this point in my ATD Atlanta journey, I was serving as the VP of Communities of Practice (CoP). While I wasn’t quite sure how I’d fit this huge, but distinguished, President-elect role into my schedule, I figured I could plug the experience and skill building into my career development, so I gave it a go.

Overall, the last 14 months on the path to Chapter President have been an adventure, to say the least. I’ve had the honor of working closely with and learning from our fearless Chapter President, Cornelius Dowdell. In addition to directly building a ton of leadership competencies, I’ve had opportunities to develop my facilitation skills for different audiences and meetings, collaborate with brilliant professionals in talent and development, and build relationships with quite a few of my fellow chapter members.

How my journey is going…
One of the great things about being President-elect is that you can make the role what you want it to be. Yes, there are certain initiatives you’re required to complete, but you have a year to learn how the organization operates, and experiment with methods that could work for your year as President. I decided to focus on helping enhance a couple of our current programs, like the ATD Atlanta Mentorship Program and Leadership Academy. I also kept a pulse on how our members were feeling about virtual versus in-person events and meeting.

For our mentorship Program, I partnered with Buddy Schwenk to create a framework to align with the Association for Talent & Development (ATD) Talent & Development Capabilities Model, and we formed a committee to help plan and execute the program. At the end the program, eight out of ten mentees shared their journeys, challenges, and wins, which inspired many of us in attendance. Establishing the ATD Atlanta Mentorship Program as a signature event was one of our strategic goals for our leadership team in 2021, and we accomplished it thanks to the dedicated mentees, mentors, and planning committee. In addition to the overall program being successful, the framework Buddy and I created earned us Sharing our Success (SoS) recognition from ATD. The SOS recognition is promoted as a resource for other ATD chapters looking for ideas or best practices to use within their chapter.

From an attendee perspective two of my goals for Leadership Academy were met. I was able to directly apply the topic to my role as an Instructional Designer, which led to a teach back for my team at work. The team identified an objective that impacts all of us within our projects and applied the influence strategy steps Jeff shared in his session. Additionally, three attendees from Leadership Academy joined the 2022 Executive Board, which met my goal of identifying volunteers for the chapter’s leadership pipeline.

I experimented with a few ad hoc ideas this year but, for me, one of the most impactful experiments was determining how I would host our strategic planning meetings for the incoming Executive Board. Since we are still in the midst of a pandemic, I decided to host the first strategic planning meeting, which is typically several hours, in a hybrid format. Out of the eleven attendees, six attended in person and five attended online. We did encounter some technical issues, but everyone had the opportunity to attend the first meeting in the format they were most comfortable with. With lessons learned after experiencing the pros and cons of a hybrid meeting, we organically generated conversations about how we could solve for in-person versus online events and meetings in 2022.

What’s next…
Our current leadership team is wrapping up the year by coaching the new leaders and ensuring they have a smooth transition in January. Concurrently, I’m working closely with the 2022 Executive Board to get them onboarded and finalizing strategies and goals. I can confidently say that we are working hard to plan for another great year. We will continue working to improve member engagement and retention, provide relevant topics through our chapter programs….and I will be back in January to share what our members can look forward to from ATD Atlanta in 2022!

Published by Allison Baldwin

Welcome! My blog is a hybrid of my real-life experiences from adjusting to work after maternity leave to time management with family and work. Blog includes resources and tips to help those going through similar journeys.

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