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Final Transition Steering Committee Report: October

Finishing Strong

At our final Transition Steering Committee meeting for 2017, we took a few minutes to celebrate the momentum we’ve built. We’ve been so busy working on projects, that I think even we were surprised by everything that our newly formed regional chapter had accomplished when we reflected upon the year.

As the final report of year, let’s take some time to review the details of the journey, directly leading to the plans for next year. This will be a long post, but I think you’ll be reassured and reminded that we apply the same passion and process to running the chapter as we do to our profession.

One-Year Plan Turns Into Two

In March, we had gathered in the same conference room at Make-A-Wish to review all of the commitments and programs grandfathered in by the former chapters, along with all of the transition tasks, that needed to be considered in combining the three local chapters that had served Oregon and SW Washington for the last 60 years.  There were nearly 100.  

At the time, we determined we couldn’t pursue them all this year. We resolved to undertake the transition over two phases in two years and prioritized projects for 2017 that best set up the chapter for success and that would ultimately bring the most value to our members.

Phase One: Nearly Complete

Work on phase one projects is nearly complete.  As we wrap up in November, last steps are to:

  • Back up and redirect the former chapters’ websites to the new PRSA Oregon website;
  • Finalize an inventory of the chapter’s accounts and subscriptions;
  • Complete the updated Policies and Procedures document compilation;
  • Send out chapter pins to founding members who didn’t attend events where they were distributed (please email your address to membership@prsaoregon.org if you need your pin sent to you!);
  • Reconcile final expenses from the former chapters to complete for the final annual income statement and balance sheet of the chapter’s finances;
  • Hold an orientation in November of newly elected board members;
  • And, have a virtual annual membership meeting & elections in November so everyone can attend!
Phase Two in 2018

We’ve also clearly defined what needs to get done next year as part of phase two of the transition. We have a well-documented road map built off our 2017 action plan to share with the incoming board during orientation.

This plan will guide the newly formed Executive Committee that is taking over the transition management and comprises officers, assembly delegates, immediate past president, for 2018 the communications director as well.

This team will take over for the ad hoc Transition Steering Committee from 2017 and the Statewide Governance Committee in 2016 and hold a quarterly call to make decisions and measure progress.

The Transition Phase 2 action plan includes:

  • Strategic priorities summary
  • Proposed schedule and milestones
  • New organizational chart
  • New job descriptions
  • New manuals, along with volunteer and board training
  • Detailed activity and task recommendations
Phase Two: Big Projects

The Executive Committee will oversee six phase two projects in order to complete the smooth transition of three chapters into one chapter that’s built on operational and communications best practices.

The six big projects support the current strategic priorities:

Sustainable Systems

  • Integrated annual budget across programs to ensure cost effectiveness
  • Useful and ethical policies & procedures manual to steer volunteer-run operations
  • Revised bylaws approved by national to reflect the organizational and programming structure

Consummate Communications

  • Comprehensive marketing and communications plan that will include external and internal strategies, including considerations of how to deploy technology to unify members
  • Membership engagement survey to set a baseline for the chapter in 2018 and then enable regular feedback and measurement the “pulse of the membership”

Everybody Connects

  • New database tool for tracking membership engagement and relationship management
Changes, FAQ for 2018

The creation of next year’s priorities, projects and programs were all influenced by our Listening Tour where we learned ideas and input, plus heard concerns and barriers, directly from members.

We’ve integrated as much of our findings into the planning process as feasible for 2018, including these additional changes throughout the year.

January

With all 25 committee members committed, the Service team will provide volunteer orientations.

We will also host a virtual annual membership meeting.

Q: Why another annual meeting so soon?

A: Because currently our bylaws required an “annual meeting” hosted prior to Nov. 30 in order to elect a board, but the membership preferred an annual membership meeting as a “state of the union” to kick off the year. Once switched in 2018, then the next one will be January 2019. Elections will likely remain separate, administered remotely and electronically.

February

To reflect our broad geography, we will host quarterly, in-person board meetings around the region instead of monthly in-person board meetings.

Q: So the board will only meet 4 times?

A: Not quite. The Executive committee (comprising half the board) will meet quarterly and likely remotely,  the board will meet quarterly and in-person, and each of the six program committees (events, membership, service, advocacy, sponsorship, and communications) will meet quarterly and in-person ideally though perhaps more frequently via remote meetings, to make decisions and measure progress. That breaks down to about a monthly meeting and potential travel per board role, which seemed reasonable. Some will have more meetings if they also serve on a subcommittee.

April

We will start the nomination committee process earlier and hold the service draft in June to nominate board members, followed by the service draft in August to nominate committee members.

Q: Why start so soon in the year?

A: The nominating, recruitment and commitment process is a long one. So that board members can be elected prior to the PRSA International Conference, as and if amended in our bylaws, we need to start sooner than July like in the past.

 Phase You: Getting Involved

Throughout the year and during the Listening Tour, we’ve consistently heard how excited members are about the changes, process and progress. Our unofficial motto this year has been: “it takes a village.”

So, how can you help out next year?

  • Host a board meeting at your office
  • Suggest or introduce contacts at a destination venue for CommCon or Spotlights
  • Work with the events team to set up a tour at a local media outlet
  • Volunteer — one-time events, self service, currently open roles (check out our writer opening) or suggest something else!

Those are just a few starter ideas, we’d love to hear more. Please reach out to listening@prsaoregon.org.

Above And Beyond

Personally, I’m very proud of the Transition Steering Committee team:

BeverlyDaveDavid, ElisaJillLilyLoralynMaritzaMarkMeganSiobhan, TaylorTracey, and consultation from Colby and Brian – what we accomplished and the connections we made in the process with so many members around the region.

Instead of monthly conference calls, this team opted to meet in-person every month, offered up their offices to host (with AV and snacks!), and stayed well past the scheduled meeting time every month in order to plan effectively and execute comprehensively because, in their words’, “the work was just too important.”

We knew what an honor it was for the membership to entrust the Transition Steering Committee, in consultation with board, with the mission to smoothly integrate three chapters into one.

We feel confident that this founding year set a strong foundation for future leaders to meet the chapter’s and profession’s needs going forward. Vision 2020, here we come!

Yours in Service,
Julie

Julie Williams, APR, MA
2018 PRSA Oregon President-Elect
Transition Steering Committee Chair
Outreach Task Force Co-Chair

Transition Steering Committee Report: July-August

Building A Foundation For 2018

July and August were milestone months for PRSA Oregon’s transition to a regional chapter.

We launched a service draft to fill board and committee positions for 2018 after all members were invited to volunteer for a role. With this input, the Nominating Committee, including all current board members,  gathered and selected nominees starting in July.

Part two of the service draft will include all nominees for incoming board positions as additional Nominating Committee members, to weigh in and help build their teams. Our goal was to ensure next year’s leaders represent the chapter’s geographic diversity and that the new team has plenty of time for onboarding folks from all over.

This new system was prototyped by last year’s Service Committee and validated by  feedback from this year’s Listening Tour. Its benefits include leadership succession planning for the continued growth and sustainability of the merged chapter.

Also in July, the Transition Steering Committee published a full report on feedback from the Listening Tour and mailed a summary to all members in late August.

In creating the report, we saw that the Becoming PRSA Oregon Communications Plan, which included Listening Tour activities, can serve as a model for engaging membership and supporting organizational change in any chapter.

We continued the Listening Tour sessions in Portland in June and in Salem during the member welcome brunch in August. It was fun to reconnect with members and report out what we learned and how we’re adapting already. We also eagerly collected input on chapter programming for next year.

The discussion sessions have exceeded our expectations. It’s encouraging to see such a high level of engagement – exactly what our members agreed was needed moving forward. All members are welcome to join the final session, which will be part of the member brunch in Eugene on Sept. 16.

During the summer, headway was also made on updating policies and procedures and developing a draft code of conduct, along with starting planning for the chapter’s leadership elections in November (date still to be determined).

The transition from three chapters to one regional organization has been time consuming, but  rewarding. It has required the Board of Directors and volunteers to spend way less time on direct programming and way more time on setting up operational systems and best practices. Short-term trade-offs for long-term benefits.

At a recent meeting, I asked the team: “What has been most rewarding for you this year?”

Some of the responses:

  • Seeing new members and prospective members be welcomed.
  • Watching #BecomingPRSAOregon (the communications plan) unfold and be embraced by members and watching them really getting it —and feeling excited about it!
  • Seeing the enthusiasm from members and volunteers about the new service draft process.
  • Experiencing the overall enthusiasm and support for transition at statewide level.

Thanks for sticking with us during this transition time.

Yours in Service,

Julie

Julie Williams, APR, MA
2018 PRSA Oregon President-Elect
Transition Steering Committee Chair
Outreach Task Force Co-Chair
Nominating Committee Co-Chair