July’s Message From the President

154445_797492876942911_435976117_nThe GRAVA membership may not be aware of it, but it’s been a pretty grueling year for the board.

We’ve been meeting twice as often to get twice as much done. On top of all of our regular monthly tasks & duties, we’ve worked hard to implement some major strategic changes, many of which were specifically requested by our members. We debated practices that have been part of the GRAVA status quo for years, carefully discussing which ones contributed lasting value and which ones could be adjusted or maybe even discontinued altogether. We tried new things for the sake of the organization’s continued vitality – I am all for trying new things – because we agreed that keeping within our comfort zone purely for the sake of being comfortable was not an acceptable option. Through our work we tried to exemplify leadership because we really believe in the leadership dimension of volunteer engagement. And we tried to reflect the values that we really believe define GRAVA: the importance of professionalism, the power of shared wisdom, the benefits of active participation, and the value of our contributions to the conversations that matter most in this community.

So the excitement I saw last week at our culminating annual conference and the feedback shared in the surveys could not make me happier or more proud.

“This was a great day! Lots of good information and networking opportunities!”

“These conferences always provide excellent opportunities to learn as a professional!”

“Wonderful conference…presentations were thought-provoking and challenging and inspirational!”

“The topics, as always, blew me out of my ‘box’….great job, team!”

“Great conference & great group attitude/vibe – made me glad I just became a member!”

I’m not by any means tooting my own horn here. Excellence really is a team effort, and we could not have had a better team this year, a team that certainly includes but is not limited to our fantastic board. Who else made excellence possible this year? Here’s who comes to mind, in no particular order:

  • Capital One, because of their support for GRAVA, their investment in the Service Enterprise Initiative, and their commitment as community partners in the volunteer engagement equation;
  • HandsOn Greater Richmond, not just because of their partnership with GRAVA (which is invaluable on so many levels) but also because of their visionary role in supporting the spirit and practice of volunteerism in our community;
  • All conference sponsors, who made it possible for us to bring in a nationally renowned presenter and take the overall quality of our conference to the next level;
  • This year’s winner of GRAVA’s Volunteer Engagement Professional of the Year award, Rosemary Jones, whose extraordinary commitment to excellence in the field of volunteer engagement serves as a source of inspiration and pride to all GRAVA members;
  • The three remaining 2014 award nominees who, even though they were not selected (this year), demonstrated to their supervisors and organizations the importance of high standards of our profession;
  • Katie Campbell, whose guidance and wisdom has played a big part in GRAVA’s journey toward greater strategic relevance and value;
  • New board members, whose combined commitments to their professional development and to GRAVA have led them to take on critical leadership roles in service to our membership;
  • GRAVA members, who understand that GRAVA can’t achieve its goals without an active, engaged, and participatory community of professionals!

As the 2013-2014 cycle draws to a close, I especially want to express my appreciation to those board members who are rotating off (secretary Julie Adams-Buchanan, treasurer Anne Burgess, professional development chair Kim Frola, and conference chair Stephanie Gossett); my thanks to those board members who are continuing (public relations chair Rebecca Butler, membership chair and president-elect Melissa Gilmore, programs chair Sarah Steadman); and my welcome to those board members who are rotating on (conference chair Lisa Adkins, hospitality chair Kate Bausman, treasurer Kyndall Drumheller, secretary Mary France, co-conference chair Sheryl Luebke, and professional chair Athena Parker). It’s an absolute privilege to work with such a great team, and I can’t wait to see what 2014-2015 will bring!

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