The following is derived from my Executive Director Remarks to the membership at the Convention on April 28, 2019.
Thank you, President Michelle Nims and the entire Board of Directors, for hiring me. Being the Executive Director of the Washington State PTA is an incredible privilege and I am filled with gratitude at the opportunity to serve you, as you serve the families and children of our great state. Also, thank you, PTA leaders, for welcoming me into the fold. It was a great Convention. The best part, aside from the dancing Friday night, was the chance to meet so many members. It was wonderful.
As our Finance Officer, Janice Kutzera reported, the Washington State PTA is doing well financially. By cutting expenses we have saved some money and built up our reserves. This will give us some flexibility to better meet the challenges ahead.
The hard work of the past few years has really paid off, reducing our total expenses. We have plans to cut office expenses a bit further in the next year (nothing too drastic and it won’t impact our service to you). We are a lean and nimble operation ready for whatever comes next.
In June, the Board and staff will hold a retreat to plan our work for the year. Using the framework of the 2015-2020 Strategic Plan, we will look at our current challenges and devise strategies for confronting and overcoming them. We are in a good position to make things better for you, the members of Washington State PTA.
Of course, we cannot change anything without our members and leaders. When we reach out to you for input and support, please give us a hand. Together we can overcome any challenge we face.
As you know, one of the biggest challenges we currently face was the announcement from PT Avenue that they were going to shut down. At the office, we have been working hard the past few months to find a suitable replacement. We believe that we have found a system that is easier to use than PT Avenue, that will cost less, and that may even help you grow your membership.
If you did not get a chance to visit the nice people from memberplanet at the Convention, do not despair. Their staff and ours will be working closely with local PTA leaders in the next few months to make this big change happen. There will be training opportunities and plenty of instructions to help us all learn how to make the best use of it. They have a large customer service center who can answer all our questions, and all of us at the office will be fully trained so that we can help as well.
Back in the day, when I was a young man working for a big corporation I was fortunate enough to be introduced to the latest management training at that time. One of the many lessons that stuck in my head is that the number one job of every manager is the same – to find and groom your replacement.
If you are a president, do you know where you want to go from here? Are you looking forward to a second term in your position? Are you moving to a new school? Do you have your eye on council or maybe region level involvement? Or perhaps you just need a break? Whatever the reason for moving out of the presidency, it is hard to move on without someone to take your place.
Incoming presidents and other leaders should also take note. It is much easier to find your replacement if you start looking as soon as you take office. You will want to keep this as a top priority until you have secured that replacement.
Anyone can learn to lead. Did you know that there is generally believed to be 7-12 different forms of leadership? And the weird thing is that each can be effective. At your next board or membership meeting look around. There will be as many potential leaders in the room as there are people. The key will be to choose the one you can work with and guide them into that leadership role.
If you want or need help with this, the Washington State PTA Region Directors and Board Members are here to help. They have been in your shoes and want nothing more than to help you with your succession planning. By doing so, they will be working on their own, looking for their replacement.
We are fortunate to have an incredible staff at the Washington State PTA office. Our Chief Financial Officer, Denise Hines, does so much more than finance. She helps us with everything. With over 11 years with Washington State PTA, she serves as our institutional memory and keeps us all on track.
In her role as Local PTA Support, most local leaders know and have probably worked with Tatia Vasbinder. We are so grateful to have someone dedicated to helping you keep inside the lines even as those lines move about.
This Convention would not have been possible without the hard work of our Event Planner, Amanda Starr-Smith. She is an excellent project manager who does a great job of supporting the whole office.
Anyone interested in and involved with our advocacy is very familiar with Marie Sullivan, our lobbyist. She works tirelessly through the legislative session to schmooze, nudge, and sometimes push legislators to put children first. We are fortunate to have her by our side.
All local PTA leaders are sent the weekly Leadership News and other email newsletters. Our communications consultants, Heather Gillette and Barbara Martin, crank those out regularly. They also support our social media presence and keep all our communications clear and consistent.
Lastly, I am grateful for our go-to-guy, Kirk Miller. He served as the interim Executive Director last summer, helps us with our accounting every month, and is currently shepherding us through the member database upgrade. He has been invaluable to me and the rest of Washington State PTA, and I am grateful for his constant support.
I am grateful to all those who attended the Washington State PTA Convention. I am really looking forward to next year’s Convention at the Lynnwood Convention Center, May 15-17, 2020!
Andrew L. Estep
WSPTA Executive Director