I was absolutely delighted to receive the CSAE Trillium Chapter Emerging Talent Award! Receiving recognition from one’s peers is an exceptional honour and, in my experience, so is getting involved in your association. In addition to completing my CAE, volunteering in CSAE has allowed me to maximize the value of my membership by helping me quickly build a network of dynamic, engaged peers across Canada, begin to establish a professional profile in the sector and learn vital skills I can then leverage for my career at my own association.
Shortly after joining CSAE, I was accepted to present at the Trillium Winter Summit, and it was a great way to share my expertise and connect with others. I then went on to present a webinar, volunteer as a mentor to CAE students, serve on the Membership Committee and Volunteer Management sub-committee, present at CSAE’s national conference and am currently co-chairing the 2019 conference. I have submitted content to the CSAE blog more than 10 times and also published in the Association magazine.
As an association executive with over 1000 members and 1.5 staff, I know firsthand how vital engaged volunteers are to associations. Without 30% of my membership volunteering we would not have mentorship, awards, professional development including conferences and a college certificate, or any other programs! Volunteering provides all of us with more leadership experience, allows us to learn more about our profession, trends and best practices across the sector, broadens our exposure beyond our own associations and gives us instant access to peer expertise. I am always encouraging my members to learn some new skills by developing them through contributing to the association – from public speaking to networking to mentoring – these opportunities have helped people fill in gaps on their resumes and increase their career options.
Volunteering myself has ensured that I continue to learn more about how to make volunteering rewarding for my own members from determining opportunities for volunteers, role creation, identifying volunteers’ goals and supporting their achievement of those goals, to meaningful recognition. Being a committed volunteer not only gives me insight into how challenging it can be to find time to be a reliable volunteer but also gives me greater legitimacy when recruiting members to assist my association. My board is made up of invested volunteers who fully support me leading by example to volunteer with CSAE. Because they see the value of volunteering within our association, they appreciate my volunteer work and support me going to CSAE conferences, not only because of the value of professional development for me but equally because of the value I am contributing.
I urge all CSAE members to get involved, not only for the next generation of association leaders but those you will impact today. It is a great way to highlight to your employer that you are a leader beyond your professional role. Further, the sense of accomplishment, confidence and momentum you get from volunteering will positively impact your career and life. My network has given me career opportunities and also provided a solid pool to draw on for hiring purposes that I have shared with others. I hope to meet you on a CSAE committee soon!
Executive Director, Canadian Association of Research Administrators
Recipient of the 2017 CSAE Trillium Chapter Emerging Talent Award