I have literally been involved in College Media Association longer than I’ve actually been a college media adviser. And the word “literally” here is used with precision. I was fortunate enough to have been brought into the fold when I was still a graduate student, and I feel like I’ve grown up in this organization. I credit CMA with maintaining my sanity in stressful times, giving me the tools I need to stand up to critics and introducing me to my best friend. That’s why I’ve always enjoyed giving back to the organization.
In my first advising position in 2001, a position I heard about through CMA, I immediately paid my membership dues and headed off to the summer workshops in DC. I presented there as part of a panel on the challenges of advising at a private college. I haven’t stopped presenting, even though my topics and passions have certainly changed. I’ve since programmed other speakers as part of first the yearbook and non-daily newspaper committees, and later the convention planning committee. I’ve programmed the new adviser track for the past two Summer Adviser Workshops, and I’ve created a track for the fall and spring conventions for new advisers. In New York this track will lead to our first CMA certification.
While in graduate school and then after taking over at my alma mater, I wrote for and was the managing editor of College Media Review. In 2011, I started coordinating the critiques for the fall and spring conventions, and I helped implement a new registration system that was then used to further streamline the process. Working with volunteers and making a program better was incredibly rewarding and fun, and I think it’s the most fun I’ve had with CMA.
As vice president for member services, I’ve worked to approve sessions for conventions, brought back the mentorship program and began work on amending our bylaws. Through all of these positions, I’ve seen the generosity of CMA members. I’ve watched advisers give up their lunch hour in order to critique yet one more publication. This is an organization that gives without complaint and supports each other. That’s why I want to continue serving it.
And here’s what I’ll do if you elect me to continue serving.
1. Build trust: We advise our students to be leaders, to build consensus and to trust those they work with; we need to start practicing what we preach. Instead of just charging ahead with agenda items, we need to do some teambuilding on the board in order to learn each other’s priorities and strengths. We need to redefine the roles of board members and headquarters, and then trust each other to perform those duties. While the members of the board should absolutely be able to disagree on agenda items, they should have confidence that every member is committed, informed and engaged.
I believe wholeheartedly that all meetings should be open when the board isn’t discussing proprietary information or personnel. We should be announcing all the meetings, including the conference calls, posting minutes as soon as they are approved, and announcing when they are up. I also want to bring back the newsletter, in part, to inform members of what the organization has been up to in between our in-person meetings.
2. Build bridges: CMA is in a time of huge transition with new headquarters, new officers and a new convention structure. While this changes the nuts and bolts of how we do things, it shouldn’t change our priorities. I’d love to see us offer webinars, regional training that goes on the road to provide CMA expertise directly to members, and partnerships with state organizations. Reaching out to ACP, CBI, CMBAM and other organizations to find ways to serve our members and media students is a must. While all partnerships must be equitable, working together is the best way to serve our advisers and their students.
3. Build a team: In order to move forward united in a mission, I’d like to see the association find ways to get more members involved. While the old committee structure fell apart, it was a great way for members to work together, to contribute to programming and to get CMA leadership experience. The advisory council could work with the board to bring back some of these committees and brainstorm new ones. I want us to create an environment where members identify a need, the leadership seeks solutions and engages others in addressing the issue. We simply have to recreate the environment of collaboration.
The association also needs to reach out to college media advisers and managers who don’t know about us yet and invite them to join our community. We should expand the training for advisers even more (I’d love to update the handbook!), and continue growing and improving the mentorship program. We need to stop focusing all our outreach efforts on just conventions and workshops, because membership in CMA should benefit advisers even if they don’t have travel funds.
This is what I want for CMA. I want to see us remain people-focused, an organization that facilitates the networking of media managers and advisers throughout the country, a place where members share and support and inspire each other. By strengthening what we already do pretty well, we can establish shared long-term goals for the organization and expand our influence in the media professions.
QUESTIONS FROM THE MEMBERSHIP
What is your vision for CMA?
I want to see us get back to what we are truly good at – serving advisers and their students. I want to regain our collegial, collaborative spirit, and then focus on training the next generation of journalists with innovative skills and classic values. We need to build trust, build bridges and build a team.
What are your specific goals that will ensure that vision is completed?
- Make long-term and short-term programming plans for CMA depending on the results of a survey and audits. Conventions are scheduled through 2017, but very little else is set in stone. Obviously we need to hire a new convention director, but we must first know what we are tasking them with. I can’t determine what those plans are, because member input is key to moving forward. I will guarantee that members will be heard and they will know what goals the board has set.
- Again, depending on the survey and results, come up with some initiatives that serve all members and not just those with travel budgets (CMR, newsletter, etc.) Assign those initiatives to board members and volunteers.
- Initiate a survey for our entire membership to help us formulate an updated vision for CMA. There is no point in committing to a path unless it’s what the membership wants from their organization.
- Hire outside agencies to perform operational and financial audits. These are past due and will be very helpful in setting a vision with our new headquarters.
- Update the bylaws to clearly define the duties of the board members and the executive director/headquarters. This will include charging a board member to also serve as parliamentarian.
- Update our operational policies to reflect the changing communication landscape. This would include reiterating our open meetings policy and posting agendas and minutes as soon as possible, and announcing their posting.
Could you provide details about how you are going to accomplish your goals?
Most of them should be pretty easy. I have already talked with our assessment team at Rice to help us put together a membership survey, and with a little research, we can easily find companies to perform our audits. The bylaws and operational policies are already under review, so once the other steps are completed, the board and advisory council can move forward on actual goals that reflect the desires and needs of the membership. The biggest unknown is the rest of the board. The president is one person out of seven, so working with the board and the new headquarters to focus first on assessment will be my first project.
Will you mimic other journalism organizations and conspicuously post both meeting agendas and minutes?
This question seems to come up every two years with the candidates saying “of course I want more transparency.” And I’ve said that, as well. I have often been frustrated that the board (including me) doesn’t remain consistent with announcing both these things, but the board is made up of volunteers who have full-time jobs that require more than the normal 40 hours a week. Yes, I want to create a culture where agendas are drawn at least five business days before any kind of board meeting, and the secretary sends them to the membership. Yes, I want to create an environment when we approve minutes within five business days and then send them out. And now that Rachele has found a new option for conference calls, there’s no reason members can’t listen in when the board isn’t talking about anything proprietary or dealing with personnel. But it does require a cultural change on the board.
Will you announce bylaw votes before asking the membership to vote on them?
I think everyone running would say, “yeah, I’ll announce bylaw votes before asking membership to vote on them.” And technically, the current board did. We just didn’t talk about them enough. I am currently working on revising all our bylaws, and I fully intend, if it happens while I’m still on the board, to repeatedly talk about the bylaw changes I’m proposing. And I will make sure the announcement comes from me, and that I’m available for questions.
What else will you do to ensure that the CMA Board becomes more transparent to its members?
I want to bring back the newsletter at least quarterly, but preferably monthly. This would be a place to additionally announce agendas and minutes, but also to talk further about issues that might have come up. And to allow the board a more formal place to discuss policies, etc. We simply need other outlets besides conventions and the listserv to communicate with our members. I’d also like to find a way to communicate more meaningfully with the advisory board, and to get their input before the board has taken action when possible. And we should establish some committees and other volunteer opportunities for members and communicate openly with them. I also would continue to have business meetings at conventions scheduled against nothing else.
Will you vote to partner with ACP again for a fall convention even if it means returning to the previous contract terms?
This is a more complex issue than a yes or no. A partnership is a possibility considering all the leadership turnover in both groups, but it’s not something that can happen immediately. We have made moves to directly compete with them, and they have behaved in kind. Both sides would have to agree to abandon those predatory actions, would have to find ways to lessen the negative impact our competition will have in the next two years, and then agree to more long-term arrangements.
Why or Why not?
If I had to vote today and nothing had changed on either side of the table, I’d probably stick to not going forward with ACP. Fortunately, I think there might be room for talks again. The players are different now, and the media and educational landscapes continue to change. It would be wonderful to find an equitable way to partner with ACP or other groups. Not just for financial reasons, but to try to bring that collaborative spirit back to CMA and to serve our members and their students in the best way possible.
What's your philosophy on the future of CMA: Compete with other organizations or partner with them?
This question is a bit slanted, because there are numerous options in between. You don’t have to go head to head and try to chip away at another organization, but the other option isn’t just to enter into partnerships. I’d love for there to be one huge college media convention a year with all the acronyms involved (ACP, CMBAM, CBI, CSPA, SCJ, etc.), and then each group could provide smaller workshops or conventions that cater very specifically to their membership. But any collaborations would have to be fair and truly serve the membership.
If you want to partner with other organizations, which organizations would you want to partner with?
It’s too simplistic to say you want to work with other organizations without there being some context. Working with other organizations should happen when it means we are serving our members and their students. Aside from talking with ACP, trying to partner with CBI and CMBAM are logical steps. Many of our members are also members in those organizations, and they are offering specialized training in two areas that we aren’t as strong in. Depending on what happens with our headquarters, those partnerships may open up. Also working with scholastic and professional organizations can help create connections that may benefit our members. We are already working with the Society of Collegiate Journalists and Columbia Scholastic Press Association, so partnerships don’t always have to be huge commitments or financial agreements. They just need to benefit both parties.
Please add anything else you think can help our members know you and your leadership style.
I’m not a politician, and while I have enjoyed serving on the board, most of what I have loved has been working directly with the members through workshops, sessions and the mentorship program. I really want to see those things continue and thrive. I decided to run because maybe I can accomplish some other things on a larger scale. I love CMA because of the people. I really want to see us work together again, to trust each other and to make a plan for moving forward.