I started to write this about a week and a half ago as my term as Treasurer for ARMA International was drawing to a close. It's one of those posts that sometimes needs a little more time to simmer before considering it done.
Having served on the International Board as a Director, and most recently as Treasurer, I'm again a regular member of the Association. Ever since I was but a wee records manager in 1987, I have pretty much had something to do with ARMA at some level. I think I took a couple years off around 2000 when I left some ARMA Committees, but otherwise I've been involved with some sort of Board almost my entire professional career. And with a fairly heavy speaking calendar for a number of years, I suppose that I've been pretty visible in the organization.
ARMA isn't quite done with me yet, however. I've been drafted to participate in a couple of task forces for the Board, but I have asked to act primarily in the "of counsel" role, rather than as a hard core worker bee. And there is a presentation at the ARMA Conference in Las Vegas and whatever else I get drafted to do....
In some respects, I feel that I have done just about all that could be expected of me. The Day Job is pretty demanding and that "just one hour per month" commitment to ARMA is a bit more than I want on my plate. However, over the course of these 20 years, I have received far more than I have given. I've learned leadership and business skills far beyond what I could have gotten in my workplaces. I've learned a bit more patience and perhaps some additional benefit of the doubt at times. The challenge and benefit of serving on volunteer boards is that the faces change every 12 months. Some stay, some leave, and some new ones come on board. And that continual renewal of leadership brings a healthy opportunity to adapt to new people and consider new and diverse ideas.
I suspect that among my dear friends will be more than a few who suggest that this will be yet another temporary respite from the clutches of ARMA International. Time, of course, will tell. For now, however, I'll be happy doing the Day Job and thinking about how the profession evolves, both for me and for the profession at large.
Over 20 years ago when I first ran across this organization called ARMA, times were very different. At the Chapter level, we were able to have volunteers who could put many hours of ARMA service into their day jobs. We had many volunteers who spent untold hours toiling away at newsletters, member mailings, or event publicity. The companies where ARMA's members worked would donate not only time, but postage and sometimes printing services. I can recall a number of evenings spent at home with a pile of flyers, envelopes, mailing labels and stamps. Today, companies have leaned down so much that very few can provide the people resources, much less the printing and mailing resources, that they once did. Many records functions have become smaller, while many new records functions are strategic in nature.
ARMA International's staff carries a much bigger load today than in the past. It is a challenge at all levels of the organization to find both volunteers for projects and leaders for the local or International organization. In spite of this, ARMA has been growing. The organization has strong finances and healthy reserves. ARMA has delivered some significant projects and looks to continue to expand its offerings. But it is a long row to hoe.
I am glad that I have had the opportunity to serve ARMA International and its membership. If you would like a similar opportunity to shape both your profession and your professional organization, I encourage you to consider volunteering at the local or International level.