Happy spring, RMASFAA! It hardly seems possible that two months have passed since my last blog post, or that I’m nearing the halfway point of my tenure as RMASFAA President. (My wife lovingly reminds me that time flies when one gets old and senile.) Frankly, it is easy for me to feel overwhelmed as I think about the constraints of time and how much work there is to do in order to progress toward the noble goals of our Association and our profession at large. I will admit that I frequently feel weak and inadequate (and sometimes I wonder if I’ve done any good at all!). Gratefully, very often during such moments, I bump into the collective strength of friends and colleagues like you, and I remember the quote from Helen Keller that I shared at our last RMASFAA conference: “Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.” I see so many examples of synergy and growth that simply would not occur if we all operated in isolation, and I feel energized and encouraged once again.
Yesterday, I spoke with a professor friend on our campus and he mentioned a recent experience with a young man in one of his classes. This particular student has taken several courses from my friend and has struggled every time. However, just last week he made a surprising contribution to his current class that was both unique and valuable. Retelling the experience to me, the professor reported: “Everyone has something to offer.” I believe one of the greatest opportunities that comes with my current position is having so many chances to see that very thing in action. When we each offer what we can, simultaneously supporting and learning from one another (or as Helen Keller put it, living “by each other and for each other”), the whole truly does become greater than the sum of its parts, benefitting both the individual and the larger group.
At the end of February, I had the privilege of joining with a strong, collaborative group of RMASFAA volunteers who perfectly embody this concept. I am pleased to report that your Board of Directors and Committee Chairs are actively making contributions in order to strengthen our Association, which essentially means providing more value and support to you. It is both inspiring and encouraging to watch them innovate and complement one another in many ways. It is even more inspiring to consider the many others who were not at the meeting, but who are making contributions of their own and moving the work of RMASFAA forward. The Board takes very seriously our responsibility to represent and recognize the combined efforts of so many. Highlights of the meeting included working with Justin Draeger (NASFAA President & CEO) to identify what RMASFAA does best and explore ways to increase efficiencies and better align our efforts with RMASFAA’s unique mission, as well as those of NASFAA and the state associations. We also rolled out a new and improved online process for expense reimbursement, continued work on the development of a proposal for updating RMASFAA’s corporate support policies and structure, and formalized our recognition of the outstanding work in each committee. I invite you to take a few minutes and review the reports under the “Leadership” section of rmasfaa.org (official minutes of the meeting will be posted by the end of April), and also to identify one or two ways that you can get involved and add your own unique contributions to the work of RMASFAA.
Edward Hale, a 19th-century American author, historian, and Unitarian minister, said, “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” So I pick myself up and move forward, contributing where I can and trusting that, when combined with the perspectives and efforts of so many others who surround me, my simple offering will somehow make a difference and we will all be a little better and a little closer to our goals. I invite every RMASFAA member to participate in this remarkable process, whether by taking part in the Leadership Pipeline program, attending Summer Institute or the annual conference, thoughtfully providing feedback to guide RMASFAA’s long-range plans, casting an informed vote for future officers of the Association, networking and sharing best practices with colleagues, or in so many other ways. Your perspective is valued and your participation is very needed. Go ahead and put us to the test! I think you’ll be surprised at how much good we can do. Together.