2017 brings change and a birthday

Hunt begins for new ED, OWAA turns 90

I was talking to a fellow OWAA board member back in early November about the winter board meeting, and I told her things had been pretty quiet during the first half of my presidency. Everything, I explained, was moving along swimmingly.
That all changed two days later when Tom Sadler, our executive director, dropped his bomb and told me he was leaving his position.
After a deep breath acknowledging the task ahead, I congratulated Tom and thanked him for his four years with OWAA. Then we started earnestly talking about the next steps for Tom and for our organization.
OWAA is in a much better place today than it was when Tom was hired. It would be wrong to give Tom all the credit for the strides accomplished during his time as the executive director — I know he would agree with that sentiment.
Tom worked with the board and our members, but he also pushed our leadership to take more ownership for some of the issues. Of course, Jessica Seitz, our membership and conference staffer, has played a large role in our successes. So did OWAA part-time employee Kelsey Dayton. It has, indeed, been a group effort.
According to multiple sources, most employees in the United States these days average about 4½ years before moving on to other opportunities. Tom fell just a little short of the national norm, but I won’t hold it against him.
While change at the top can be nerve-racking and take some adjustment, it should also be viewed as a healthy process for non-profit organizations. I personally feel the change can be particularly beneficial to professional nonprofit organizations like OWAA.
The selection committee, created by then president Mark Taylor, drafted a job description that tasked Tom with stopping membership declines and getting OWAA’s finances back in the black.
Recognizing the importance of this job description in finding our new executive director, I asked Mark to again be a part of the committee. I also asked a couple of other previous OWAA presidents, as well as former and current board members.
I reached outside of the committee for input from others I felt could offer sound advice on what OWAA is looking for in a new executive director.
Vice President Phil Bloom chairs the Strategic Plan Committee and I asked him to encourage the committee members to send me their thoughts on what skills the next executive director should exhibit.
Tom’s job for the past four years served as a template for a new job description. I also asked Tom to create a “Pass the Torch” document explaining the day-to-day duties of leading OWAA. Our Board of Directors and Executive Committee started using this type of document several years ago help our elected volunteers understand their duties during their terms. It has proven a valuable tool, and we owe thanks to board member Kris Millgate for suggesting we use it.
The selection committee will consider suggestions from all resources before coming up with the final description, which as of deadline for the magazine hadn’t been finalized.
Picking a new executive director is only half the battle. An executive director is only as good as the job description in front of them. Preparing this document and picking a new leader is a time-consuming task full of heavy responsibility. I want to thank the selection committee for volunteering their time, in addition to other OWAA duties many of them have, for the vitally important job of finding OWAA a new leader.
OWAA Turns 90
A new executive director is not the only excitement 2017 holds for OWAA. As of April 9, our organization will be nine decades old. This is truly something to celebrate. As current members of the organization, we need to reflect on all that has been accomplished since our beginnings, but we also need to focus on our vision for the future and all we can do in the next 90 years.
As chair of the marketing committee, board member Tom Keer and his gang came up with a campaign to celebrate our 90th birthday. You may have seen some teasing of this already, if not keep an eye out for it.
There will be specific suggestions for ways to recognize this important achievement, but I’d like our members to think about things they can do to help OWAA continue to grow, remain vital and serve our community.
These ideas could range from setting a goal of personally finding two new members, asking your favorite outdoor gear company if they might want to join as a Supporting Group, helping find a sponsor for one of our currently unsponsored Excellence in Craft contests or making a contribution to one of the many funds which help keep OWAA operating.
These are truly exciting times for OWAA. I hope you will join me in celebrating our wonderful collection of outdoor communicators. ♦
— OWAA President Brett Prettyman, brettoutdoors@yahoo.com

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