I had the privilege of attending the Schuldiner/Smollan Memorial Leadership Academy conducted by the National Association of Enrolled Agents. This academy teaches about effective governance of state affiliates of NAEA (and I feel the concepts taught can apply broadly to all not-for-profit boards).
I’m not big on over-the-top emotional expressions and exaggerations, but I have to say: this was a life-changing experience. And it was FUN. The camaraderie of my group was unbelievable. I made so many great connections. And I learned valuable information.
I’m president of the Iowa Society of EAs. We used to be an active group. We’d get 30 people attending meetings, which is amazing for a group our size (we topped out at around 75 members).
Over the last 5 years, the group has drifted apart. We’re down to approximately 55 members, and no one comes to meetings anymore. We have a skeleton board of directors that meets by phone a few times a year, but we haven’t had a face-to-face meeting in 18 months, and only 3 or 4 people attended that meeting.
Attending the leadership academy will help turn the Iowa Society around. In my application for the academy, I wrote that I felt it was vital to keep the group alive, because EAs have to stick together.
Because there are so few of us, some would say (and some have said) to just let the group die. This cannot happen. EAs in Iowa are small in
number … but that’s all the more reason for us to stick together! Most of the EAs I know are solo operators such as me, and we tend to exist in isolation in our own little silos. The number-one thing EAs in Iowa have told me they want is networking and a sense of community. Keeping the Iowa Society alive will help provide that.
I have too many thoughts about the future of EAs, lessons learned, the future of ISEA, and thoughts on not-for-profit governance in general to put into this blog post. More to come.