I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of communication. I was fortunate to recently take part in the Member Network Summer Meeting in Phoenix and observed the strength of our governance model in action. Seeing the complexity and depth of Member Network team’s work  filled me with great respect for these individuals serving the NIRSA Family. By bringing a unique lens for each NIRSA region, they are thought-partners focused on member engagement and the value of NIRSA experiences.

I also had the opportunity to see the Student Leadership Team in action! And I do mean IN ACTION. – These amazing students started their social media campaign for the year! The purpose and passion of the student leaders will be evident as the upcoming year unfolds and we find ourselves in Phoenix for #NIRSA2020. Follow the NIRSA Student’s on Twitter and Instagram to learn the identity of their 2020 mascot and the important work they will being doing for our Association.

To serve the humans of NIRSA, the Member Network Chair Chris Denison and the Member Network team have developed their goals and started to implement them for the 2019-2020 leadership year. Their work will focus on strong communication with members by providing two-way communication between members and Association leaders, developing resources to help members map their leadership journey, and strengthening the mentor program.

The face-to-face meeting in Phoenix allowed dedicated work time for the Member Network team and each representative will play a vital role in connecting members in each region with the strategic initiatives and value proposition of NIRSA.

The value of strong communication was a common theme throughout the meetings. The Member Network representatives and Student Leadership Team stressed the importance of articulating relevant information in a meaningful way to their regions. It was apparent how much each of these representatives cares about the members in their region. After spending a few days with these NIRSA volunteers, I am overwhelmed by their intensity of service and shared commitment to making good things happen for the NIRSA family.

An important topic for me to explore during my time with the Member Network was the planned communication and opportunities for feedback related to upcoming Bylaws proposals about dues increases.

See related: “Update about membership dues

The Board of Directors wants to ensure that the communication with the members is effective and has accessible avenues for collecting and considering member feedback. The discussion with the Member Network gave me the opportunity to better understand the impact of communication surrounding proposed Bylaw changes in 2019 and to brainstorm together on how to improve in 2020.

I appreciate the openness and frankness of NIRSA volunteers, and their willingness to give me feedback and to work together for the next iteration of how to communicate proposed changes to NIRSA Bylaws at regional and state conferences this fall. I strongly feel that the Member Network Update session at regional and state conferences should be focused on the needs of the region. Working with this results-focused group of professionals and the amazing student leadership team, we are determined that the Board of Directors session at each regional conference will devote time and space to discuss any proposal and answer questions about the impact of changes to Association Bylaws.

It is our hope to also have this session as web-based video conference call, so members not attending at the regional events can also join the conversation. The Member Network, Student Leadership Team, and NIRSA Headquarters team members provided suggestions for engaging with Region III members as well, so we can be sure and provide an opportunity for the same level of interaction with members who attend state workshops. Working together the Member Network, Student Leadership Team, NIRSA HQ staff, and Board of Directors members are focused on evolving NIRSA’s structures to cultivate timely and accessible communication with all members.

The work of the Member Network and Student Leadership Team is critical to advancing the NIRSA Strategic Plan that is firmly grounded in our value proposition.

I am incredibly grateful to have been able to spend time with these dedicated individuals. I am excited to see where their work takes our organization. The Member Network and Student Leadership Team are ready to lead in this pivotal role for our NIRSA.

“Leadership develops daily, not in a day.”  —John Maxwell

Director of Recreational Sports at |

Leah Hall Dorothy, Ph.D., is currently the Director of Recreational Sports at Oregon State University and serves as the President on the NIRSA Board of Directors; she can be reached by email at president@nirsa.org.