Todd has served as the Associate Director of Operations and Student Development at Portland State University’s (PSU) Campus Rec since 2007. Prior to that he was the department’s Outdoor Program Coordinator—the culmination of 19 years in adventure recreation. Todd moved to his current position to prepare for the 2010 opening of the Portland State Student Recreation Center. Todd and his operations staff engage with approximately 370,000 member-visits each year. He is the department’s representative to the university for all things concerning the physical building and its operations, including a $1.2 million expansion that took place after the center was open for just five years. In addition to recreation-focused duties on campus, Todd serves on the PSU Safety Committee and the EMSA Division Professional Development Committee. He has also served on the EMSA Division Assessment Council.
Todd has been a NIRSA member since 2007. In that time, he served on the inaugural NIRSA Assembly (2010–2012) and the faculty of the NIRSA School of Collegiate Recreation (2014–2016) with one year as its chairperson. In 2014, he served on Region VI/AORE Planning Committee for the Super Social held during the co-located conferences for Region VI and AORE in Portland. In addition to these points of service, Todd has also made numerous presentations at NIRSA annual and regional conferences. His topics have included: decision making, organizational staffing roles, hiring, assessment, play, and inclusion. Prior to joining NIRSA, Todd was a member of the Association of Outdoor Education and Recreation (AORE) for nearly 19 years—including three years on the Board of Directors.
Moving to Oregon 18 years ago, Todd lives in Portland with his wife Laura Pedersen and their dog Tilly Jane. Laura is a native Oregonian (Eugene) and graduated from the University of Oregon, which allows Todd the “credentials” to legitimately cheer for the Oregon Ducks. Which he does whenever he is not out hiking, rafting, skiing, biking, hiking, or kayaking.
What do you see as opportunities in collegiate recreation and our Association? How would you collaborate with the Member Network team to address these issues?
A Kurt Vonnegut passage ends in a quote attributed to Frank Sinatra: “Do, be, do, be, do.” That is shorthand for what I see in my future of NIRSA and my work with the membership of Region VI.
Do: As a Member Network representative, I will help Region VI use NIRSA resources; especially as they continue to evolve and focus attention on current and future strategic plans. I will help members understand how these resources can be adapted to their campuses. By working with the rest of the Member Network, I hope to help everyone represent NIRSA values at their institution by turning ideas into actions.
Be: NIRSA often operates in the background of our lives. I will encourage people to study what NIRSA promises each of us and, in turn, better understand what NIRSA provides. The current work on the next strategic plan is a perfect example of this—we all need to find ways to provide feedback as requested. Working with the Member Network, I will bring you what NIRSA promises to be.
Do: As professionals in higher education, our job is developing healthy, global citizens who can guide us through the future. Working with the Member Network, my primary focus will be delivering NIRSA resources and helping you develop future employees in all professional fields.
Be: I will encourage people to allow time each day to do the thought-work needed to recognize changes and opportunities that evolve around us. With the Member Network, I will continue to promote professional development and micro-development (short developmental breaks) in our daily responsibilities. I’ll also encourage searching for ideas from outside our industry setting. NIRSA provides numerous outlets for this. I’ll help get them into the hands of members.
Do: The world is slowly catching up to our values as an organization. Words and ideas that I first heard in NIRSA ten years ago are showing up in media, other organizations, and even at dining room tables. We are doing great work and it is catching on. Yet we know there is more to do. Working with the Member Network, I’ll encourage us, as an organization, to be nimble enough to recognize and take on the next big thing.
In describing your contributions to NIRSA, identify how your involvement and experiences meet the position criteria and qualify you to serve NIRSA in this role.
In the quote referenced above, Frank Sinatra’s “do, be, do, be, do” is meant to be a punchline. However, it could be the wisest thing ever said. My recipe for active engagement is three parts “do” and two parts “be.” My experience in NIRSA has taught me the importance of thinking (be) and acting (do).
I detail my experience below, but let me start with this. There is a lot of work to do for NIRSA and this region. That work has deadlines. My experience with the NIRSA School of Collegiate Recreation, and specifically as the chairperson, has prepared me to get things done for NIRSA. However, I also know how to find information and inspiration at the edges of our industry and bring it back to the center. My experience on the Assembly taught me to sort through ideas in search of bits that stakeholders would find interesting.
In the end, there is always more “do” than “be” in life.
The NIRSA Assembly: I was rather new to NIRSA when I served on the Assembly. This was a plus and minus as the NIRSA Assembly was brand new too. In that time, I came to appreciate how ideas “work.” It isn’t the greatness of the idea as much as it is the buy-in of others. Believe me, I have countless brilliant ideas. However, the ideas must be bound to time, place, and network—the right time, the right place, and the right people are what turn ideas into action.
The NIRSA School of Collegiate Recreation (NSCR)
This lesson propelled me into my three-year NSCR faculty assignment. This group had structure, direction, and deadlines. A smaller team, the faculty are thinkers. More importantly, they are a nimble organization of doers. We could visit the perceived boundaries of our profession and return with ideas on which to adapt and elaborate. We delivered on the goals of the School and the Association. Most importantly, we brought value to the participants of NSCR.
Please share your ideas for cultivating leaders in your region.
Leadership is curiosity, realization, and confidence.
As a Member Network delegate, I will serve as the messenger of NIRSA to Region VI. My job will be to create curiosity within the membership. From this curiosity will grow the personal realization that one may, or may not, want to get more involved. This decision to get involved is a purely personal one. In general, not everyone feels they have enough at stake to make the time to be involved. But everyone needs to have access to the knowledge that informs that personal decision. While I will not know all the answers to everything NIRSA, I will help find the answers and explore the topics with you.
As your Member Network delegate, I’m also your messenger to NIRSA. So, while the realization for how deeply to get involved is yours, I can be an accomplice to your confidence to act once you have decided to jump in. Confidence to act was summed-up by, country music artist Waylon Jennings when he said, “There is always another way to do things—your way.” This is a foundational belief that I have—anyone can be a leader in this work. All it takes is sound confidence in your beliefs and realizing that “ability” may develop further along the way. We can, and will, work together to create leadership opportunities for Region VI members.