East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists

From the desk of President Mia

Mia Rhodarmer

September 2008

I had the opportunity to represent our chapter at the Ted Scripps Leadership Institute June 6-8 in Indianapolis.

Fifty chapter leaders from all corners of the country attended. We even had someone there from Hawaii.

The price of gas was an ice-breaker and topic of many conversations. I didn’t hear how much gas was in Hawaii, but they are paying $6 a gallon for milk! We spent our first afternoon getting to know each other through a variety of activities such as giving an “elevator” speech about why we are SPJ members and an SPJ trivia contest.

Friday evening we went duck pin bowling. For those of you unfamiliar with this sport, it is similar to regular bowling, except the balls are smaller and the pins are heavier, but you wear the same goofy shoes.

Saturday was a challenging and inspiring day. Our classes started at 8:30 with several hours spent learning about different leadership styles. Although, we were cautioned not to “pigeon-hole” people into a certain leadership style category, it was difficult not to recognize the traits of people I know at work, in SPJ and other organizations. But, that knowledge will be helpful when communicating with different people.

That afternoon we spent time brainstorming about programs, fundraisers and membership recruitment and retention. Our President John Huotari and Membership Chairman John Becker were mentioned for their successful membership recruitment techniques.

We ended our classes in time to watch the heart-breaking Belmont Stakes.

SPJ President Clint Brewer was the guest speaker at our dinner Saturday night. He and other SPJ officers spent time answering questions from the crowd. Following dinner, my roommate and I spent the evening walking along the canal in downtown Indianapolis. It is an amazing example of downtown revitalization with apartments, restaurants, museums and historical exhibits along the walk. You can even ride in a gondola along the canal.

Before departing Sunday morning, we spent some more time sharing ideas and discussing issues that chapters face.

One common issue that many of the chapters have is that a core group of people ends up doing a lot of the work, which leads to burn out. In the coming year we hope to get more of our members involved in planning and producing our programs and events. This is your chapter, so let us know if you have ideas about ways the chapter can better serve you.

While at the Leadership Institute I met a lot of nice people with the common goal of making our chapters better and serving our fellow journalists. I returned home with new ideas for programs and fundraisers and hope you will be a part of them.


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