Once a Leader, Always a Leader for Past Chairs of PCMA Boards

Author: Cristi Kempf       

Always a Leader

PCMA CEO Sherrif Karamat speaks at the Chairmen’s Reception during Convening Leaders 2019. Nearly 20 former PCMA and PCMA Foundation Board chairs — part of the Always a Leader program — will attend the event during Convening Leaders 2020 in San Francisco. (Jacob Slaton Photography)

PCMA’s Always a Leader program — which aims to keep past chairs of the PCMA and PCMA Foundation boards engaged and connected — is completing its first year and ramping up for Convening Leaders 2020, with nearly 20 former chairs expected at the event in San Francisco, according to Katie Yandell, PCMA’s director of corporate communications.

Former chairs will join the current boards at the Joint Board reception on Jan. 4, attend the Chairmen’s Reception on Jan. 6, and participate in Next Up, an invite-only mentoring program, on Jan. 7, where they will connect with members of the 2020 Class of 20 in Their Twenties and members of the Legacy Society, a program benefiting the PCMA Foundation.

Collaboration with and informal mentoring of the members of the 20 in Their Twenties class is one aspect of the Always a Leader program. Past chairs also receive a bimonthly report containing news of PCMA and the wider events industry and they are kept in mind for speaking opportunities as a way of leveraging their knowledge, Yandell said.

Kent Allaway

With this initiative, Yandell said, “we are showing that we haven’t forgotten about everyone who has led us in the past. These are all volunteer leaders. So it’s making sure we say, ‘You were once a leader of our organization and we will always consider you a leader.’”

Kent Allaway, CEM, CMP, vice president of meetings and trade shows for the Produce Marketing Association, led the PCMA Board in 2012 and is among the past chairs active in the program.

“How to keep past leaders engaged is something that many associations struggle with,” Allaway said. “Years of volunteering can take a toll on people, as well as their full-time jobs, and not all will want to stay involved.

“Establishing a core group of past leaders that do want to continue to contribute takes courage on the part of the organization and I am glad PCMA has done that. I think the biggest challenge is to figure out what an organization wants from that group.”

“Having risen through the BOD structure,” Allaway added, “it can be a bit of a letdown when your service is over, and leave you feeling a little lost. For those of us that still want to be connected to the organization in a meaningful way, the Always a Leader program is an opportunity to stay engaged and continue to provide some benefit to the membership.”

Cristi Kempf is executive editor at Convene.