This is my last message to everyone as President of OPA. This truly has been an enjoyable and educational year for me. I believe I have brought some of who I am to this leadership position, while at the same time I have grown in many ways through my service in this role. Interestingly, one of the last major events I supported during my year was our Leadership Forum, which took place last month. OPA’s Leadership Forum started a few years ago and has been held annually since its inception. The purpose of the event is to encourage members to step up to leadership positions within the association. It takes a number of individuals functioning in key positions to make our association work. OPA’s current structure requires committee chairs, regional representatives and elected officers, all of whom make our Board of Directors. The truth is we often struggle in identifying individuals who are willing and able to occupy these roles. The Leadership Forum exists to help the association encourage and develop individuals for these crucial positions.
This year’s forum included an address from Jamie Richardson, Vice President for White Castle, as well as discussion from past OPA leaders. Many of the participants were able learn more about the requirements and advantages of OPA leadership, as well as learn more about how to develop their own leadership potential. During my years of discussing this topic with many psychologists, I have learned there are common concerns which prevent many from moving forward in this area. Many of the statements I hear center on common themes: “I don’t really have the time,” “I don’t understand enough about the association to be in leadership,” or “I’m not sure I have the qualities that are right for leadership.” Participants in the forum were able get more information and understanding which addressed these concerns. Most importantly, they were able to hear from successful leaders from the past, each of whom shared these concerns at the beginning of their OPA experience, and were surprised to find that the barriers were not as real as they imagined.
From my perspective, I can easily say that my experience of working as an OPA leader has been a very positive, that at the beginning I shared many of these same concerns, and that I was able to move past them more easily than I originally thought. I encourage anyone who has even a spark of interest in being more active in our association to have a conversation with a board member, consider attending the Leadership Forum next year, or even contact me directly. Thanks so much for the support I have felt from so many of you during this year and I look forward to hearing from you.