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by Donna Tschiffely

Have you ever wondered how the word “board” came to be defined as “a committee having supervisory powers?”  Ok, here is a quick etymology lesson…Old English definition, board is a plank, flat surface (think table); the meaning then evolved to mean “food” – in this case the table upon which the food is laid.  Similarly the board of directors is the group of people who sit around the “board” (table).

So you could possibly reason that board members sit around a table, eat and supervise others!  Well, to use today’s terminology…NO WAY!

The members of the DMAW board are a very committed, passionate group of professional men and women who feel it is important to give back to the industry that made them successful – most often doing so by using resources available to them through their connections or position.

Every trade organization must have a board of directors overseeing its governance and a truly effective board of directors has a clear understanding of its roles and responsibilities.  The DMAW board members understand that their primary role is to serve the membership.  Now, you probably hear that regularly, but what does it really mean to you, the member; how do the board members serve you.

It means that each board member must commit to chair or co-chair a board committee such as programs, membership, volunteers, marketing, awards (e.g., such as MAXIs and our leadership awards), social media and others.  The chair of each activity must then go about the process of effectively working their specific area.  For example, the program chair (or co-chairs) is responsible for creating and developing educational programs and networking events, that help you – the member – grow both professionally and personally.

Our social media chair oversees this blog, the tweets that go out on behalf of the organization and our LinkedIn group – making sure the information put out there is relevant to you.  Our marketing chair helps get the word out to our members the events taking place.  Our membership chair ensures the membership stays strong and vibrant and if we lose someone, we work at seeing what we can do to win the individual back.

There is not one slacker on the DMAW Board!  The third Thursday of every month, the board members meet and report on their efforts and in between the monthly meetings are a variety of conference calls and other smaller meetings.  Of course, all board activities are overseen by the president of the organization.

What makes an exceptional board member?  Well, you have been given a small taste of how it takes more than just a commitment to an organization’s mission to become an exceptional board member. An individual needs to be so passionate about the mission that he or she is eager to use connections, resources, and professional skills to enrich the organization – and the only way to enrich the organization is to enrich each individual member.  That’s what it means when we say, the board serves you.

We’ll explore more specifics about serving on the DMAW board in future editions of this blog. In the meantime, if you would like to one day serve on the board, please contact me to discuss the possibilities.

And me, well, I’m the executive director of the DMAW and I have the privilege of working for the DMAW board and you, its members.

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Donna Tschiffely is Owner of Conference Incorporated and is also the Executive Director of The Direct Marketing Association of Washington (DMAW). Donna has over 36 years experience in the strategic development and execution of conventions, trade shows and special events.

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