Did you know that much of the work done on behalf of the Council for Exceptional Children is done by member volunteers? And here at CEC, no one understands that better than our Leadership Development Committee (LDC).
To learn more about CEC leadership and the various ways our members are making a difference in the special education community, we recently chatted with LDC Chair, CEC Past President Mikki Garcia. The LDC is charged with identifying, nurturing, and developing potential and skills in emerging leaders. Learn about the opportunities and challenges for the LDC, as well as her advice to CEC members about becoming a leader in our community.
What is the top priority for the committee?
As we near the close of our second year in existence, the LDC has made remarkable strides in recruiting and identifying new leaders for our organization. As I think back, it has been a whirlwind of activity that has allowed us to learn and grow as a committee.
I am grateful for the team of committed individuals who have given of their time and talents to move the work forward. At each step, we have reflected on the outcomes of our activities to ensure that we’re finding the most well-qualified and best-fitting candidates and bringing a diversity of perspectives to the work of advancing CEC’s mission.
We continue to look at ways to discern the knowledge, skills, and abilities that are needed on the Board of Directors and to ensure that it is diverse in every way possible. We maintain communication with the Board to understand their needs and then use that information to assist in identification and recruitment.
As a committee, we see opportunities to collaborate with CEC’s state or provincial units and special interest divisions to identify potential future leaders. We also see opportunities to mentor and develop individuals who strive to fill these important roles in our organization. Finally, we see opportunities to modify our strategies for identifying the future leaders of our organization. However, the work has not been without its challenges.
While the LDC works extremely hard to develop a well-qualified slate of candidates, it is up to the membership to elect those who will be our future Board members. At the same time, this does not necessarily ensure that the needs of the Board related to diversity, knowledge, skills, and abilities are being met. We struggle with this challenge and we are actively seeking a solution. While we, as members of the committee, reach out to many, we can only reach out so far. We need the help of units and divisions to identify the many talented individuals that have the potential to serve.
If you were offering advice to CEC members about becoming a leader in our association, what would that advice be?
Being a leader in our association is one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in my professional career. I never took lightly the awesome responsibility of leading our organization.
I would encourage those who aspire to be leaders to seek opportunities in their local or student chapter, their unit, and their divisions. They have so many opportunities and need volunteers. Everyone – everyone – has something to offer.
I cannot emphasize enough the benefits of this type of service: the opportunity to give back to your profession, the opportunity to help make important decisions that impact our profession, and the opportunity to grow as a leader. I feel privileged to chair this important committee that impacts the future direction of CEC!
Interested in getting involved with CEC? Check out our current volunteer opportunities, which includes the Board of Directors.