I began this blog by referring to a long range strategic plan for 2007-2027. The plan was very appropriate and forward thinking in 2007. Now, we need to be able to adapt quickly to change and develop an action plan that allows us to be more fluid in response to a rapidly changing world. Looking back at the plan in comparison with where we are today, you will see that the major areas of focus are basically the same. The strategic planning committee chose these six areas of focus:
I. Collegiate Chapter Growth and Retention
II. Education and Training
IV. Financial Stability and Capability
V. Lifetime Involvement
VI. Marketing and Communications
I think we can all agree that these areas are still important. The goals that the Grand Council members set for ourselves to accomplish during this biennium fit into these categories as well. The first goal was Volunteer Training. We piloted a chapter advisor track at the Northeast Officer Leadership Training (OLT) in January 2017 and will offer this training at each regional OLT in 2018. We have updated the volunteer form to include the StrengthsFinder information and are working on updating volunteer job descriptions to include not just the general duties of the position but the amount of time required on a weekly or monthly basis, as well as an expected length of time commitment for the position. We would like to then develop a clear process for review and placement as well as annual 360-degree evaluation. We are developing training webinars for volunteers, beginning with general topics and progressing to more position specific information. These items address goals from that 2007 plan in several areas. Although we focused on what we could accomplish this biennium, the work we are doing still fits into this 20-year-plan.
We have looked at various methods to improve collaboration/communication between our growing staff and Grand Council. We will all be learning to use a new communication and scheduling tool called Igloo over the summer. We chose this platform after consulting with the other NPC groups, as this was the one they were most satisfied with. In order for governance to function properly, there needs to be constant communication between the strategic planning and the executing. The staff needs to be aware of the strategic vision of Grand Council and Grand Council needs to be aware of the day-to-day work that is happening to make that strategic vision a reality.
The Grand Council is examining many of the programs and processes we have in place to determine what services we can provide to our members using volunteers and staff we already have, and what we would like to provide by contracting to an outside company who can specialize in that area. Of course, a large part of this is budgeting. We are examining all of our expenses and have made great improvements in our ability to accurately forecast what we will spend over the course of a year. As we are looking in detail at where money is being spent we have been able to implement several cost saving measures and use our money more wisely. I see a lot of parallels in what I learned owning a franchise for five years and being National President. Theta Phi Alpha is a business, and we have to think of it in that way in order to be successful.
National Office space is also a large topic of consideration. This goes back further than the 2007 strategic plan, although in this plan under infrastructure a sub-point was “implement a plan to provide sufficient office space for operations and growth.” One of the things Shane McGoey, Executive Director, has done is to negotiate with the landlord and other tenants in the building to secure more space for us, as well as to more efficiently use the space we have. However, if you have ever visited our National Office, you know it is not the most conducive arrangement. We have looked for other suitable office space in the area for many years, and have not come up with many options. One issue is that we would pay considerably more rent anywhere else we go, but this is a reality that we need to prepare for. We have considered a capital campaign to purchase or lease long-term, rather than rent property, but there are costs associated with owning commercial real estate that may offset the benefits. We have talked about this issue for over 20 years and have come to the point that we really need to develop a plan with a clear timeline to address this need.
In the end, Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring. Theta Phi Alpha has endured for 105 years. We have persevered and survived when many thought we wouldn’t or couldn’t. We have grown despite challenges and setbacks. We are living in an exciting time for Theta Phi Alpha, the possibilities are endless, and we are in a position to take advantage of them. The Grand Council’s role in Theta Phi Alpha has not changed. Grand Council has always set the direction of the Fraternity, and we are now in a position to have professional staff to support and help develop our volunteers who work with our members. Governance is a process – it doesn’t happen overnight. Many other NPC groups have been transitioning to this for anywhere from seven to 13 years. We will continue to develop our staff model, continually evaluate our volunteer structure, and improve our volunteer training to truly develop our volunteers’ leadership skills. We want to ensure qualified candidates for higher level positions, including Grand Council, in the future. Without you, our members, who have given their time, talents, and treasure to Theta Phi Alpha over the years, we would have long ago ceased to exist. The transition to governance is a positive development for our future as an organization.