Meet VIADA's New Executive Director

Hello From Your New Executive Director!

I'm excited to be here and look forward to meeting many, if not all, of you at some point throughout the coming year. March 1st was my first official day in the office and I've begun to get to know the staff and your current programs. I've already gotten feedback from staff about some recommended changes and you may see some I've already begun to make. As I continue to learn more about your organization, and get input from everyone involved, my intention is to streamline some areas as much as possible to save valuable monetary and staff resources as well as improve and/or introduce new technology that both members and staff can use.

Please allow me to share a brief snapshot of my professional background: I received my marketing degree from VCU and have also earned the professional designation of Certified Association Executive (CAE) through the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). My association leadership experience includes having served as the President of the Virginia Society of Association Executives (VSAE) where I have also participated on various committees. I also was elected President of the State Societies Executives Council (SSEC) for the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) and was honored by being the first SSEC President to have a vote on the NSPE Executive Committee. Last year, I was elected to serve on my homeowners' association board where I was Secretary, the newsletter Editor, and the backup webmaster!

My association management experience began in 1989 when I was hired by the Homebuilders Assn of Virginia on a contract basis to update their computer system and legislative information important to the association. While completing that task, I was approached by the outgoing Executive Director for the VA Society of Professional Engineers (VSPE) who suggested I apply for her position - which I did and was hired full time in 1990. In 2007, I created my own association management company in order to broaden my client base. VSPE and the VSPE Educational Fund continued to be my anchor clients and I worked on projects with several other organizations as well - twice with the Mariners Museum; once with the Virginia Museum Association; three times with the VA Association for Non-profit Homes for the Aging; and for the Southside Virginia Association of REALTORS® for almost a year providing financial management services and then as their CEO.

Throughout my tenure as an association CEO and in owning my own association management company, I've been exposed to and have had to learn various software programs in order to provide the services that my association clients needed. I've worked with a website designer who created the shell and I provided the copy for three websites; used Constant Contact to deliver eye-catching and timely email announcements; used QuickBooks and Paypal for financial management and online credit card payments; and used RegOnLine to create registration systems for conferences just to name a few. If it wasn't already obvious, I am a process and detail-oriented individual who appreciates good organization.

Communication - honest and forthright - are also very important to me. My door is always open and my cell phone is always on. If you have an observation or a fabulous idea for the association, PLEASE do not hesitate contacting me. You are members because you believe in what the Association stands for - its mission and goals. It takes dedicated and active members for an Association to be successful. And it really does take 'a member to get a member' because you truly know the "ins and outs" of your business and can give practical advice to those who want to emulate you.

So, what do I need from each of you? To begin with - your continued passion for this organization along with your patience. I need to learn how things have been done and what is already in the planning stages. Understanding how everything interconnects is very important to know before I can confidently and successfully accomplish the Board's objectives and goals. Secondly, in order to gain that knowledge in order to be successful, I need time in the office with staff to unify us as a new team and get ready to accomplish great things for this organization. Being on the road and meeting everyone IS also extremely important and I will certainly make it a priority in the near future.

Your continued support for the association - whether that is renewing your membership, recruiting a new member, working on a project or just answering the many questions I'll be asking - will be very much appreciated. I firmly believe we can be successful in any endeavour if everyone works cooperatively together. Together, we all can make a difference.

Thank you for this opportunity! It will be an honor to work with each and every one of you.

Leigh
(pronounced Lee)
O: 757-464-3460 / C: 804-337-4601
leigh@viada.org

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