On Saturday, June 19th, the Past Presidents Council of Cheyney University National Alumni Association sponsored a Leadership Retreat for approximately 40 participants. Past presidents present at the Retreat were, Elizabeth Berry Holmes, Clarence Williams, Barbara Daniel Cox, Darrell Henderson, James Washington, and Paul Turner. The Retreat was held from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. with a continental breakfast and lunch provided for the participants.
The two psychologists who facilitated the event were Dr. J. Otis Smith of Stand By Systems, II, Inc. who is also Professor Emeritus of the Psychology Department of Cheyney University and Dr. Thomas A. Gordon of Thomas A. Gordon and Associates.
Prior to the day of the event, participants were asked to respond to the following questions.
- “What is the new skill or new person I can bring into active participation in the alumni association?”
- “What uniqueness do I bring?” and
- “What, specifically, does Cheyney University National Alumni Association (CUNAA) need most?”
Some of the answers were Strategic Planning, communication and team building skills, bringing an outside perspective, a corporate mentality, CUNAA needs to have a sense of urgency and the need for other alumni to get on board and support the efforts of the national alumni
The process was very interactive; and it was pointed out that as leaders, we should be mindful of two major ideas which were stated in the form of acronyms.
The first one is “PACA” (Positive Attitude & CerebralEnergy) which means that in a leadership role, each individual must pay close attention to the energy that “people” bring to the table.
The second acronym “SSS” (Serving Sustainable Success) identifies what a leader should represent to the organization. Other significant information which the facilitators shared was that “Not one person is the keeper of what is right,” and it is crucial that we try to settle differences in the organization by asking poignant questions rather than attacking the individual or the idea.
We were cautioned to avoid the 4 Ds (Delay, distraction, distortion and drift to low performance) and to be mindful of the 4 Vs (Voice, Vision, Victory and the Virus that can attack us and prevent our voices from coming together). We were encouraged to not allow people to sit and say nothing during meetings.
Other topics discussed included suggestions as to how to have greater diversity of participation by making use of the electronic technology that is available today.
Another important topic of discussion was the first draft of the CUNAA Policies and Procedures Manual which was shared with the group. This manual addresses the methods by which CUNAA, local chapters and affiliates will carry out the constitution and by-laws.
Three work groups spent time identifying strategies to: improve relationship with the President of the university; integrating young and older alumni; and recruitment and retention. Solutions included each older alum mentoring a younger alum; hosting a round-up of all alum; establish a Global Campaign to Attract membership; the president’s office (not the individual or personality)
needs to know what alumni are doing,and the relationship needs to be ongoing-not just doing crisis.
As the eight hour retreat came to a close, comments such as “That was awesome,” “The Retreat was energizing,” “It was well worth it!” were expressed by the participants.
There was a post-retreat statement that we were asked to complete “here’s what I’m going to start, stop or continue to do” . Responses included, but were not limited to:
- I am going to continue to encourage Cheyney Alum to refrain from the habitual temptation to always criticize and talk negatively about what’s wrong with Cheyney, its administration, alumni, and students, and learn and report more on the positive.
AKA –The 11th Commandment, “Thou Shalt Always Speak Positively About Thy Cheyney”
- I will continue to keep on task when I’m part of a group and work on effectively following through on tasks and assignments. I will be more sensitive to those around me and make an effort to keep my energy and the atmosphere in the group positive and non-hurtful.
- I am going to slow down and listen more actively and I am not going to allow another “Carolyn Moment”.
We are eternally grateful to Dr. Smith & Dr. Gordon for guiding us through this process of better understanding leadership as a verb and how to work together more effectively.