Introducing DEAR OWHE

Dear OWHE Members,

I am proud to present a new blog topic for the OWHE blog! Dear OWHE is an opportunity for OWHE members to write to the Board of Directors to hear about their thoughts on different topics and issues in higher education and the world. We’re starting with some insight from the OWHE Board Members who departed the board this May. We hope you enjoy reading about their experiences! And, we encourage you to write in questions to us by emailing me at education@owhe.org or filling out this anonymous form!

Cheers,

Sharece Bunn, OWHE Director of Education 2017-19

 

Dear OWHE,

I heard that three of the OWHE Board Members were leaving the board this year and I wanted to check in with them about their experience. Here are a few questions I've been itching to ask them before they go! What is like to be on the OWHE Board? What's the best part? And, what is the most challenging? Does it really provide me opportunities to grow? And, what does it feel like to leave the Board? What will you take with you as you move on? And what's on your horizon as you say goodbye to OWHE leadership?

Thanks for your wisdom!

-- Curious and Seeking Wisdom

 

Dear Curious and Seeking Wisdom,

Thanks for your question! Without a doubt, serving on the OWHE Board of Directors has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life! I could probably go on and on talking about all the specific things I’ve loved and learned from OWHE leadership, but I’m going to narrow it down to three main points. Serving on the OWHE Board has: 1) connected me to a meaningful community; 2) increased my tech-savviness; and 3) boosted my confidence.

Before joining the OWHE BOD, I wasn’t much of a social media person. You could count the number of posts I’d personally made on one hand. But as part of my role as Director of Marketing, Records and Outreach, being public-facing and engaging with our members online through social media, along with email and the web, became one of my main responsibilities. Having this super supportive audience helped to show me what truly mattered to me personally along with women from across the state. Though not everything I wrote, posted or shared with the OWHE membership hit the mark, I’m not shy about it anymore. I’ve gotten to correspond with hundreds of amazing women and through this, I better understand the many different needs and interests of professional women and that they are all worth highlighting. Though I’ve never personally met the majority our membership, the connection I feel to all of you is one of the best parts of serving on the BOD.

Similarly, the experience of updating our website, learning Mail Chimp, practicing design skills, creating infographics and learning a variety of social media and other digital platforms have given me tangible skills that I’ve been able to translate into my current job as a teacher trainer and instructional designer. I’ve gained a tremendous amount of practical knowledge by doing and by collaborating with others.

Last, but not least, I have become a more confident woman because I understand my own strengths better. I used to focus on what I couldn’t do and worried that my preference for being behind the scenes was a weakness that prevented me from calling myself a “leader.” Now, I much better understand how a variety of strengths and personalities can contribute to a successful organization, and how leadership comes in a variety of forms. I am proud of my detail-oriented, questioning nature and my preference for written communication over spoken. However, my oral communication skills have improved, too. From participating in live webinars to regular board meetings, I know that a group of awesome women see me as a valuable part of their success and that confidence is a gift that I will carry with me long into the future.

--Alexis Terrell, Outgoing OWHE Director of Marketing, Records, and Outreach

 

This past year has been one of the most exciting times of my life. Being on the OWHE board contributed greatly to my personal and professional development. Every OWHE board member is volunteering their time because they deeply care about the mission of OWHE and women working across the state of Oregon. I can’t think of another organization that I’ve been a part of that’s more inspiring and full of energy. This was definitely the best part about being involved with the board. The most challenging part of my role was wanting to do more in a day than my time and energy allowed! Be warned – once you start working with the OWHE board, you’ll spend your evenings and free time dreaming about OWHE projects!

If you’re looking for an opportunity to brainstorm alongside passionate higher education professionals, implement change, and inspire your colleagues across the state, this is the group to be a part of. You will be stretched, you will have opportunities to step up and lead, and you will connect with so many new people. It’s a bittersweet feeling to leave the board this year, but exciting new opportunities (starting a Doctoral program this summer!) lay ahead for me and require more of my attention. I will never forget the support I received from my board-mates and the collaborations I was able to be a part of through OWHE projects and initiatives. As I leave my role as Director of Engagement, I hope to stay connected and support OWHE as a volunteer, institutional rep, and conference attendee. If you see me at future OWHE events, please come say hi! I’d love to hear about your personal and professional journey!

Sincerely,

--Annie Popoff, Outgoing OWHE Director of Engagement

 

“The best way to find yourself is in service to others” – Mahatma Gandhi

The best part of being on the OWHE board for me was that it was both an opportunity to serve a community of amazing and inspiring peers while at the same time being able to grow and learn in my own professional and leadership skills. I learned so much about myself and really developed a stronger sense of my own identity and place in the broader Higher Education world. While I’ve served on boards in the past and done a lot of volunteer work as part of a team or organization, the ability to do work with a team of emerging leaders on something we were all passionate about and driven to see improve was new for me. The experience of being on the board also had positive spillover to other parts of my professional development – and confidence. I learned more about running meetings, having difficult conversations, professional candor, supporting the development of others, how to coach and support my peers on their journeys, how to prioritize, strategic planning, and how to help a group of once strangers come together and accomplish something as a team. It feels bittersweet to leave my role in OWHE, but it feels like the right time to hand things off to the next group of leaders who can take our efforts to the next level in ways that I couldn’t. I love the direction that OWHE is headed and am proud of my role in shaping it from where we were three years ago to the possibilities that exist today. I am very much looking forward to continuing to be involved in OWHE and feel that my time on the board provides me with more insight into how I can be a good citizen in the general membership. I will continue to look for ways and offer my unique skills, encourage celebration, and continue to give back and share my time with both the organization and the members – and I encourage you to do the same! Step-up, own your strengths, and push your boundaries. OWHE is a great place to stretch your wings, find yourself, and to serve a community that will always have your back.

All the best, 

--Chrysanthemum (Mum) Hayes, Outgoing Chair of the OWHE Board

 

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