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Everyone’s Shoes Can Be Filled

I’ve been part of Rockford, Illinois’ GiGi’s Playhouse board before it was even a board.  Six years ago we were a group of parents, grandparents, and community members sitting around a table who all had one thing in common–a desire to help a loved one with Down syndrome.

Looking back, it seems much longer than six years ago.  I recently finished a three-year stint as board president, having followed in the footsteps of my amazing predecessor, Penny Wirtjes. During my tenure, we completed a strategic plan for the playhouse, recruited half of our current board members, added staff, completed a $100,000 capital campaign and opened GiGi University at our location.  I’m amazed at what our dedicated staff and board members have accomplished!

Similar to running a business, running a board requires one to find a middle ground between micromanaging and wholeheartedly trusting others will get the job done. When you’re working with both volunteers and paid staff, there’s a lot of grey area on responsibility verses commitment.   You need to be part cheerleader, part boss and part volunteer.

The first step is to have a plan, work the plan, but be flexible enough to modify the plan, if needed.  We completed a strategic plan for our playhouse three years ago and updated it a year ago.  It drives our work and our staff’s goals.

The second step is to have the right people sitting around the table.  Connectors. Leaders. Doers. Then step out of the way and let them run!  Check their pace, check the direction, occasionally look back to see where you’ve been but most importantly, look forward to search for who is the right one to fill your own shoes when your time as board president has run its course.

Enjoy the ride!

Pam Maher, Past Board President, Rockford


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