My Experience as President of the Reflexology Association of America.
I have been asked to share with you my years as President of the Reflexology Association of America, which began in June 1997 and ended after a second term in June 1999. When I was first voted in as a board member in 1996, I never dreamed of the adventure on which I would be embarking. There is so much to be done with a fledgling organization and I was not sure I was up to it. Then when I was voted on as President in 1997, I saw that I was being given an opportunity to challenge myself even further by serving in this position. It was not one I took on lightly, in fact, I was scared to death! But with the help and the encouragement of my fellow board members, I decided to ‘go for it!’. It was a decision I will never regret.
Being a totally voluntary organization means not often is there a lot of time to give. But with the projects that we took on, the Board and other volunteers were eager to tackle whatever was given to them. My first volunteer effort when I joined the organization was to create our Code of Ethics brochure (did you know that RAA’s Code of Ethics were taken from the Code of Ethics we did for The Reflexology Association of California?) letterheads and envelopes, membership/renewal applications and brochures. Another bit of trivia ….the RAA logo was developed by Vaughn Smith, NV after a contest we ran. During this time, the name of the newsletter was also voted on and approved.
One of my first projects as a new President was to oversee the work of the Conference Committee who was planning our next conference in Orlando, FL in 1998. Muff Warren and Nancy Byers, as Co-chairs, Phoebe Forbes, Dave Jenkins (your second President), Dwight Byers, Virginia Hoover and countless other volunteers who gave their time and money in the effort made sure we had a rousing success. Muff did such an outstanding job that we ended up making money on the conference!!
During that time, we also created our mission statement. “RAA’s commitment to unify all Reflexologists for the Recognition, Excellence and Professional strength of Reflexology“ ,
One of our last projects was to pick the location for our next conference, held May 2000, which turned out to be San Diego, my hometown. Muff and I co-chaired that event with Maggie Davis, RAA’s President and Conference Chair.
Our other big project was to create RAA’s own website. This was the brainchild of Board member Miriam Turner, CA. She took the idea and ran with it, even though she was completely computer illiterate! The job she did was fantastic. Sharon Nimblett, another volunteer, spent hours of her time transcribing the volumes of information we gave her that was to appear on the site. After 4 months of being online, we had 78 members from 29 states listed in our ‘Practitioner’s Referral’ page and our most popular page was the ‘Ask Reflexology Rex’. I spent countless hours answering questions about Reflexology from people from all over the world! I was not the only one answering the questions- at times I had help from Dwight Byers, FL and past President, Dave Jenkins, PA.
Membership was always at the top of our ‘To Do’ list. Through the hard work of Laura Norman, NY, and Paul Bailey, OH, our membership went from 79 members in June of 1997 to almost 250 by the time I left office. It is not easy to get people to understand the need to belong to their trade organization. I think most Reflexologists are by nature, loners, since we are all entrepreneurs to some extent. But without a voice in our profession, we stand to lose what ground we have won over the years in developing this incredible profession into something of which we can be proud. The only other project I wanted to see done that was completed by another board was changing RAA from an organization of reflexologists back to an organization of organizations. I still think membership could grow with this style if only there were some changes in the structure of how it is done. But that is up to future boards to figure out.
During this time there was a lot of day-to-day, behind the scenes work going on. One of my other ’jobs’ was to keep the membership rolls on the computer up to date as new members joined and others renewed. I would receive the applications from Sharon Belsher, NV, who took care of RAA’s P.O. box mailing address in Las Vegas. Then I would determine the member’s ID number and send the checks to our Treasurer, Paul Bailey, OH. Both Muff Warren, CA and Maggie Davis, CA at different times would then send out the certificates, ID cards and membership information packets. Between us we would keep track of the files and make sure we didn’t lose anyone in the shuffle. It was great having the check and balance of all of us keeping track.
During this time Ted Stansbury, AR found the liability insurance that we then offered to the members.
I also would receive letters and emails which I had to answer. I did phone interviews and wrote articles. It seemed there was always a ‘fire’ somewhere that needed attention. I was a clearing house of information about Reflexology. Fortunately, I felt up to the task because of my background of working for Reflexology’s original school. I had answers most do not have access to. Having also been in the field since the 70’s, I have been involved with and have seen much that has gone on in our “reflexology world”. The job of President is not easy and is NOT a part time job. But I would not have traded the experience for anything.
When I look back on the fear I felt when I agreed to do the job, one of the memories I go back to, was the first time I ever joined an organization at the age of 29. I was a member for only a short time when I was asked if I would run for that board. I was astounded and flattered that anyone would want me on their board. I thought about it for days and decided to do it……what would be the worst thing that would happen? So I ran and was voted in! I was amazed and nervous…..I didn’t think I had anything to contribute, but I soon found out that I did. The woman who asked me to run mentored me and through her I found I DID have value and had something to contribute. Well, I felt the same way when I was asked to do the President’s job for RAA……could I do it? Would I accomplish anything? My motto for years has been “So what– do it anyway!” If you don’t try — you lose. So I did and out of that experience I gained confidence in myself and made some life-long friends with whom I still keep in touch. Just joining an organization is not enough; to really grow and stretch, volunteering and then being part of something bigger is so worthwhile.
I give thanks to all the organizations with whom I have been involved for giving me the space to grow and allowing me a voice in my future.