MASFAP Leadership Development Program Cohort

A visit with the MASFAP Leadership Development Program Cohort or Ramblings on Why I love my Professional Association By Gena Boling

On Friday, I attended the first half of the meeting of the 2015 Leadership Development Program cohort. The group has been meeting throughout the year in various locations around the state, and this past week, they were in Rolla on the campus of East Central College and I decided it was an excellent opportunity to stop in, hear and contribute to the conversation, and see how the program was running along.

The cohort is currently reading John Maxwell’s The 360 Degree Leader, a text designed to prompt discussion about involvement in our association at multiple levels: how to participate and perhaps more so, how to generate involvement in our members and how to move those involved members into positions of leadership.

I happened in on discussion lead by Dan Dick, paired up with Tony Georges as his mentor, which delved into topics such as networking, relying on relationships within the profession as a catalyst to searching out information and assistance when dealing with complicated situations, and ways to break into what can be seen as a guarded community of association governors – exactly what this program was designed to do.

I have, very recently and in a short amount of time, experienced the entry-level nerves of association involvement, the intrigue and curiosity which follows the excitement and engagement of your first conference, initial eager agreement to join a committee, excitement of agreeing to lead projects for committees, the honor of being asked to chair a committee, the general feeling of nervousness being nominated for an office, the honor and humility that comes along with being elected for the office. All of this over the course of five years.

And my life has literally changed over the course of five years.

I was reminded of this during the meeting on Friday – prior to the day’s discussion we were asked to submit answers to a “getting to know you” survey. One question – what is something about yourself others may not know or find hard to believe – or something to that effect. I responded that I struggle with a lack of confidence and self-esteem. But then, during our meeting when this came up, I thought – but do I? I know I did five years ago but do I now? I don’t think so!

This association has provided me with numerous opportunities to practice and strengthen my professional skills. I have met with legislators, traveled to other states representing our association, developed professional relationships with other state leaders from across the country, and led both small group and large discussions. Lack of confidence – no! These are things I look forward to, activities I can’t wait to participate in because I feel like I have something to contribute! Maybe it wasn’t really confidence or self-esteem to begin with, maybe it was just a fear of rejection, either of me or my ideas – I’d say that probably sounds more likely.

But here’s the thing – we are members of an association made up of people just like us – we all do the same job, which means despite our differences, we’re all a little bit the same, and that translates to a pretty accepting group of folks. So even if my ideas aren’t necessarily the best, over the past five years I’ve learned that the people in our association still want to hear it because the governance of this association equates to us working toward accomplishing the same goal – providing opportunities for our members to learn and grow in our professional because ultimately that leads to improved service to those we work with because we believe our role in the pursuit of higher education is a significant one.

Our committee chairs, our elected officers, our volunteers, our members in attendance – we’re all here to support each other toward the accomplishment of this goal. And if you want to jump in and help out, but there’s something holding you back, think about how to take that thing that’s holding you back and make it a focus of your involvement with MASFAP – for me it was a personal, internal fear. For you, maybe it’s…….poor penmanship (I don’t know). Whatever it is, find a way to strengthen it while strengthening our association. We’ll all be better for it!

I left the MASFAP Leadership Development Program meeting to run over to see my son’s summer camp showcase, take him to his summer care day program, and then head back to work to package incoming and returning students. A typical day for an aid administrator!

Following work, I went home to text my MASFAP social mentor, to thank him for forcing me into awkward social conversations with members of the state and regional association which have led to friendships, answered work questions, and tons of laughs.



kelsea on July 13, 2015 at 10:40 am said:
Gena, your natural friendliness and enthusiasm has got any lack of confidence or self-esteem beat:) I remember sitting with you at your first MASFAP conference and going up to meet Justin Draeger after his session. I knew that you were an asset to MASFAP and the financial aid community. Thank you for your service and leadership!!!

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