By Blair Drake, MOAA Contributing Editor
Nearly 120 MOAA council and chapter leaders and their spouses from six states came together in Hershey, Pa., Sept. 6-7 for the Northeast Region Council and Chapter Leadership Workshop. The workshop — the largest this year — provided council and chapter presidents, membership chairs, legislative liaisons, and surviving spouse liaisons training specific to their leadership roles as well as updates about national MOAA.
The workshop began Friday afternoon with a welcome from MOAA President and CEO Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, USAF (Ret). Atkins emphasized the importance and strength of the council and chapter system when it comes to the association’s advocacy efforts, saying that “MOAA councils and chapters are what open the door for us” on Capitol Hill.
Capt. Jim Carman, USN (Ret), vice president for Council/Chapter and Member Support, provided an overview of national MOAA’s efforts, priorities, and challenges, highlighting how the association keeps members informed; products, services, and resources available to members; and details about the MOAA Scholarship Fund and the MOAA Foundation, including the foundation’s Community Outreach Grant program.
Attendees also learned about national MOAA’s current marketing campaigns, changes to the membership dues structure, and partner resources available to councils and chapters from Kathy Partain, vice president for Membership and Marketing.
Anne Hartline, of MOAA’s Surviving Spouse Advisory Committee, gave an update about the role of surviving spouses in the association and in councils and chapters. She offered to attendees tips for engaging and encouraging surviving spouses in their councils and chapters and discussed legislative issues affecting the community, including the elimination of the Survivor Benefit Plan-Dependency and Indemnity Compensation offset, also known as the widows tax.
[RELATED VIDEO: MOAA President Calls for End to Widows Tax]
Closing Friday’s opening session, Maj. Gen. Joe Lynch, USAF (Ret), MOAA general counsel, discussed chapter incorporation and liability insurance as well as the 2020 board of directors’ election.
That evening, council and chapter leaders and their spouses and MOAA staff gathered for a dinner, which included a welcome and remarks from Lt. Col. Walter Smiley, USA (Ret), who serves on the Council and Chapter Affairs Committee of MOAA’s board of directors.
The workshop divided into three breakout sessions the next day: chapter management training, legislative training, and surviving spouse training. These sessions gave leaders the opportunity for role-specific guidance in smaller groups that provided more time for discussion and sharing of challenges and best practices.
[RELATED: More Council and Chapter Resources]
All attendees then reconvened for a marketing training session — new to the regional workshop events. Lead by Amy Silvester of national MOAA’s Membership and Marketing team, the training taught leaders new skills and tools for talking to potential MOAA members. Chapter leaders then had the opportunity to practice these recruiting conversations with one another.
All attendees received a workbook that included presentations from each session of the seminar as well as other tips, resources, and contact information.
The final regional leadership workshop for 2019 will be held Nov. 15-16 in Austin, Texas, for council and chapter leaders in the Southwest Region.