By Gary DePaul, CPT, PhD

Since 2011, I have asked chapter leaders to share their stories, techniques, and experiences in the “Chapter Corner.” To end the year, I wanted to give voice to a different group: ISPI presidents. I asked several to explain in their own words the value of ISPI chapters. Here are their responses listed in no particular order. However, I do note that Mary Ellen, our current ISPI President, has the concluding words.

Please join me in thanking not only these contributors for this month’s column but all our ISPI Presidents for their stewardship, support for chapters, and sincere care for helping others in our profession.

Margo Murray, CPT, MBA, C-EI

ISPI President (1986-1987)

MurrayM-KoreaPeople have affiliation needs. The increasing use of virtual meetings, social media, and tele-working cause us to feel isolated. While each of those vehicles provides some efficiency, they are not always effective means of communication.

An ISPI chapter can provide a professional community for exchange of ideas, trying out innovative models, and performance improvement strategies. Limited budgets for meetings and conferences prohibit many people from participation in THE ISPI Performance Improvement Conference. A chapter meeting is usually less costly–sometimes free.

An often-overlooked benefit of chapters is the experience of developing leadership skills in a low-risk position. I believe any candidate for ISPI global office would be better qualified having demonstrated skill and experience from chapter leadership.

The Value of ISPI Chapters

Roger M. Addison, CPT

ISPI President (1992-1993)

Like many ISPI members, I have found the chapter experience of great value. Over the years, my active chapter participation has provided the essential foundation for networking, learning, sharing, and growing. Chapter involvement enabled me to expand meaningfully the basic principles and standards of performance improvement:

  • Focus on results
  • Take a systemic view
  • Add value
  • Develop partnerships (RSVP)

Find a home chapter, either local or virtual, and join! Get involved in a chapter today and launch the many benefits of the ISPI experience.

Why I Think Chapters Are Important

Judith Hale, CPT, PhD

Former president of the Chicago ISPI Chapter

ISPI President (2011-2012 and 2001-2002)

Judith Hale HeadshotChapters offer two benefits not easily provided by the national organization or employers. The first is the opportunity to hone your skills in three areas:

1. The work of building others’ capacity by hearing what your peers are doing
2. Project management by helping organize and produce local programs and communications
3. Collaboration and negotiation by working with sponsors and team members

The second benefit is chapters provide an opportunity for you to test, refine, and build your own brand to achieve name recognition. Participating in chapter meetings and activities allows you a safe arena to promote yourself as a skilled practitioner and team player. This latter point can help you advance your career and better weather job uncertainties.

Certainly, this is how I benefited from my membership and volunteering with the Chicago Chapter. I have learned techniques that have served my clients well. My clients were also able to observe me present, collaborate, and maneuver personal and political challenges.

Jim Hill, CEO, Proofpoint Systems

ISPI President (2002-2003)

Jim Hill PhotoChapters are where almost every ISPI member gets his or her start. And, when you hear people say, “ISPI is my professional home,” they really mean it!

A chapter is a great place to build a professional network–colleagues who are easily accessible when the need arises–and the place where one can learn firsthand about performance solutions that actually work. For that reason, many people are often members of multiple chapters at the same time!

My first performance improvement–related presentation was done at the chapter level. I was nervous, as I expected some in the audience to drill me on the scientific underpinning my claims. That happened as anticipated, yet it was very collegial, with many attendees engaging in the dialogue.

That one session led to my presenting at the next international conference, meeting the HPT luminaries of the time, and getting on the track that led to my serving as president in 2002.

ISPI has become a part of my family–to the extent that my wife often accompanies me to the conferences. My daughter even presented at ISPI when she was 13…and she was a huge hit!

Guy W. Wallace, CPT

Co-Founder and Past President (2011) ISPI Charlotte

ISPI President (2003-2004)

WallaceGI value ISPI chapters for the opportunities to both network and learn from other like-minded professionals. As a chapter member since 1979, I found many colleagues, clients, and subcontractors from my participation. My chapter membership led to my first NSPI conference in 1980; and I have only missed four since that first.

I find a lot of value in working on the chapter board and committees where I get to meet others and learn from them. When the chapter programming is good, evidence-based, and practical, I learned the most from that part of the experience.

Chapters are a great place to start sharing what you have learned and your capabilities. My first sharing occurred with committee work with what is now the Michigan chapter in 1979, followed by publications and presentations with the Chicago chapter in 1984, and the co-founding the Charlotte (NC) chapter with Dick Handshaw in 2009.

John Swinney, CPT

ISPI President (2000-2001)

It is difficult for me to think of any significant career-related learning event that was not in some way linked to an ISPI event or contact. My journey with the chapter started at the San Antonio conference in 1987 where I met several other Kansas City area people who were interested in starting a chapter in our area. Working with these folks and helping the chapter grow allowed me to develop an interest in supporting on committees and task forces with the parent organization and eventually led to a four-year position of the ISPI Board of Directors. I have not lived in the KC area since 1996, but still maintain my chapter membership and try to get back for at least one or two meetings or a workshop each year.

Work with the chapter and time on the Board are the professional highlights of my career. I learned so much from so many willing and helpful people.

Lisa Toenniges, CPT

Former Michigan Chapter President

ISPI President (2013-2014)

Lisa Toenniges PhotoBeing an ISPI chapter member, should you be fortunate to have a chapter in your area, is hands-down one of the best things you can do to further your career.

I joined the Michigan Chapter in the 1980s and have attended nearly every local meeting since. Absolutely nothing can beat the face-to-face connections you get with like-minded professionals. You are able to meet potential new employees, discover new business opportunities, and, most important, learn new information on the latest industry trends.

Additionally, a significant value of belonging to and being involved with a chapter is the gateway it provides to the broader Society level. The Michigan Chapter gave me exposure to new learnings and introductions to experts in our field, which led to my involvement with the international Society.

Chapter value goes beyond just paying membership dues. It is being active and participating on an ongoing basis year in and year out.

The Value of ISPI Chapters

Jack J. Phillips, PhD Chairman, ROI Institute

ISPI President (2012-2013)

In the last few years, I have had the opportunity to visit and speak to several ISPI chapters, both in the United States and internationally. I see chapters as a critical part of ISPI. Without them, we lose connectivity. With them, we grow members, encourage networking, and make contacts. I think of ISPI chapters in terms of three Cs.

The first C is for Content. This is perhaps the greatest attraction. In today’s competitive economy, performance improvement is such a critical issue, in any type of organization, business, government, nonprofit, and university. Economic pressures, as well as other forces, demand that organizational functions prove themselves. No other topic is as critical as performance improvement. There is no better group to be affiliated with than the organization with performance improvement in its name. The models, tools, and techniques come to life in the chapter meetings.

The next C is for Contacts. I am always amazed at the quality of people who attend chapter meetings. They are a diverse group, always willing to share what they know. The speakers at chapter meetings are valuable people to know, willing to assist and provide help. The leaders in ISPI are important contacts you should routinely follow up with.

The final C is for Connections. I have found that connections can lead to assistance in many areas. Chapter meetings solidify connections. These connections can often lead to job positions or new projects that we may need. The connections with the speakers, local colleagues, and international groups are remarkable and only available through chapter participation and ISPI membership.

Miki Lane

ISPI President (2010-2011)

Miki LaneBeing an ISPI President means you have to be able to keep a lot of plates spinning and be able to handle multiple priorities that always seem to be on the front burner. You, of course, have to do this while meeting all of the expectations of a very diverse population. How does one develop these skills? For me the start was through being involved at the chapter level. I attended my first ISPI Conference in San Antonio in 1988; and with several other like-minded professionals, we decided to start a Montreal Chapter.

The chapter experience provided me with the leadership knowledge, skills, and attitudes that carried me through many challenging situations that all chapters and, indeed, organizations face. Chapters have been and continue to be the incubator for building leaders at the international level. While I have certainly learned much over the years from my association at the international Society, it is still the friendships and collegial spirit residing in the local chapter that I will continually foster and cherish.

Mary Ellen Kassotakis, CPT, EdD

ISPI President (2014-2015)

KassotakisMEThere are many ways for ISPI members to contribute to the Society, and I believe that ISPI chapter members are a collegial group that support each other in the promotion and practice of human performance improvement. Chapter membership provides the opportunity for personal growth and recognition.

I am a newcomer to chapter membership because there was not a chapter in my home geography for many years. Fortunately, I have been a member of the ISPI Bay Area Chapter (Northern California) since 2013, and I have had the opportunity to connect with many dedicated ISPI members.

Chapter membership provides many benefits:

  1. Chapters provide an excellent way for professionals to understand and learn to apply human performance improvement approaches firsthand.
  2. Involvement with ISPI chapters also offers an opportunity for volunteers to build leadership skills and mentor new professionals in the field.
  3. Chapters support networking opportunities for professional and personal growth.

I believe that as chapter members contribute to the overall chapter success and to the profession, we also receive intrinsic value for participating in chapter events. In turn, this reciprocity energizes us to contribute even more to the field; it’s a cyclical process.

If you are currently a chapter member, congratulations on your commitment to the profession and to your continuous learning. If you currently are not a chapter member, please go to our ISPI website and explore the possibilities!